I have been neglecting my blog. I have done this in the past, but it’s never been this bad. I wrote my last post in December 2014. What has changed then? Well, it’s simple. I am a mother now.
What I would really like to do here is write about soil food webs, soil microbial communities, plant communities, roots, and how these all interact under changing environmental conditions, like land use change or climate change. I never wanted this blog to be one about ‘issues’, like sexism in academia, the struggles of getting a permanent position, long working hours, women in science, equal pay, …… Not that I don’t care about these issues, but there are enough people out there that are much better at discussing these then I am.
But, I always intended this blog to also be partly about my personal experiences as an early career ecologist working abroad. And I feel like I am combining quite a few experiences at the moment!
As I wrote in my previous post, I was awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship just before I went on maternity leave. The aim of these fellowships is to help promising early career scientists to set up their own research programme and group. The timing was excellent – I could go on maternity leave knowing that I had secured significant research funding, and that I would start an exciting new project on my return.
So, this is what I am doing now. I have employed an excellent postdoc, my technician has just started, I will have a PhD student starting soon, I am buying equipment, and the first experiments have started. I would think that this is probably the most exciting period in a scientists career!
At the same time, pretty much everything else in my life has also changed. I now have a one-year-old cuddling me when I come home, which is the best anti-stress medicine you can think of. I come home earlier than I used to, because I want to see him, give him his bath, and put him to bed. But at the same time, this little man is also causing me stress – sleepless nights, worries about illnesses…. But more than anything, his demand for constant attention means that I never know if and when I can work when I’m at home.
While it’s actually a healthy thing not to always be working when you’re at home, this demanding one-year-old happens to coincide exactly with this exciting period of setting up my new lab, and with an ever-increasing workload. Being on editorial boards, advisory committees, being asked to review grants and papers, teaching, organizing meetings, getting my students and employees started, ordering new kit, going to conferences…… oh, yes, and actually getting some research done and papers written.
It’s quite busy, that’s the point I am trying to make. But watch this space – I haven’t given up this blog yet!