First sampling day in Ecuador: San Pablo lake

Hola!

Today we have sampled San Pablo lake, located in the Inter-Andean Valley of Ecuador, at 2660 m of altitude, and near Otavalo. Together with Kewrin and Emilia, two super motivated Ecuadorean undergrads of Yachay Yech University, we recovered a 40-cm sediment core of the lake, with associated physicochemical data and water samples for further analysis. Ah! We had a big help of a motor-operated boat (not driven by us, of course ;)), which made the sampling easier for us definitely! Not surprisingly for me, I get burned by the sun, but it has been worth for starting this promising and inspiring fieldwork sampling campaign with a so nice sunny day!

We are staying at Casa Grande, an old reformatted Hacienda in Imbaya, from 10 minutes drive from Yachay. Simply, it is a lovely house! It is surrounded by grasses and fruit trees (even with a pool!), and having all the facilities one might desire! Some photos below:

San Pablo lake; behind, the Imbabura volcano.

San Pablo lake shore

Casa Grande (Imbaya)

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Ecuador: here I go!

Hola!

Today I will be traveling to Ecuador for sampling Andean lakes. The last days and weeks have been dedicated to prepare all the scientific equipment (2 full suitcases ;)), aiming to participate in a lake limnology project with researchers and students from the University of Yachay Tech (Imbabura Province, 2 hours drive north from Quito) and University of Northern Kentucky (US).

Our target is to characterize with different approaches (limnology, geology) 10 Andean Ecuadorian lakes covering gradients of elevation (Páramo-below Páramo vegetation), tropic status and thermal stratification. We will be sampling modern in-lake habitats (water, sediment surface), sediment cores and water physico-chemistry to see how these climate-sensitive systems have changed through time. I can´t wait to start the promising and inspiring field work! More updates very soon.

Xavier

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Dinosaurs and Disasters

Hi!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in the famous Nebraska`s Dinosaurs & Disasters event, organized jointly by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science and the State Museum. This activity is led by scientists, graduate and undergraduate students, who explain to kids and their parents the natural history and science topicsby means of hand-on activities.

Together with my lab mate, Sabrina Brown, we set up the diatom station “Diatoms through the looking glass” to learn about how scientists use diatoms and other fossils to understand past climate. Kids sieved lake sediment that contained fossil diatoms (represented by little colored plastic pieces) to see whether the lake was under a dry or wet climate as reconstructed by benthic/planktonic diatom ratio. That is, if kids counted more blue (=benthic) diatoms, the lake was supposed to be a shallow water lake (dry climate), whereas if kids counted more pink (=planktonic) diatoms, the lake was supposed to be a deep water lake (wet climate).

There was also a giant diatom puzzle in which kids played with different species by fitting them in the correct place and environment they belongs to! So funny Saturday with more than 2000 attendants!

 

The diatom giant puzzle (courtesy of Mike Harrison)

At the diatom station with Sabrina Brown

 

 

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Speaking as USA immigrant

Hola,

As you probably realized by the media, one the latest Trump´s administration executive order has been to ban the entrance of immigrants and citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen in the country. As UNL scholar and J-1 immigrant, I´m proud to be part of an international community with more than 3,000 students and scholars from around the about. I´m enormously grateful to all UNL community who received me as at home. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln embraces diversity and cultural engagement as a centerpiece for thriving within the top 20 American Universities for more than a century.

With these small words, I would like to express all of my support to all immigrants and citizens from muslim countries who may be affected by this unfair decision. I wish this will be a temporary measure and that banning will be normalised promptly.

Xavier

 

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EPIIC leadership workshop

Hola!

Today I have the opportunity to participate in a very interesting workshop led by Dr. Marquita Qualls (@drqualls on twitter) about leadership. The workshop has been aimed to learn the EPIIC principles in leadership: Entrepreneur, Profesional adaptability, Intrapersonal awareness, Interpersonal communication and Cultural consciousness. Let me sum up each of the 5 concepts by asking questions that arose from myself after the workshop:

img_3319While entrepreneur consists in how well do you sell yourself in the market (when I say market I’m referring to academia, industry or management), profesional adaptability is about how you can adapt your technical/ soft aptitudes and skills to different jobs that requires different capabilities. Most of you would say: yes, of course I can do that, but this is really what I want to do? To shift from my comfort place will motivate myself? Or will demotivate due to new scenarios? Intrapersonal awareness is perhaps the most important concept of the EPIIC concept. It isn’t in the heart of the EPIIC because causality: who I am? who I want to be? A good exercise to start is through a SWOT analysis (Strenght, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats). Interpersonal communication: do I feel more confident by communicating myself via speaking or writing? How well do I feel with ambiguity? How can I handle with a defensive person? Finally, Cultural consciousness, which is not a trivial issue in our present-day global world: Do I feel confident to work with foreign people who have diverse cultures? Do I have enough open mind to receive well younger/older´ people feedbacks?

Having a positive attitude, not being competitive and being confortable with uncertainty are at least, to me, the ground levels to move forward in the science in general, and at the postdoc level in particular. Ah! And I think also that keep facing to new challenges every day will help to train yourself!

Xavier

 

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Courses, meetings and seminars at UNL

Hola! Hi!

Current week is clear that a new academic year has begun at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The City Campus has filled with students going up and down, occupying the Adele Hall Learning Commons and Nebraska Unions libraries, and attending degree lectures. Altogether, they are giving a nice social and friendly atmosphere which I have missed a lot since my arrival this early summer.

I’ve started to grasp what studying and working at the UNL means: to participate and to get actively involved in all university components. For starting, and thanks to my postdoc supervisor, Sheri Fritz, I have the opportunity to attend her Quatenary palaeoclimate and palaeoecology course with undergraduates, graduates and phd students. It is a a very active course, where students are responsible of leading discussions about different quaternary science topics: atmosphere and oceanic circulations, paleolimnology, glacial-interglacial cycles, etc.

Also, in the Fritz lab, we will meet every weak to talk about common research topics, read and comment papers, or explain our previous experience in science. In this sense, I will give to lab members a short presentation about my PhD thesis on the ecology and palaeoecology of the Ebro Delta. I hope to expose it during the upcoming Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science seminars as well. I’m very excited to share my ideas and experience with geologists, climatologists and paleontologists, and I’m feel lucky to learn of them.

Xavier

 

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