Oh man. The program is coming to a close. The waves of nostalgia are rolling in. already. It’s funny to be nostalgic about things before they’re even over. But some of us are like that. *sigh* Once a Tina, always a Tina.
We’ve mostly been working on our posters this week. I’ve still got lots of odds and ends to tie up: messes to clean up around the lab (sorry Richard), a new batch of larvae to look at (!!! thank you Richard, thank you Cyanoplax dentiens), and yes, the final edits before the posters get sent to the printer.
It is interesting after weeks of work, that as you know (at least from reading my blog) are sometimes wrought with frustration and ambiguity, to then take it and wrap it up in a tidy little bow and say: this is what we know!! I was surprised at how much I was able to report, even after I cut out 2/3 of what I wanted to write on there. You can learn a lot by just looking at something, even if you don’t know what it means.
I think making a good poster, and communicating science effectively in general, is about good storytelling. Stories are so important, they're how we get others to care about and understand our work, how we make it relatable and place it into some greater context. Maybe sometimes the story is something we have to make up to get people to… fund us, for example… but there is always a story and finding the right way to tell it is important.
And yes, sometimes the right way to tell it involves cutting out 2/3 or more of what you wanted to say. Everyone has worked really hard, and wants to report on all of it, but sometimes saying everything little thing you’ve done, and launching into every caveat, detracts from the value of your work, and makes it less clear.
It’s really neat how much we can improve our work by being receptive to others’ suggestions. On Wednesday during our professional development session we critiqued each others posters. I took it a little hard, and it took a lot of self control not to burst into tears when it was my turn. But then I got to work, and made all the changes people suggested to me, and my poster looks a lot better now. I think it’s really valuable to be open minded about others’ input, and to trust that people challenge you to make you better. If people aren’t pushing you, or asking the hard questions, that may reflect a lack of investment in your work and also your growth as a person. When we don’t challenge each other, we do a great disservice to each other. It’s hard to remember that when you’re in a room of 13 people, and they’re all telling you things you should do that you didn’t do, all at once, when you just want someone to pat you on the head and tell you you did a good job. But help is really at the heart of it. At the same time, it can also be important to stand your ground. That is probably the ultimate skill: Enthusiastically embracing others’ suggestions while sticking to your guns when it counts.
So there was some hard work, and some stress, but there was also a trip to waterfalls, lots of dancing, a meteor shower, and arm wrestles. So everything rounds itself out.
Hi readers! My name is Christina Ellison and I am a Marine Biology major in my senior year at the University of Oregon. I was born in southern California, raised in Utah, and have lived, worked, and studied in Salt Lake City, Ojai, New York City and Eugene. I am also a painter, and sometimes a writer and a dancer. Whatever else I may be, I try to be a liver first. I strive to foster a sense of connectedness to the world around me, and to open myself to the wonder that is life, and death, and change, and beauty in all its many forms. I am fascinated by marine life and processes, and by living things in general. I can become interested in most things if given enough background, and as I develop my own understanding and find a way to put myself to work. My work as a student has inspired a deep appreciation for both the diversity and unity of living things, and for the scientific process. I am not only a student to the facts, but to the process by which we come to regard them as such. I think the scientific process is the pure spirit of curiosity with the moral responsibility and the discipline not to get attached to any theory or outcome, or in any case, not to let our hopes, or our biases, interfere with the conclusions we draw from honest work. Ultimately, it is the process that facilitates our understanding of, and thus our relationship to, the world around us. My interests in marine biology remain very broad. I am interested in ecology and organismal biology. I like learning about how bodies work, how they interface with their environments, and how interactions between individuals scale up to inform community structure. I have also recently become interested in the life history of marine organisms.