Looking forward

I haven’t really blogged enough yet to have a “brand” but, even still, I can say this post will be a little different. Although it will touch on work, by its very nature it will be a bit more introspective than usual. As there’s less than 12 hours left to go to midnight, I wanted to get down my thoughts on what ended up being a challenging/interesting/unique year. So I don’t get bogged down, I’m also not going to be very good about links to journals and folks I mention. Without further ado, some notable highlights (and lowlights) from 2015:

Associate Editorships – At the beginning of the year, I joined the Editorial Board of Journal of Applied Ecology as an Associate Editor. I love the journal, which is very much aligned with my passion for the conservation of biodiversity. Soon after, I stepped down as an AE for PLOS ONE after only ~ 1.5 years — I was grateful for the opportunity, but found it a somewhat impersonal experience. I prefer Ecology and Evolution and JAE, where I frequently get AE assignments directly from an Editor-in-Chief (that I know by name); at PLOS ONE, I felt like a number many days and even after 1.5 years I would receive requests to handle manuscripts that had nothing to do with my field of expertise. Finally, I suppose I officially end a five-year stint with eLS today. I thank them for the opportunity to not only stay but to increase my involvement with the journal, but I think it was the right decision to step down and let others take the reins.

Lost my father to heart disease in March – Not unexpected, as he’d had a massive heart attack in August 2013, surgery for it about a year later, and never committed to lifestyle changes. We hadn’t been close for a very long time, but it was still difficult to see him go.

Promoted to Professor in July – I knew about this earlier, but it became official as of July 1. I learned a lot about myself (especially with regard to where I want to go with my career in the coming years) during the process, which was mostly — but not entirely — positive. At this time, I also officially became co-Chair of the new Faculty of Science Diversity & Equity Committee, and thus a longstanding passion of mine (i.e., increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in academia) became formalized.

Turned 45 in August – On its own, perhaps not the biggest milestone, but I suppose it gained significance against the backdrop of family losses. Later that month, I chanced upon a lifestyle change (thanks to my great brother-in-law Paul Laursen) with regard to my eating habits, and at the time of writing I’m still over 10 pounds lighter (was never the goal, given that I’d started in the low 160s) and generally feel much better — more settled stomach, way fewer headaches, and don’t just make it from one meal to the next.

Composed/submitted my NSERC DG renewal in the fall – I was technically “up” for renewal two years earlier, but life (in this case, mostly other people’s lives) has a way of altering preconceived plans. In the end, I was happy for the delay, as I needed the extra time to formulate where I wanted to go with my research. The renewal coincided with taking on three great new graduate students, all of whom (together with Emma, who started a year earlier) will be working on applied questions related to the maintenance and loss of biodiversity.

Lost cat in late September – The hazards of being an outdoor cat, but Pippi had been absolutely miserable as an indoor one. Our best guess is that she fell prey to a coyote, so I hope she went quickly. RIP, you’re missed.

Lost my mother in October – Yeah, a little over a half year after my father, and my mother passed away under unhappy/unfortunate circumstances. I was much closer (spatially and emotionally) to my mother than I was to my father, so I took some time off work to deal with the loss (and also the fact that I entered the year as the youngest of my bloodline and ended it as the oldest). I’ll likely be processing this for some time to come.

Well, those are the biggest ones I’m willing to share. No point in asking the universe for a calmer 2016, although I’d be alright with that. Consider me a bit wiser and more experienced, but not necessarily more mature! 😉 Not too big on resolutions, just excited for the opportunities the new year may bring. As for more blogging, well, only time will tell… If I do, I may write a bit about the challenges that face established faculty members, which I feel is somewhat underrepresented on social media. That’s perhaps not surprising, given the demographics of folks who actively tweet and blog (and the many real challenges faced by those in graduate school, trying to get post-docs, first positions, etc.). Still, depression and losing a sense of purpose after obtaining tenure are actual things, just not ones we talk about a lot. With enough interest, I may go there in the new year.


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