Another week in ecology (2023 – Issue 1)

This week just flew by, and it literally felt like I did absolutely nothing.

I was talking to my partner Heike about this yesterday evening. I explained to her that I had had a massively unproductive week, or at least that’s what it felt like to me.

Then she asked me what had kept me so unbusy the whole week.

And so I started listing a bunch of things that I had worked on. Meetings I had had. Manuscripts I had reviewed or corrected. Presentations I had prepared. The online masterclasses I had followed. Some of the bureaucratic mess that I had dealt with.

She looked at me with confused eyes.

“What do you mean, you did nothing…? You did a lot!”

I revisited the list.

Maybe she was right.

I actually have been pretty productive this week, and I am quite happy with some of the milestones I reached this week.

1. I became an Associate Editor at one of my favorite journals. I never expected much when I responded to an open call for editors for the British Ecological Society journals. I applied to Functional Ecology, and since today – I think – I’m officially part of the team. I’m happy to contribute to quality scientific publishing this way. One of the Masterclass things I followed was on how to be a good editor. Although I’ve been an editor for Annals of Applied Biology for two years, I still learned some good things, and got some confirmation that the way I handle publications is quite alright.

2. Fieldwork. Yes, we also prepared our experimental fields this week. It’s a bit of a tradition in the team to maintain our fields together. So this week we mowed and cleaned plots. It looks sweet. I also supervise a very eager master student this summer, and she’ll work in plots directly adjacent to these plants. Today I got a confirmation that the technical staff would install an irrigation system. Sweet. Set up for success!

The tansy still need to grow some, but all plants survived winter, which is always reassuring.

3. Presentations. I was recently asked to present some of my views and ideas on using ecological principles to answer agricultural questions. Maybe this was the reason I felt as if I didn’t do much this week. I spent a lot of time thinking about the best storyline here. I’m pretty confident that it’s a nice story, so I’m quite looking forward to presenting it. In addition, I spent all day today on preparing a 6-minute presentation for the review/defense of our Research Unit, which will take place end of June. It’s bizarre how useless it feels to think about eight or so slides for more than six hours. I think it’s already pretty good. I will present these eight slides before the committee together with my boss, which is also going to be an interesting experience… Also there: I am looking forward to it. Besides these two important new presentations, I’ve been polishing my teaching for summer, which starts mod June. I’ll be talking a lot over the next weeks…

4. Technically not me. Last year we took samples from some of our pet plants for scanning electron microscopy. This is basically a technique that enables you to zoom in to a surface at very high magnification. For this we worked together with colleagues in Austria. This week we received some preliminary images. I was just blown away. Things look next-level amazing when you look up close. This could be a fun little side project, if we want it to be. (I know it peaked my interest).

5. Paper work. Nah. I will spare you the bureaucracy. There was some of that, too, but it will bore the life out of you. The better paper work was about some of our work on plant ecology. One PhD candidate here finished her final draft manuscript, and I think it looks very good. It’s now circulated a final round with co-authors, and hopefully ready to submit very soon. Besides that, we made good progress on the finishing touches for a paper I co-lead with a postdoc colleague of mine. It’s about our vision on agriculture, so it is quite interesting and important to think about (links to the above presentation maybe 🤔?). I think our final brainstorming yesterday really made a huge difference in the right direction. Hopefully more on this one soon.

Five days, five things. That’s enough for this blog. Even if I did some procrastinating this week, I think it was a good haul.

And now I’ll enjoy the long weekend! Cheers.

Published by Robin Heinen

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

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