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!