As I allude to elsewhere, my second round of searching for a graduate program has fallen back to my research with Dr Papineau back in the Spring of 2012. During that spring a new and exciting world was unclothed before my eyes as I learned about the global chemical cycles and how our world has shaped them and are shaped by them. This area of studies is rationally called Global Biogeochemical Cycles and represents an interdisciplinary niche between the three de nomen fields of biology, geology, and chemistry. Before I get too technical and boring let me explain why I was left without a mentor in this newfound discipline by the start of the Fall semester.
While seemingly a pretty normal and typical college professor, albeit a tad eccentric as all good college professors are, Dominic Papineau managed to—in less than 72 hours I might add—threaten tribal leaders, verbally threaten acts of terrorism, and get arrested in northern Quebec. So in way of context let me just say that five of us went with Dominic on a field expedition to Schefferville which is this small mining town of perhaps 300 indigenous peoples in northern, and I mean NORTHERN, Quebec.
En route Dominic show signs of becoming unstable, and then once there he managed to threaten the tribal leader and get arrested in less than 12 hours. That has got to be a record! While many of the details will not be appearing here, and the Globe has run an article based on even fewer facts (1)For the Boston Globe article see here, also see the Huffington Post and Maclean’s articles., let me conclude this saga by saying that Dominic was not permitted back at BC again afterwards.
So where did this leave me? I was without a mentor in a niche field with little prospect of being able to continue any similar research in the future, so I was rational about it and gave up on that avenue of research in favor for more “established” sorts. Looking back at it, this was an understandable but regrettable choice; especially because I am now applying to Biogeochemistry programs all around the country.
I have applied to a small cohort of programs which I would like to share with you now. The first, and these are certainly not in any actual order, is the most proximal biogeochemistry program I could find and that is the Oceanography program at BU. Oceanography is a typical home for interdisciplinary chemical cycling research and represents the closest match to my research interests in nearly every university. While BU is close to home, it lacks a bit in the ‘appeal’ category. Perhaps I’m just my prejudges based on my alma mater, but their program seems less enthusiastic than the rest.
The second program I want to share is the Oceanography PhD program out of UMaine. UMaine has a lot going for it since not only does it host one of the premier oceanography programs in the country, but much of its faculty focus on areas similar to my own. Location in New England is certainly also a plus not to mention the great location for many winter and summer time adventures.
The third program his is perhaps my favorite program, or should I say programs? It is a joint degree program out of the University of Rhode Island that combines a PhD in Oceanography with a MA in History. While these two subjects may first appear quite dissimilar, in fact this program brings them together in oceanographic archeology. While this program is also the furthest from my state research goals in terms of Biogeochem, it is the sexiest program around for me. I would love to be accepted to this program.
The fourth program here is a bit more distant but hosts one of the other best oceanography programs in the United States. The oceanography program out of Florida State is similar to UMaine in that it is well respected and in line with my own interests. While the location is quite far afield, the program more than makes up for it with a large and diverse faculty who sport some of the best equipment and tools around. This program would certainly be a spectacular opportunity!
The last program I’ve applied to is a MS degree program located in Alaska. Yeah, I know, Alaska… While it is a fully funded MS program (so that is just two years) working on a very innovative and potentially important project in setting up and designing uses for a suite of new equipment on board the UAF’s newest ice breaker. This program would mandate a ton of shipboard time, which frankly is a plus from where I sit, as well as a promise to use a number of my skills including engineering, programing, math, and general practicality.
As the weeks went on and I attempted to make sense of my position, I heard nothing in response to my applications and prayers. After taking a second, more critical eye to the programs to which I applied, the FSU program moved up my preference list from being tied for third to second and eventually first, yet none of this helped me since I still hadn’t heard anything. Finally the day came when Dr Stukel reached out to me because of our suspected common interests and his appreciation of my diverse background.
After a few email exchanges and a skype video conversation it felt like I had hit the jackpot of opportunities. Dr Stukel turned out to be new faculty and therefore still eager for field work and new avenues of research: a definite plus for the adventurous sort like myself. With January right around the corner (it’s December 1st), I am eager to get started. Checkout my posts on Tallahassee: pre-visit, the visit, and the house.
While there is so much to say about the work I’m doing down here and about the torrent of new experiences, I hope it may suffice to simple direct any interested parties to the #Tallahassee category.
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