Updating Again

I'm not apologizing, but it has been a while. There is a growing crowd on Twitter who I interact with and learn from as a scientist (and in some cases, not as a scientist). And so there are fewer blogs that keep up with the times, and mine is one of them. Not to say Twitter is better. This post would be long over with over there. Probably, it should be soon anyway.

Graduation Day, 2018, Athens, Georgia. What a gorgeous day outside, everybody is dressed to the nines, and I like shaking hands with grandmothers and beaming parents. Just back from the Genetics graduation, bittersweet if ever one was. In addition to watching Wares Lab's own Katie Skoczen graduate and meet her fantastic family, Katie also gave a short remembrance and moment of silence for the equally astonishing Katelyn Chandler, whom we lost about eleven months ago. It is still hard to deal with this; I would have spoken but would have been unintelligible for the sniffing, throat-clearing, and frankly raw emotion still from losing a brilliant – I mean, brilliant – 20-year-old from this world. I thank the stars and rivers every day for both of these two young women joining my lab, and glad to see Katie moving on with a plan for the coming years. I should be able to submit one of her two papers very soon, and Katelyn's was of course out last summer as soon as I could get it published.

I also have to thank Sunishka Thakur, not my student at all but one whom I have felt really fortunate to interact with from time to time and loved meeting her family. I met her first when she rushed over to show me her poster at the CURO conference in Spring '17 and she made a great impression on me. I've since seen her in discussion groups, sitting in on the seminars, reading Log from the Sea of Cortez together for an Honors dinner. She is one of many fantastic people we will miss here at UGA, and I was astonished that she ran up today to give me a handwritten thank-you for all that she felt she'd learned from me even though she was never officially a student or a researcher working with me.

There are days when this job really gets me down, and the past few weeks for reasons I won't go into right now are one of those times. What keeps me coming back is the people who want to learn more and do better, the people who I teach and mentor and try to help reach their goals - they give me credit that means far more than that which I seek from those 'above' me. Suni's note has found a place on my planning board so I can see it every day (or every time I have a blank board to work with, it may be time to erase things that have been there for months). Thank you very much, and best of fortune to all of you. Happy Graduation Day!