It’s spring break here at UC Merced, which gives me a chance to cross off a whole host of to-do items that have been lingering on my list all semester (including these website updates). Life has been busy, productive, and happy here in Merced. I’m teaching an awesome class this semester- Ecosystems of California- which gives me the chance to learn about all the different cool places and ecosystems in California. We took a field trip to the Merced and San Luis National Wildlife Refuges in February, where we saw lots of cool birds resting here in the heart of the Pacific Flyway, as well as our resident herd of Tule elk. In April, we go to the Vernal Pools-Grassland Nature Reserve (though with the drought the pools will probably be bone dry) and then to Yosemite. Have I mentioned already how much I love my job?
I’m also leading the ES/ESS seminar series this semester. We’ve had some great talks already (including one by my friend from Wisconsin, the awesome Erika Marin-Spiotta) and there are many more great talks to come. In a few weeks, my ETE collaborator Cindy Looy gives a talk, and then Kaitlin Maguire will talk about parts of her dissertation and postdoc research.
We’re also in the midst of looking forward as a group- both recruiting students for the fall and recruiting at least two new faculty members to the Life and Environmental Sciences group- so this has meant lots of talks and meetings. Spring break has been a nice respite from the busy-ness of the semester. I’ll submit revisions for a paper tomorrow, and I’m working on another paper that’s due at the end of the month. Kaitlin and I were also just in Baltimore, for a fun and productive meeting with the rest of the team on the community paleomodels project.
One other thing we did as a lab was participate in Mammal March Madness. This is the 2nd year of MMM and the first year I’ve participated. The lab came up with our bracket and predicted that Musk Oxen would win it all. Unfortunately, we were out of the running in the final four, and the canny hyenas took it all. Perhaps next year will be better.
All in all, the first half of the semester has been full of awesomeness.
Looking forward to the summer, I’ll be spending lots of time in the Sierras. We have an REU program in Yosemite, which gives me a chance to tromp around the woods with students and look for owl pellets. Eric and I will also be scouting for new fossil deposits in the Sierras, and I’m hoping to do some non-work camping and backpacking. I’ve also got a tour of the San Francisco Bay-Delta region planned, a Gordon Research Conference in Maine on Unifying Ecology Across Scales and ESA in Sacramento, and a few other trips to visit friends and family.
But before all that can happen, I need to make it to May! My fingers are crossed for a smooth second half of the semester!