Field Notes: The First of Many Lasts

As I pack up my car on a breezy August day, I take one last breath of the cool, ocean air filled with scents of sagebrush and eucalyptus, realizing that while this wouldn’t be my last trip to the Marin Headlands, this is the last time I will be collecting data for graduate school.  —…

Field Notes: Four Field Perspectives

Field biology is almost always a team endeavor. Field crews often include people with different levels of experience and biological backgrounds—and each member brings something valuable to the team, from budding young scientists to experienced researchers. Going into the Summer of 2022, my second field season researching Spotted Sandpipers (Actitis macularius), I was nervous ….

Field Notes: Monkey Identification

I study a group of free-ranging long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Wat Khao Tamon, a Buddhist temple in the south of Thailand. I primarily focus on their social behavior, and my current project looks at relationships between their social behavior and the likelihood of contracting a tuberculosis infection. Tuberculosis is a deadly airborne respiratory disease…

Field Notes: Mud, Poop, and Bees – A Pilot Study on Swamp Gorillas

Lake Télé is striking on the map. It’s a near-perfect blue circle in a sea of green. Yet it is not this peculiar shape, nor the rich biodiversity of the surrounding forest [1], that it is known for. Instead, it has its very own mysterious monster, Mokele Mbembe. Not to discount the importance of legend…

Field Notes: Cattle Grazing is AMAZING!

I arrive at my beautiful field site in the Sierra Foothills a couple days before it begins. I help the folks that work at the research station move my willing subjects, adult female cows, close to where I will be conducting my assessments. I’m reminded that moving cows (or really any field work involving animals) takes longer…

Field Notes: A Change of Scene

Science takes place in all sorts of circumstances, and for me, those circumstances are usually inside of a lab. They are also often spread across multiple facilities and at very odd hours of the day (or night), and those are entire research stories of their own. Nonetheless, one of my favorite things about research is…

Field Notes: Urban Cat-astrophes

Many of my colleagues have lived alongside nature since birth, but I grew up in Seoul, Korea, where people rarely pass a tree on their way to work, and their exposure to nature generally begins and ends with household pets. Although I came to grad school thinking that my interest in animals and nature might…

Field Notes: Bird Brains and Behavioral Flexibility

Flexibility is the cornerstone of any PhD – whether it be recovering from failed experiments or tumultuous unproductive field seasons. One of the most useful skills to learn as a doctoral student is how to adapt and be flexible within your program or institution such that you can navigate all the inevitable obstacles along your…