Thursday, October 28, 2010

...keeping it simple, at the risk of seeming stupid....

As my research time in the capital draws to a close, I can reflect on what has been a pretty interesting week. PhD research is like the world's longest rollercoaster. Some days you you're on the straight and narrow, the wind's in your hair and there's not a green-faced, puff-cheeked kid in sight. Others....well, it's like it stalled upside down, you didn't tuck your shirt in and theres a storm brewing on the horizon.

This week's been more positive than some, and included a conference in which several presenters indicated that research like mine was needed and fast. That's always a boost because you're never far from feeling pointless as a research student (the dabbling duck with its beak caught under a rock is my favourite analogy). The conference was a trans-tasman one and covered a range of environmental management issues that are just not all that different to the usual.

The same themes filter through everything....the same type of people turn out, spouting the same things...only their faces really change. They talk about systems, and 'paradigms', and predictive models, and what three case studies indicated to them about another fifty thousand....

I'm sure the generation of ecology types before me endured lectures not dissimilar (probably identical!). And despite all these decades of posturing, politicking and chest-beating about exactly how to theoretically save the world....biodiversity continues to diminish, systems continue to fail miserably and the only thing that stops us looking like total idiots is that we dont monitor well enough to show the problems clearly enough. Phew...?

I am glad my research is what it might not be the most technical or have the fanciest name but it suits me because I am simple too (yes, funny, I know). The research process is more about conducting mini archaeological digs in council file rooms than conquering wild forests in some far flung corner of the globe. I spend more time speaking with landowners about the excess turnips they just cant find a use for than quizzing them on the meaning of life under controlled conditions. And I certainly couldnt stand alongside the bright bods presenting today, with more jargon and acronyms than the free world really needs.

Nope...I'm just going outside and seeing what really happened and figuring out what we can learn from it. Not heavy stuff....KISS model...suits me...

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