i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgOne of the nicest things about being a PhD level scientist is that I don’t have to go in the field all the time anymore. (Trust me, I paid my dues during graduate school.) Mostly, I sit in front of a computer and write proposals (and eventually papers). But sometimes I do get to go out into the field, the place that inspired me to do science in the first place. Last month I had just such an opportunity. I needed to be the second person on a field crew for a graduate student’s project. Over the course of one very long, very hot week, we got treated to wonderful beauty (both grand and intimate) but also got reminded just why we strive not to be field technicians forever. Below the fold I’ve offered up a taste of both worlds.

American water lily (Nymphaea odorata Aiton)
American white waterlily

A beaver-chewed tree
Beaver chewed tree

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria L.)- an invasive exotic that crowds out native wetland species, reducing biodiversity, and is home to hordes of biting mosquitoes. And to think, this was an intentional introduction to North America – people wanted it in their gardens.
Purple Loosestrife - invasive exotic

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans ) This was everywhere dry – sometimes growing as dainty little ground cover (as pictured), sometimes as thick vines, and sometimes as (expletive) shrubs 12 feet high. I react very strongly to poison ivy – so despite the heat, I spent my days covered in long clothes.
Poison ivy


  1. #1 JaneB
    August 13, 2008

    I react strongly to insect bites so can really relate to the days in long-sleeved, covering clothing even when the rest of the party are in shorts and vests… the joys of fieldwork!

  2. #2 saxifraga
    August 15, 2008

    Yes, field trips tend to have some of both. In my little corner of geology there isn’t really such a thing as not going in the field anymore. Somehow staying at home in the office writing grant proposals almost sounds appealing now after two moths of more or less continuous field activities and one more month to go.

  3. #3 Field Notes
    August 19, 2008

    You’ve just reminded me why I eventually opted out of nonhuman primate field studies ~ the nasties encountered are far, far worse. But, I still think about it sometimes. I can say though, that Arashiyama in Japan is a pretty nice place to do observational grooming studies for a short time.

New comments have been disabled.