the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I Had No Idea You Were Such a Big Deal

that's what i told dr. v. in an email this afternoon. his reply? "U DIDN'T KNOW I WAS A BIG DEAL? geesh!" i wrote back saying that i am now suitably awed by his greatness. the whole exchange was pretty funny.

so, it's been quite a while since i last wrote anything on this blog. in my defense, i was in atlanta from wednesday until today at the benthic ecology meeting. i have to say, my talk was a smashing success. i'm not sure if i've mentioned the god of marine chemical defenses, of whom i am very afraid, but i've spent the last week or so obsessing over what he would think of my work. and as it turns out, that son of a bitch didn't even show up to my talk. i was kind of pissed, particularly because dr. v. told him about me and insinuated that the god of marine chemical defenses should come to my talk. but the god of marine chemical defenses is a jerk, which is no surprise. i've heard that from many, many people. which is why i was so damn worried that he would completely rip me apart. he definitely would if he knew that i am planning to do an experiment that questions some of his methods and that i plan on publishing this work. but he doesn't know that. he DOES, however, know that i am terrified of him, thanks to my big shot advisor.

you see, i told dr. v. that i wanted to talk to the god of marine chemical defenses, but i was too scared to do it on my own, so i wanted him to introduce me. after that, i went off to listen to some talks, and when i saw dr. v. later on he informed me that he'd talked to the god of marine chemical defenses and that he'd told this guy that i wanted to talk to him but i was terrified. that's the word he used. terrified. geez.

anyway, i never actually talked to this guy (other than exchanging 'hi's when i passed him in the hall), but kelly did one night while she was drunk. she called him a god. i think he liked it. we both got a chance to tag team another pretty famous marine chemical defense guy, though. he did come to my talk. and he said it was amazing. well, he didn't actually use the word "amazing" but i could tell that's what he really thought ;) actually, he said my talk was really good and that it had crossed his mind to try some of the stuff i am but he hadn't had the time or whatever. he also said that i should contact him if i want to bounce ideas off him or have questions or anything, so that was very cool. i had an intelligent conversation with a guy i've cited more times than i can count, and i was really proud of myself.

i actually knew that dr. p. (the chemical defense guy that i did talk to) had come to my talk because i saw him and a few other famous people there. but instead of freaking me out, seeing all those big names listening to my talk kind of excited me. i was pretty awesome, if i do say so myself.

i saw some really great talks at the conference, and i was really surprised at how young a lot of the big names in marine ecology seem. i went in quite a few absolutely packed rooms to see some of these guys and gals talk about their work. i was also surprised at the number of people who showed up to dr. v.'s and ken's talks. i don't know why, but i never realized how big a deal those guys are until i noticed the sheer numbers of people clamoring to listen to their talks. it was amazing. i guess working so closely with these guys and hanging out (and drinking kind of a lot) with them i never really got the typical big shot jerk vibe, so i never think about the number of publications they have or how many times people have cited them. but now that i recognize how respected these guys are i feel sort of privileged to work with them.

i also met the new master's student who is coming into our lab in the fall. i was the first person to tell him he was accepted, and when i first talked to him he didn't seem so sure he was going to choose DISL for grad school. we hung out for a while, though, and some of my people went to the georgia aquarium (whale sharks, yay!) with him and some of his people from richmond, and then we all went out to dinner. by the end of the night, he was telling me that he hopes he can move down to the island this summer. so i like to tell myself that i had a hand in firming up his decision to join our lab. he's actually a really cool guy, and i had fun hanging out with him... even though we ran into a creepy drunken crazy guy getting on the subway.

see, the georgia aquarium is weird and you have to buy tickets for a certain entrance time, and they tend to sell out early. so nate (my future labmate), nate's friend colin, and i went ahead of everyone else to buy tickets while the rest of the group was listening to some other talks they really wanted to see. we were told that the aquarium was too far from georgia tech (where the conference was) to walk, so we took the subway. well, while we were buying tickets, this old drunk guy came up and started to talking to us. but we could only understand about 25% of what he said. it was creepy. nate kept him busy while colin and i were getting our subway passes, but then he came RIGHT UP BEHIND ME, like uncomfortably close, and squeezed through the subway thing without paying. it was creepy. nate said he was afraid the guy was going to try and follow me onto the train, but thankfully he didn't. when we were safely away from the creepy guy, i told nate and colin that i was really glad that i was with boys and not just alone with my friend molly. anyway, we got there and bought tickets successfully, and it turns out that it takes about 25 minutes just to walk there from GA tech, so the whole uncomfortable subway situation could have been avoided all together. geez.

overall, i think this was a very productive conference for me (even though the banquet i paid $55 for was LAME). some influential people have now seen what i can do, and they seemed suitably impressed. kind of like dr. v. and ken were the first time i gave a talk at this meeting (in 2004). but back then i had no idea that i should be so flattered by their approval. i now realize how fortunate i am to be working with these guys. it seems sort of like a draft to me. like the nhl draft, perhaps. the big name profs are like the teams that are taking the draft picks (students like me who go to conferences young and show off their mad skills). and because dr. v. and ken thought so highly of me in my 'draft year' i wound up in a perfect situation with limitless opportunities. like i'm a top 5 pick or something. yeah, thinking about things that way definitely makes me feel special and appreciate my place in the world of marine ecology.

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