Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sometimes at a teaching institution you are an island

I wore this awesome t-shirt at work today designed by Ainsley Seago (@americanbeetles on twitter)  and nobody got the joke. Some of my colleagues looked amused and a couple of my last semester General Entomology students looked like they understood there was a joke somewhere, but nothing more than that. Yes, perhaps you need a Ph. D. in insect systematics to get it*, but that's not the point. The point is that in a primarily undergraduate teaching institute chances are your colleagues will not have a clue about your research. I am not saying this as a negative thing about my colleagues; each one of us is doing his/her own thing but because of the particular institutional circumstances it is rather rare that two faculty will have the same research interest. For example, there are a number of systematists at UTC but nobody else does insects. Sometimes I really miss working in an entomology department or/and a museum...

* On the t-shirt there is a picture of a male Strepsiptera, known as a the twisted-winged parasites. In the 90s there was a lot of controversy regarding the sister group of Strepsiptera (whether they were related to Coleoptera or Diptera) and their phylogenies were used as a prime example of long branch attraction