My work focuses on one side of Ireland that few visitors ever see: the temperate rainforest of Killarney National Park, a reserve of 10,200 hectares near the southwest coast.
The climate here – usually moist and, by Irish standards, relatively warm, with temperatures in autumn with temperatures usually exceeding 10 ° C – ideal for growing all kinds of plants such as mosses, ferns and simple mosses called liverworts Creates circumstances.
Here, in a photo taken last November, I’m taking a closer look at a piece of moss growing in a swampy spot next to a Holi tree. I am an independent, independent scientist, and the government often hires me to survey the region’s incredible biodiversity.
One square meter section here can support 30 species of mosses and liverworts, and it is often curious to tell one another. If I’m stumped, I’ll take a sample back to my lab – actually an extra room in my house – under a microscope to examine cell structure and other identifying characteristics.
I grew up near this park, and still wonder, despite all the time I’ve spent here. In the summer of 2019, I found a small tropical fern (Stenogrammitis myosuires) that is native to the mountains of Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.
The most likely explanation for its presence here is that the spore swept into the atmosphere, grew across the Atlantic and landed at a place where the plant could survive. It makes you think of all those spores and seeds, which are very lucky from there.
Here, I am two hours walk from the nearest road. Sometimes red deer move and white-tailed eagles fly away. When it is raining, I wonder what I am doing here. But, amidst the storms, there is no place for me. It is quiet but vibrant, and when you have an eye for Kai, there is always something to get your attention.
When I was 15, I was selected to perform a solo dance at my ballet school’s annual singing performance. I was happy: it was the culmination of years of hard work. I missed the dance that my teacher choreographed, and spent the next few weeks pushing the furniture back in our living room so that I could practice until I was sure that my execution was right.
“I think we cut the opening sequence,” my teacher said when I took the floor. “And maybe we can rearrange the turning section, it’s not working.”
Devastated, I return to my room, adjusting and preparing my limbs to the satisfaction of my teacher. Week in, week out, I practiced feedback from my teacher and peers and by the end, my dance was ready for the public. I realized now, 13 years, that this was my first brush with the process of using feedback and criticism and growing and improving.
An essential part of training to be a researcher is getting accustomed to this cycle of draft-critical-redraft. The ‘one-and-one’ model of exams and assignments in schools and graduate degrees rarely prepares you for such an assessment. It is a sensitive feeling that the work you are proud of is only to get a barrage of comments and corrections from your supervisor or colleagues.
The years I spent dancing in front of classmates and dance-studio mirrors was a valuable preparation. There is no lossless first draft, and even the best work warrants tweaking by aide. Once you can overcome your initial defense, you realize that getting feedback is a valuable, common process and the only way to become a better scientist.
Appreciating constructive criticism was not the only way that dance prepared me to be a research scientist. For example, the many performances I performed gave me the confidence to speak in front of a conference audience.
And with the help of the daily practice required to achieve difficult steps like pyrrote spin and grand jete jump, I think it is necessary to develop the necessary flexibility in research. You should be prepared to deal with this topic once again every day, knowing that the small steps you take will eventually create something special.
Finally, as every PhD student knows, sometimes all you really need is a break. Every Thursday during my undergraduate studies, I left the lab behind. For 90 minutes of my dance class, I never thought of a pipette, ph, or paper, I could just have fun. I think that when working on a research project we all need something in which we have to lose ourselves once.
I finished my PhD research more than a year ago, and started a job as an analytical development scientist at a gene-therapy company in London. I quickly realized that constructive criticism is not important to my progress and development simply because I am in the industry.