Spring Updates

Continuously in science, you find yourself with more ideas than you can possibly put into action, and more tasks on your daily to-do list than you can possibly complete in one day. Spring has been, predictably, busier than anticipated – so much so that I haven’t posted in over a month! Here are some of the highlights, and I hope to be posting more over the summer as papers get published and courses get taught.

Over the past few months I’ve been focusing on wrapping old projects; those large and small things that carry over even after a scientific position has run out of funds to pay you. Scientific research, and especially the interpretation and writing of results, takes a long time and often outlives short-term student, post-doc, or non-tenured faculty postings. Eventually everyone who collaborated on a project has moved on and it is increasingly more difficult to finalize and publish that work. And, most of the undergraduate students I’ve been working with at BioBE are graduating in June and need to finish their projects so they can cleanly begin the next phase of their life.

For the most part, wrapping these projects has involved writing up manuscripts, getting the authors to agree on a final draft (which can take weeks or years), and submitting it to a scientific journal for review. I currently have seven manuscripts in review; 4 scientific articles and 3 scientific reviews, some of which have been in review for months. And I still have at least four more papers that need to get finished and written up. I’m also a guest editor on a special call for papers through PloS One on the Microbiome Across Biological Systems, which to date has required communication and brainstorming from me but which will soon include quite a bit of editing and oversight.

February was generally absorbed by grant proposal writing, and it looks like May is shaping up similarly. Grant proposal writing is an arduous process requiring a lot of planning and coordination between contributing parties. The majority of proposals don’t get funded on their first round, which means you may sink a lot of time into developing something with a very delayed payoff. I am in the process of developing several highly-collaborative proposals which have been maturing into increasingly-finer wine.

Equity is not a term that’s typically associated with microbes, yet. The work this spring that I’ve been (happily) most absorbed in has been development of the summer course I’m teaching for the UO Clarks Honors College, Microbes and Social Equity. It’s only four weeks long, but will be four days a week, and I’m hoping to cover a number of different topics and coordinate several guest speakers, so there are a lot of lectures to make and emails to send.

Engagement on social media from me has been slim the past few months, but other science communications have been thriving. I gave a print interview with the UO College of Design and a radio interview with Jefferson Exchange. Most recently, I presented at the Institute for Health in the Built Environment 2019 Build Health event, where I connected with a dozen or so of my ongoing and future collaborators.

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