It is remarkable to me that less than a year ago I was reflecting on the brisk changes occurring in my life. During the previous nine months, I attended my freshman year of college at Brown University, making some great new friends and forming terrific relationships with a couple faculty members in the process. The year definitely required a bit of adjustment, and I found things to be a lot smoother during my second semester, once I became used to the pace and rigor required to be a successful student.
Coming out of my first year, my plans for the summer were few. I had initially planned to take on a field job, but a residual issue with my eyes from treatment made me decide otherwise. Instead, I decided to take one last free summer to relax and reflect, and also to “get my eyes fixed.” I am happy to say that my vision is now very much improved, and I am looking forward to focussing on the first part of my summer plans (i.e. the resting and relaxing).
My free time also leaves me more room in my day to hopefully compose blog posts, something that was utterly lacking during my first year away. Along with blog posts, my birding time also took a major hit, and on only a few instances during the whole year did I venture off of campus to bird. I did, however, enjoy a fulfilling and fun trip to Costa Rica during my lengthy winter break, which netted almost five hundred species in less than three weeks.
Despite the fact that I wasn’t physically birding all that much, I was able to live vicariously through the photos and postings of others. Additionally, I spent time furthering my knowledge of ornithology, and ecology and evolution in general. During the first semester, I took a course that I was so enthused about, I could barely contain my excitement whenever I entered the room, or got a chance to meet with the professor. That course was The Diversity of Life, taught by Professor Jim Kellner, and I am looking forward to being one of the TAs in the course this coming fall.
The focus of the class was the growth and erosion of diversity over time, and how life has evolved to meet changing conditions. Topics ranged from the Cambrian Explosion to the K-T Extinction Event to patterns in diversity (like Wallace’s Line and Adaptive Radiation). It was an absolutely marvelous experience, and shored up an already immense passion for evolution and ecology.
So that’s basically it for me. My intention is to major in Biology, and then go to graduate school to focus solely on birds. It is a fun time to be involved in academia, and I can’t wait to keep learning and growing as a student.