Sunday, February 3, 2008

This semester's happenings

My most exciting class this semester is Ornithology with David Winkler (recently named a Weiss Presidential Fellow - way to go Wink!!!). I took this class two years ago - this time around I am a Teaching Assistant. I had an amazing time last semester TAing Field Biology, and this semester promises to be great as well.

Ornithology lab meets twice a week at the Lab of Ornithology (makes sense, doesn't it?). Tuesdays are Birds of the World labs. Over the course of the semester the students learn to recognize by museum skin every bird family in the world (~200 total). Thursday labs explore a variety of topics including anatomy, molt, plumage, capture techniques, and studying 150 local, common species. One big bonus of helping run these labs is our extensive use of the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates (CUMV) bird collections! I can't blog the majority of the course material, but some subjects I will do my best to post about.

In addition to Ornithology, I am taking two more interesting courses, Macroevolution (with Amy McCune) and What is Science?, both topics that may deserve postings in the future.

My research continues. This semester will be very busy as the first rough draft of my thesis is due in just under two months. Even before I wrap up that project, the field season for my second major research project (this season will be my third attempt to get data) will be underway, keeping me very busy. I have never posted on this second project, I will do so sometime this semester.

This all amounts to an incredibly busy semester. Unlike every previous busy semester I've had, this one is so busy because it is filled with academic work that is engaging, stimulating, and highly relevant, as well as a large amount of time dedicated to research. I couldn't be happier with my last semester at Cornell.

This does mean that time devoted to blog work has largely decreased (Exhibit A: my Costa Rica trip is still nowhere near ready to be written up) but hopefully I can balance that by increasing the 'quality' of the posts. The next post coming up, a lab from Ornithology class, should be a good example of that (I hope).

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