This past November, I made a most fantastic voyage across the sea, all the way to the storied French Alps. There, I spent a week with the incredibly intelligent and warm folks at Irstea Grenoble Center; conversations ranged from the pros and cons of joint species distribution models, to the challenges of simulation evaluation, to the perks of a life so close to those dear mountains (skiing being top of the list). I received heaps of useful feedback on my budding project on herbivores in the Kruger National Park, and had the chance to get to know the city and the research group better than I thought I would.
That week, I truly recognized a facet of my life as a scientist. Science is more than just exploring and investigating the world around us; it is the relationships and conversations we have with others that can spark new insights and lead to fresh research directions. I have made it a new mission of mine to reach out to fellow scientists for coffee conversations more often; to attend symposia and lectures outside my usual realm; and to make connections beyond my (self-described) introvert comfort zone. In doing so, I hope to sow the seeds for further inspiration and breakthrough, both in myself and others. Not every conversation will lead to my next dissertation chapter, it's true; but each will leave me seeing the world from a slightly different angle, and that is what science is all about.
In sum, I'm not-so-quietly counting down the days to my next trip to France; hopefully, soon!