On being MIA...

Hello my fellow readers You may have noticed that I have been away for some time.  Some of you have even gotten in contact with me to find out why, and encourage me back - thank you!  Your words of kindness and encouragement were very much appreciated.  I honestly did not mean to disappear for so long, but I did get incredibly busy.  I thought I'd share with you all some of the questions I've been asked during my time away - and my responses!

Busy huh… so what have you been doing?

Lots!  Two things really took most of my time though.  First, I started (and finished) an Advanced Graduate Diploma (which means I did 3/4 of a master's) specialising in Fisheries Resource Management.  I've still being doing science communication, but primarily paid work.  As I am sure you can appreciate, with bills needing to be paid, and deadlines to be met, my voluntary science communication (what I do here) got pushed further and further and further…

Fisheries resource management - don't you know about that stuff already?

Yes!  And no.  This particular course (offered by Marine Institute in Newfoundland, Canada - it can be taken remotely if anyone is interested) takes an industry and fishery manager focus on fisheries.  My academic background is very much ecology and biology based, with a heavy dose of conservation.  With fisheries being a major stakeholder in the marine environment, the need for ensuring sustainable fishing for food security, socio-economic reasons, and of course environmental reasons, and many conservation measures impacting fisheries, I felt gaining greater understanding of this industry from their perspective would be very useful.   My course-mates included fishers and aquaculturists, and the lectures run by professors, managers, consultants, and industry analysts.  I learned a lot.

So what's next?

Well I'd like to say I will be less busy but I won't be.  The why is good news though - I'll be starting a PhD in September - yippie!

Oh that's cool - what are you doing?

I'm sure this isn't a surprise - I'm going to be focusing on marine ecology and conservation.  I'll go into more details in another post, but briefly I'll be focusing on marine protected area network design from the perspective of movement of marine animals, particularly larval (baby) dispersal.  Movement and dispersal is super-important as it connects marine populations, allowing restoration of depleted local populations by immigrants that renew genetic diversity.  The aim is to ensure resiliency in a marine protected area network, and improve the survival chances of populations - both now and under future climate change scenarios.  What's really cool about this work is that it's not just of relevance to protected areas, but all forms of spatial management - like fishery management zones.

Are you still going to be doing science communication?

Yes!  Science communication is so important.  What's the point of science if nobody hears about it?  Plus I love all the wonderful conversations I have with you, and I have learned a lot myself from you all.  Alongside my paid communications (and of course the PhD), I hope to start posting more regularly here too.  To allow me to do this, a few things will probably change.

First, I probably won't go back to weekly posts - at least not permanently.  Each post takes a fair bit of time to do - from reading papers, to writing the post, to finding a great image that is available for use - and then of course answering questions, or continuing discussions (both in public and 'behind the scenes).  I need to make sure I'm actually DOING science, and not just writing about it (I think my future supervisors have just breathed a heavy sigh of relief!).

Second, you will probably see some posts focusing on the specifics of the PhD - papers I have read, the concepts involved in the research, and other science-related topics, all packaged in my usual style of writing.  There may also be some posts about non-science aspects of the PhD - from the PhD process itself (what do those PhD folk do with their time anyways?), and interesting things like conferences, workshops, etc. that are also part of a PhD (and research in general).  For those looking for more general PhD/graduate school/productivity/research posts, there will likely be some posts looking at issues I've encountered/become aware of, solutions, tips, and even some asking for advice (and you won't necessarily have to have a PhD to help out!).

Third (and finally) I'm going to do an experiment…. In Instagram and Snapchat.  For those who aren't aware of these, they are image-based social-media platforms.  Instagram can be used on the web as well as a mobile device, Snapchat only on a mobile.  I'm hoping to use these to give a more general insight into 'everyday life in marine science/PhD/Graduate school' - and some cool marine-related shots from where ever I happen to be.  I haven't used either platform before, so let's see how it goes.  These will start from Monday 5 September.


Image: Busy Desk.  Credit: Bilboq/Wikipedia.  Licence: Public Domain Image