It’s time to pay my dues

Me, catching bugs in Kugluktuk, Nunavut. I'm thinking the whole thing is pretty awesome.

This is my sixth term as an Entomology (that’s the -ology of insects) PhD student at McGill, and I’ve been awfully busy. I’ve given my first departmental seminar, submitted my thesis proposal, survived my comprehensive exam, taught three terms’ worth of labs, and finished writing a book chapter. (I’m tired just looking at that list!)

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I also managed to squeeze in two field seasons in the Canadian Arctic.

I’m the first to admit that doing field work in the far north is pretty sexy stuff. I get to travel to gorgeous remote regions that most people will never get a chance to see. I spend my days driving an ATV over wide-open tundra, setting traps and collecting specimens and keeping an eye out for grizzly bears. I see cool things like muskoxen, the spring thaw on Coronation Bay, and the midnight sun. I get to meet beautiful, friendly people; sometimes I get to go bug-hunting with local kids.

Even when it’s cold and rainy, my ATV gets stuck in the mud and I discover that a reckless caribou has run through my trapline, it’s still full of awesome.

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A simple thought on scientific research in grad school.

Working on a project for years can be arduous, exhausting and unsurprisingly lead to many dead ends. Finding motivation in these tough times is an obstacle faced by most grad students. Recently, while mulling over a short conversation I had with a colleague, I realized one of the principle sources of motivation for grad student researchers. (more…)

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