Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ten Lessons I have learned from doing field work

In case you haven't noticed, I have been AWOL from this blog for almost the entire summer now. Why? Because I have been doing field work for my PhD which involves sampling daphnia from lakes in the Muskoka region of Ontario (Canada). I still have a few weeks to go, more than thirty lakes to sample and a large number of experiments to run but I'm taking stock of my experience so far. Here are the ten most important lessons I have learned so far: 
1) There is no such thing as free time. 

2) There is no difference between weekdays and weekends.

3) Expect the unexpected...apparently Murphy's law came into existence when some dude named Murphy tried to set up an experimental mesocosm in a lake.

4) Crying doesn't solve your problems....but it does make you feel better...just don't do it when the undergrads are watching.

5) Become one with the swarm. You can't hide from mosquitoes, blackflies, deerflies or horseflies

6) Bruises are very sexy....especially when they match.

7) Rope is NOT just rope. Good rope makes field sampling enjoyable. Bad rope...the name says it all.
8) If/when PhD supervisor suggest adding more components to your field experiment, citing it will make your publication better...just say no...a potential "insert prestigious scientific journal of your choice here" publication doesn't feel as good a 8 hours of sleep. 
9) A good field assistant can make a difference between a manageable field season and an absolute disaster. A great field assistant can make field work seem enjoyable...most of the time. Thanks for all your help so far, Phil!
10) Enjoy the definitely makes up for all the hard work and the setbacks.