I did it! I defended my dissertation!
I am not usually one to abuse exclamation points, but it was a great day and a really nice culmination of four years of hard work. Right now I'm finishing up the final edits on my dissertation and getting ready to graduate (!) in a few weeks. After that, I will transition to a post-doctoral position here at Clemson, focusing on the contaminants samples we collected from the Gulf, as well as recruiting a Master's student to continue some of my pelican research and getting a few new projects off the ground. I'm really excited about getting involved with the Gulf Avian Monitoring Network, which is an ambitious effort to implement standard monitoring of a range of bird species and habitats in the Gulf of Mexico. There are also some other research ideas in the works, as well as papers to finish, and I can guarantee I won't be bored.
In a way, not much will change, but it's the start of a new chapter. In the meantime, if you would like to watch my defense, you can find it here:
I have not forgotten my promise to summarize my dissertation, and will also post the full document (all 235 pages of it, thanks to the required 1.25" margins) once it's available.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved with the project or followed along from a distance. This project wouldn't have been possible without all the great people I've met along the way, and you definitely haven't heard the last of me yet!
Out in the field, our pelicans are settling in for another breeding season. Here in South Carolina, I'm still stuck in my office.
After several months of intense writing, I've finally finished my dissertation. The whole thing is seven chapters: five are manuscripts that I will be submitting to scientific journals, plus an introduction and conclusion to tie everything together. I'll be defending in a week, which involves presenting a research seminar that's open to the university community and the public, followed by a closed-door session with my advisory committee in which they get to ask me tough questions about anything and everything related to my research. After the dust settles I'll post summaries of each chapter to the blog, since they are independently quite cool and represent a ton of work by a ton of people. In the meantime, if you're in the neighborhood of Clemson on April 12th, come by and see it in person!
In other news, I have taken up writing a regular column for JSTOR Daily, an online magazine that showcases scientific papers from the JSTOR online archive. I love writing the column, which gives me a chance to explore the development of different ideas about wildlife, but it takes more work than I had expected to think of an interesting, relevant topic every two weeks! Feel free to e-mail me if there's anything you'd be interested in reading about-- I am not above crowdsourcing inspiration. You can find all of my columns at http://daily.jstor.org/category/re:-wild/.
Also, we'll be contributing to the World Seabird Twitter Conference on Friday, April 13-15th! Check out our twitter account (@project_pelican) or #WSTC2 to see all research being presented by seabirders around the world.
That's all for now. Writing can be exciting, in its own way, but I miss the birds...