~a camellia flower, from a tiny plant that my camellia friend gave me two years ago...it's name? I don't know - does it matter?~
I've been ignoring my camellias in these pages this winter - I was thinking to myself 'now why is that?' until I realized that it was because they simply haven't had their usual, spectacular year. It was warm and then that two week period of cold - unusual cold for us - which left many of the buds and blossoms brown and less than their usual selves. They are recovering though - the buds that were tighter (and hence protected) during the cold are beginning to unfold - and these wonderful flowers of winter and are once again gracing us with their presence.
I don't write much about science here, details that is - I dance around it, superficially - although I'm sure it often reads like the elephant in the room in almost every post. When I first started this blog, my intention was to write more about science (hence the name) - but instead it became a retreat from the day-to-day realities of a scientific life. The challenges, however, of my current job situation has changed this a bit - but I'm still not writing about science - but more about the scientific life itself and it's associated frustrations. A number of academic friends are struggling right now - with a looming 3-yr freeze on the federal budget and continual cuts in the higher education budget - I can't help but think that we are tossing scientists - educators of all kinds - out on the street. I don't know what the solution is - but I never thought when I was young that science as a subject would become a luxury, and not be recognized as a priority.
THE LIST below has been a central focus of the past nine months (except for a month, like January, where I also submitted two NSF grants...). A hugely frustrating aspect of having one's position terminated when things are going so well (so not a termination due to lack of productivity) is that 'the work' is going great - and how does one let that go? You can't. I know that I can't. The contents of this list - the hypotheses, the data - is why we do this. It's why it's about something more than just having a job.
I'd like to share THE LIST with you.
- work describing a coral pathogen and the role of motility (led by our collaborators in Israel): Published.
- work describing metabolites produced by a coral pathogen (led by local collaborators): Published.
- work describing genes involved in nutrient cycling in coral microbial communities: Published (and take a look at the journal cover photo).
- work describing the bacterial communities in the upper respiratory tract of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins: Published.
- work describing the phylogeny of a globally-distributed coral pathogen (collaborative with colleagues from Australia): Published.
- work validating the presence of a coral pathogen in the Caribbean and the pathogen's antimicrobial characteristics: Accepted with Minor Revisions (Revised Manuscript Submitted).
- work describing clinically-relevant bacteria and fungi in gastric, upper respiratory tract and fecal samples of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins: In Review.
- work describing the genome of a coral pathogen: In Preparation.
- work describing the proteome of a coral pathogen at two different temperatures: In Preparation.
- work describing a method to detect and quantify a coral pathogen in environmental samples: In Preparation.
- working describing the antimicrobial resistance and susceptibility profiles of coral-associated bacteria: In Preparation.
- work describing the toxicity of a nanoparticle to bacteria: In Preparation.
- manuscripts 8-12 are all close to submission - in addition to these 4 manuscripts, we have ~12 additional manuscripts where the data is collected, some writing has been done, but they are not close to submission (just yet!).
So I've finally found the language to describe my situation: I lost my job, but not my profession. This line has helped me, as I try to explain to those not in academia why I am working as much as ever in the absence of a paycheck. So while I cross my fingers (and toes - and I suggest that you cross yours as well) and go in search of a place for the Microbial Laboratory to land - this list of accomplishments is so important. It validates us - as academic dysfunction swirls over our heads and goes rushing by.
Hopefully, with a little luck and much hard work, this dysfunction will be behind us - something we only see if we choose to turn and look back.