Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Catching Up - 2

Wednesday March 10th

My second day of my school visit I met with various faculty and talked to other students in the department. Probably the best part of that particular day was attending the lab meeting; I got to see how Felisa and Jim interact with each other and the other students.
Just a quick explanation: Felisa Smith is a paleoecologist and my future adviser. Jim Brown is the famous biologist who is largely responsible for the metabolic theory of ecology (basically tying most ecological phenomena in some way to body size and metabolism). The who of them hold their lab group meetings together, so I'll get to interact with some pretty smart people.
During the lab meeting one of Jim's students gave a presentation on allometry in cell size and volume as it scales with metabolism. I know for most people that won't mean much, but it was interesting to me :-P

I've come to the conclusion that I am joining a bright group of scientists who, interestingly, are in another scientific camp about the causes of the end Pleistocene extinction. They are of the camp that humans caused the extinction. I'm of the camp that climate changed and destroyed habitats and thus lead to extinction. This is going to be fun, and it's nice to be challenged. I'm actually more of the opinion that it doesn't matter what caused the extinction; we do know that all sorts of weird things were going on ecologically at the time, and that on some level humans and climate were involved.

(For those of you who are lost, I'm a paleontologist. I'll provide further elaboration on what that means either in another post, or in a revamping of my "about me" stuff.)

Up until this point I had been staying with another student, "Fred". Fred is actually a girl, and her name is actually Shawn. Which doesn't clear anything up. Fred was a very good host, I knew things would be good when I showed up Tuesday night and she and her friend were watching Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. I also had been enjoying the company of her two funny cats. I don't have the pictures off of my camera yet, but an update with pictures will come in the future. All I can say now is that one has a very unfortunate haircut! Think puffy cat in a leotard, and you've pretty much got the mental image.

Fred and her friend had to leave early the next morning, so Matt picked me up and we stayed at a Motel 6 by the highway. In grad school, you have to make these kinds of tough financial choices.

Thursday March 11th

The last day of my school visit. I had lunch with Felisa and Matt at a place that has the best Greek food I've had in a LONG time. Spinning meat on a spit, with cucumber sauce, and tomato, on a pita. Perfection. I have no idea what the name of the place is, but it's about a 5 minute walk from work, so I'll be going there pretty much as often as possible. They have a dolmas salad, which I think I'll try next time (that's stuffed grapes leaves for those of you who are missing out).

After lunch, Matt and I drove off into the sunset to go birding, with the hopes of seeing a road runner. I saw one, it practically ran out in front of our moving vehicle. Then we landed at the Mauger Estate Bed and Breakfast Inn in downtown for a non-Motel 6 experience. That place is mentioned in a previous post, and I highly recommend it!

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