I Dream of Weevils Part 2!

IMG_4979Randa here! I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts from my group this summer. It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally back to add my 2 cents. A few weeks ago, Jemma shared her weevil dreams with you all. I asked her to title it “Part 1” because I knew I had more to add on this topic. I’ve dreamt of my work for as long as I can remember. The different stages of my academic career are defined by whether Collembola were floating by when I closed my eyelids or whether it was squirming Colorado Potato Beetle. So, it came as no surprise when my interns shyly mentioned that they’d been dreaming of alfalfa weevil.

To be clear, these are not love affairs. These are “repetitive work / weevils in my subconscious” dreams. Alanna, who spent a couple nights sleeping in a cabin right next to 15 rearing assays (paper bags filled with weevil larvae chomping on alfalfa foliage), dreamt that the WEEVILS HAD ESCAPED. Scary stuff. We do a lot of counting in my lab group. Host density can be an important driver of host-parasitoid interactions, thus we need to have an estimate of weevil density in the field. This means many many man hours of weevil counting (side note: has anyone published papers yet where you just look at the bag and say low, medium, and high? If yes, point me in that direction, please!)  Jemma and Alanna may spend a solid 8 hours sorting sweep net samples and counting weevils (and other insects).

But me? I am a second year assistant professor. I dream of budget spreadsheets, sometimes waking up in a panic because I think a charge has been applied to the wrong account or I miscalculated and can’t afford to pay my employees. I dream of personnel conflict, and I am grateful to report that I have an amazing crew this summer and the conflict has stayed in my dreams and out of reality. This is scary stuff, too! “Assistant prof me” would trade “grad school me” those budget/personnel dreams for some good old-fashioned insect dreams in a heartbeat. But it’s all ok. I’m not a psychologist or a neuroscientist or anyone who is qualified to interpret dreams, but I think that if you’re dreaming about it, you care about it. I’m thrilled that my students accomplish diligent weevil counting and that I balance my accounts and hire people who get along. It’s all just fine, and at least it’s not like those nights where I lie awake thinking about budget spreadsheets…

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