Cucumber time

In Dutch, we often call the summer month during which not very much is happening ‘cucumber time’. This is a time during which small news items get blown out of proportion, like cucumber harvests failing, ducklings crossing the road, or princes being born.

For many people in academia however, this relatively student-free period is the time to get on with writing those papers. It is also conference time, because of the same reason – no teaching. In addition, for ecologists, it means the peak of the field season.  So, no time for cucumbers after all.

I will be attending two major conferences in one month – first the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America (you can read about what I’m up to during this conference here) and then INTECOL (organised by the British Ecological Society). I’ve got quite a full programme for both meetings, and especially for INTECOL, where I will be talking in the symposium Soil biodiversity and ecosystem function: recent advances and new challenges, chairing the session Aboveground-belowground interactions, giving a talk in a grants workshop, and organising a reception for the special interest group Plants, Soils, Ecosystems. You can find more information about this, and everything else that is happening, using the INTECOL App.

In between all this, we are still setting up a lab, and I am trying to get cracking with some papers – I’ve recently managed to squeeze a nice one out, about which hopefully soon more!

In September, I will be organizing the big final sampling of my field-based drought experiment. I am very excited about this, but I won’t be able to help as much as I would like to, because I am going under the knife to fix a bone in my right hand. Yup, from the 19th of September, I won’t be able to do any field or lab work, or to cycle or drive, make my own coffee (my coffee maker is quite labour-intensive), shower carelessly, and type like I normally do. In stead, I’ll have my right hand, with my thumb fixed, in a cast for six weeks. I can only hope that after that time, everything will be OK again.

The things I will be doing with a cast this year (last time I had a purple one – this time I might choose classy black) include supervising this final sampling, writing a grant proposal (which includes doing some pilot experiments), organising the first BES Plants, Soils, Ecosystems meeting, and travelling to Aberdeen to give a seminar – the lab work that I planned in Aberdeen had to be cancelled (I won’t be able to pipette!). Ah yes, and of course, see my new tutorial group at the University of Manchester.

But, first I’m off for my conference season, fortunately without a cast – last year’s ESA was with my purple one!

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