The nice thing about working at a big university is there is always something happening, even during summer break.
This morning, a professor from Ethiopia, Dr. Seifu Tilahun, who was visiting the college, gave a seminar about irrigation challenges in Ethiopia at the Borlaug Institute, one building over from my office. It's always fascinating to learn about research in other countries, and to discuss common ideas and challenges. Similar to the U.S., water quality in agricultural areas is a big problem in Ethiopia. Heavy rainfall washes crop fertilizer into streams and lakes and pollutes the groundwater, often the only source of drinking water, especially in rural areas. Practices that can reduce erosion and over-fertilizing, like no-till farming, are known and available, but adoption in the real world takes a long time, no matter how much they make sense to ecologists and economists.
Back in my office, I had to sort out two things before I get started with coding. The first involved paperwork and some physical exercise, two things I got used to quickly in a large department like mine. I needed to register for a coding workshop on campus in August, but I didn't know how pay for it. Most faculty have work credits cards, but for some reason I didn't. So, a quick walk to our business admins in another building, and a few signatures later I had a temporary credit card and could register for the workshop (sadly, I'll have to return it tomorrow).
The second involved Dr. Cait Rottler, a fellow postdoc in Oklahoma with the Agricultural Research Service, the research branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cait and I are planning a science communication workshop at a rangeland conference next February in Colorado. Good communication is important in research, so that scientists from different fields understand each other and work well together. Cait and I both work in climate change adaptation and know what a challenge this is. More than probably most areas, climate change is one where collaboration between disciplines is key to get things done, from engineering to social sciences to economics and ecology. And our workshop will help with that – or at least that's what we think. Today was the deadline to submit proposals – and with most things that have a deadline, we submitted it in time, but only just :-) We should find out in September if our workshop concept got accepted.
Eventually, after a late lunch and much later than I had hoped, I sat down to work on my data analysis. I only had about three hours before my day was over, which isn't enough to start coding. But that was enough time sketch things out and get started. It's important to know the bigger picture and to develop smaller goals, before starting to write the code to get there. That's what I did today, and tomorrow I will home in on this more.
Here is Tuesday. Wonder what this is about? Here's the intro blog post.