What a difference a month can make!

At the beginning of July, fresh out of finishing the fieldwork portion of my summer research, I had eight days worth of backlogged data from both myself and my professor Dan Cristol (who was my other field work half this summer), 11,000 lines of digital data to proof, and a poster draft due by the end of the month. Now being the end of July, with a family vacation on the immediate horizon and the largest ornithological conference in the history of North American Ornithology in two weeks, I am in a wildly different place. After finding the most nimble keyboard available on campus (hint, the new ones in Swem) I was able to swiftly dispatch the rest of the data entry within a few days. By July 9 my data was completely entered and proofed and my working knowledge of the lyrics in the most recent “Lumineers” album nearing perfection after hours stuffed up behind a computer. With that taken care of my next task was to begin the analysis. To do so required delving into the world of statistics programs. In my case I used Distance Sampling and R; two programs with rather steep learning curves. A few sit down sessions with Professor Matthias Leu later I was more or less on track to have some analyses completed for the North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC), which is now in just about two weeks!

The NAOC is like the Olympics of bird study conferences. Across North America there are more than six societies that study ornithology and every year they each hold their own conferences attended by anywhere between 50 and 300 people. The NAOC, like the Olympics, convenes every four years and takes the place of all other professional society’s meetings. The attendee list this time around is rumored to run some 2000 names long! Along with seven other lab members and Profs. Dan Cristol and Matthias Leu we will head up to Washington D.C. for five days of conference activities. As for me, I will be presenting a poster, however some of the other members of the W&M contingent will be giving 15 minute long symposia on their respective research topics. Anyway, for now I am hard at work pulling together as many analyses as I can, redoing them when something goes wrong with the data or set up (as happens far too often), in order to have a poster ready. In addition to this I am doing my best to read up on potential grad school opportunities and other related research projects I may run into at the conference.


Stay tuned for a conclusion of my summer research and a recap of the conference!