Intensity (only good stuff)

What an intense four days I’ve had. I’ve done so many things in the past couple of days, that I could (and perhaps should) sit back and take a holiday. I have worked only four days since my last. It’s about time for another. Too bad I planned a couple of student meetings tomorrow – hehe. But I think I will really enjoy the coming weekend. The week has been seriously action-packed, but also tremendously satisfying. That always makes for a great way to start the weekend :).

This week was the first week of the summer semester. A lot of setting up for the new courses. I just put the final touches to some of this week’s material for my landscape planning & ecology course. I think we really created a nice program for this semester. Super happy with it, and I’m looking forward to meet the students in the first live Q&A session, albeit online. For tomorrow, I will have two kick-off meetings for student projects. In both of these projects, students will work with me on the effects of artificial light at night on plants and potentially (I should say hopefully, it depends a bit on their preferences) on insects. This is also quite exciting.

I’ve been doing a bit of work on Artificial Light At Night in the past year – this picture shows one of my past setups (when the results are more fleshed out, I will write some here eventually). This was pretty challenging, but fun to develop, so I am super excited to have a few students that will be doing some projects with me on this line of work in the next couple of weeks.

Interestingly, I have attracted only Chinese students in one particular course. This brings back good memories of my first two years as a PhD student in The Netherlands, where I spent most of my experimental and social/lunch time with a dozen or so Chinese colleagues. Good times. I feel a special fondness for China, and my trip there is among my most memorable. Anyway, I digress. I’ll have Chinese students to supervise, and I’m quite looking forward to that cultural and intellectual exchange :).

Some TLC for these lovely Tansy plants – these fuckers give me a mad headache though!

Another epic feat of this week is the accidentally perfectly timed arrival of our latest PhD candidate, and the final step of my six-month preparation period for her field experiment. Both of these events occurred today. This was not planned ahead of time. Over the past months I turned offspring (from seeds) of twelve plants of six different chemotypes into 120 massive plants. I had them chemotyped in collaboration with friends in Bielefeld. From the 120 plants, I selected six different chemotypes with three daughters each. These 18 daughters I chopped to pieces and turned into many ‘identical’ cuttings. Call it green thumbs, or just sheer luck, but my cuttings were very successful and rooted and shooted like mad. Today I finished the transplanting of ~40 clones for each of the 18 daughters. We need about 30 for our field experiment, so I may have to come up with something nice for the leftovers. Nothing is wasted! So after her quarantine phase, the new PhD candidate will join me at the helm for this experiment, and I’m just so happy that she’s finally arriving. It took us since August/September or so to get to this stage. Covid-19 is a bitch in many ways. But we made it work.

Six months of work – it doesn’t look like much, but I poured my soul into this bunch of pots! Now let’s hope that the aphids ant their enemies appreciate them as much as I do.

And now it is probably time to go to sleep! Ciao.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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