Re-evaluating Expectations

Re-evaluating Expectations

Blogger: Abigail Lynch, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and a CSIS member, blogs from Down Under -- she's in Australia to build a framework for her dissertation research. She's interested in developing a decision-support tool to regulate harvest management strategies for lake whitefish in a changing climate.



Re-evaluating Expectations

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today I met with Tessa Rawson who is a graduate student in the advised by both Hugh Possingham and Anthony Richardson, in addition to a third advisor in Israel. She is working on inter-country collaboration in the Mediterranean which parallels (though at a different scale) my study system of the Great Lakes Basin. While lake whitefish management spans upwards of 35 Native American governments, 8 U.S. states, and the province of Ontario, her work covers the whole Mediterranean and multiple taxa (turtles, marine mammals, sea birds, and fishes). And I thought what I was trying to do was complicated!

UQ Great CourtIt was nice to sit out on the UQ Great Court and chat with Tessa because she and I can empathize with each other’s situation.  We are in very similar places with regards to our research (both just starting to design the methods and working with multiple jurisdictions) and also with regards to our time here at UQ (she’s never been here before, recently arrived, is only here for two months, and is also trying to meet with as many folks as possible).

It’s daunting trying to process all this information from all these researchers; they all see linkages to their specialties and encourage me to direct my studies in particular (often diverging) ways. While I came here to hone my research focus, I’m finding the opportunities expanding! It can seem a bit overwhelming at times. This group is also very, very prolific -- I think one project that I need to take on while I’m here is an annotated bibliography of all the literature that they are recommending to me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

duck“What makes us special? We perform science that informs decisions rather than science for the sake of science.” Hugh Possingham gave a “state of the Environmental Decisions Group” talk after morning tea today (a convenient overview for me of the lab group and its structure). It was interesting to hear about his perspectives on the group, how it’s growing, and the importance of collaboration (i.e., how I am here). The talk was a confirmation of why I wanted to visit and the importance of the network of colleagues with which I will come away from the experience. Though at points, I have been frustrated that I am just in the process of meeting people and am not physically accomplishing any analysis, Hugh’s talk was reassuring in that he really emphasized the importance of communications and networking -- after all, these are folks with shared research interests, the same folks that you may be collaborating with on future projects! So, when I do return to MSU and am working on my research, I can easily contact the people I’ve established relationships with here for advice, etc.

A few snippets from Hugh that I took away from the talk:

  • “All of my papers and projects are outcome oriented. They have started with a problem from government managers or NGOs, producing new scientific knowledge with direct application.”
  • “As life is ebbing away at approximately a second per second, you have to ask yourself if you are making a difference. If not, why are you doing what you’re doing?” 

Lynch's studies are supported by a William W. and Evelyn M. Taylor Endowed Fellowship for International Engagement in Coupled Human and Natural Systems, an International Studies and Programs Predissertation Award, an Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Summer Fellowship, a Graduate School Research Enhancement Award, and a travel award from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.



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