Last week I took a trip to MARS, not the actual Mars but the Fulda MARS, the where the wolves live MARS and the rather intense world of trying to figure out how aquatic systems (freshwater, groundwater and transitional waters) respond to multiple stressors, from the single water body scale to the European scale. Quite a task, and quite a meeting. I'm involved in two parts of the project, one looking at how cyanobacteria (an indicator of freshwater quality, for ecosystem functioning and for ecosystem services like drinking water and recreation) respond to multiple stressors in single water bodies, using shallow lake experimental tanks - you can hear about this here. The other part is exploring how cyanobacteria respond to the same stressors (climate change and eutrophication) at a Pan-European scale, to do this I am using data from 1300 lakes across Europe to see how the response of cyanobacteria to multiple stressors varies by lake type (depth, size, mixing regime, alkalinity, altitude and so on).
Where the wolves live
The meeting marked the half way point of the project; during the week we updated each other on our progress and discussed our results so far. The scope of the project is amazing and being delivered by some great minds. What was particularly striking, and something that has impressed me since I started my PhD is the number of women in science, and particularly the number in top positions. I've never really been a pusher of feminism, maybe because I've never felt any oppression in my field, I feel that I have always been encouraged, supported and given equal opportunities. However, it seems fitting to mention this because during the MARS week it was International Women's Day, and on that day I stood up and presented my work as a scientist, was given an opportunity as a woman to be intelligent, to be respected, to use my mind and to be listened to as an equal. It is easy for me to be flippant about feminism on any other day, but only two generations ago none of this would have been possible for me as a woman (just to confirm, I have always been a woman...) and so I think some respectful reflective thanks should be given to the women who paved the way for me to be where I am today.
During the meeting it felt quite empowering to be surrounded by an equal mix of men and women who took no care or notice of their sex but instead combined the power of their minds and their individual merits to get on with the job in hand. Because ultimately we are different, in our abilities to communicate, problem solve, conceptualise and organise, and so together we can achieve more.
Talking about the shallow lakes experiment - photo credit to the organisers
Working on the rivers and lakes experiments data. I won't show you the other one of my screen full of red lines of code, from this angle I can be doing very clever things! - photo credit to the organisers
Some of the team of excellent minds!
So there you go - women are from MARS too.
I have managed to turn my rather unhealthy obsession with plankton in to my day job. Things don't get much better than this! This blog documents my PhD research and the plankton delights I encounter along the way.