Leigh Torres, Associate Professor, PI of the GEMM Lab
There are many phases of a scientific journey, which generally follows a linear path (although I recognize that the process is certainly iterative at times to improve and refine). The scientific journey typically starts with an idea or question, bred from curiosity and passion. The journey hopefully ends with new knowledge, a useful application (e.g., tool or management outcome), and more questions in need of answers, providing a sense of success and pride. But along this path, there are many more phases, with many more emotions. As we begin the four-year SAPPHIRE project, I have already experienced a range of emotions, and I am certain more will come my way as I again wander through the many phases and feeling of science:
|Generation of idea or question
|Curiosity, passion, wonder
|Build the team and develop the funding proposal
|Drive, dreaming big, team management, belief in the importance of your proposed work
|Notice of funding proposal success
|Disbelief, excitement, and pride, followed quickly by feeling daunted, and self-doubt about the ability to pull off what you said you would do.
|*Prep for fieldwork/experiment/data collection
|Frantic and overwhelmed by the need to remember all the details that make or break the research; lists, lists, lists; pressure to get organized and stay within your budget. Anticipation, exhaustion.
|Eagerness to share and connect; Pressure to build relationships and trust; make sure the research is meaningful and accessible to local communities
|*Fieldwork/experiment/data collection/data analysis
|Sigh of relief to be underway, accompanied by big pressure to achieve: gotta do what you said you would do.
|Preparation of scientific publications and reports
|Excitement for data synthesis: What will the results say? What are the answers to your burning questions? Were your hypotheses correct? With a good dose of apprehension of peer feedback and critical reviews.
|Publications and reports
|Satisfaction to see outputs and results from hard work being broadly disseminated.
|Project end with final report
|Feeling of great accomplishment, but now need to develop the next project and get the funding… the cycle continues.
*After months of intense preparation for our field research component of the SAPPHIRE project in Aotearoa New Zealand (permits, equipment purchasing, community engagement, gathering supplies, learning how to use new equipment, vessel contracting, overseas shipping, travel arrangements, vessel mobilization, oh the list goes on!), we have just stepped off the vessel after 3 full days collecting data. I have cycled through all these emotions many times, and now I feel both exhausted and elated. We are implementing our plan, and we now have data in-hand. Worry creeps in all the time: we need to do more, do better. But I also know that our team is excellent and with patience, blessings from the weather gods, and our continued hard work, we will succeed, learn, and share. As SAPPHIRE chargers ahead to understand the impacts of climate change on marine prey (krill) and predators (blue whales), I am ready for the continued mix of emotions that comes with science.
Photo montage of our awesome SAPPHIRE team in prep mode and during data collection in the South Taranaki Bight within Aotearoa New Zealand.
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