Today’s diary

People may wonder what a typical scientist does all day and I find that question really difficult to answer. I don’t have a ‘typical’ day as a scientist wears many hats and everyday tasks are hugely variable. Whether I am in the lab/office/teaching/field/conference has a big effect on what I will be doing on any given day.

Today is a typical day in the office…

7:20am   Woken by screaming toddler. While this may not be early by some standards, I am not a morning person.

8:00   Husband takes toddler to nursery. I quickly down a cup of coffee and leftover food from toddlers breakfast. I wonder how in the world he managed to get salt on the banana…

8:30   Ride my bike down to the Plant Sciences building to pick up undergraduate exams that need to be marked. Am told they need to be returned by the next day.

8:45   Ride my bike over to the Zoology Department building.

9:00   Have my second cup of coffee for the day. Write a list of what I need to accomplish today. Mark Exams. Organize having an old desktop delivered from one building to another, get IT to figure out how to log in, make a copy of a very important file. Follow along with a tutorial on using fancy image recognition software/learn how to be an engineer in 30 minutes or less. Make a composite image of my field site. Spoiler alert: In the end, almost none of that will be achieved.

9:15   Read and send a few emails. One is about finding a location for filming an outreach video. Another is about a new aquarium facility that is being built. I am the representative for all the users and am in charge of designing the different aquarium systems. I spend the next 45 minutes reading up on coral husbandry requirements.

10:00   I have a meeting at 11 and need to read some papers and get my head around some concepts before then. I have my third cup of coffee. Respond to contractor/project manager about requirements for the new aquarium systems.

11:00   Meeting with Marian Stamp Dawkins about a new experiment I want to run. We discuss the different methods other research groups have tried and how we can use a particular test to answer my question without over interpreting the results.

12:00    Switch to decaf tea because I think that might be slightly healthier than having more coffee.

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My desk at lunch complete with scattered notes, papers, lists and an orange that is at least two weeks old.

12:45   Meeting finished and I am super excited about the plan but realize I need a bit of money to try out my ideas. Quickly look up possible small grant opportunities. I have missed two deadlines but one grant doesn’t have any set deadlines. Perfect.

1:00  Receive an email saying nursery fees are going up due to inflation. Spend 5 minutes worrying about how my rent, food and childcare costs are going up every year but my salary isn’t.

1:05  Buy lunch and eat at my desk. Normally I do socialise and take a break.

1:30   Respond to emails about the new aquarium specs required for the next two and a half hours. There are six different rooms holding freshwater and marine fish as well as corals. I need to make sure everyone has an aquarium that suits the animal welfare and experimental requirements.  During this time, that old desktop I was waiting for arrived.

4:00   I realize I only have an hour left to mark those exams.

4:35   A thunderstorm hits. I quickly call my husband and ask for a drive home as I don’t feel like cycling home in this weather. Looks like I will be marking exams this evening as there is no way I can finish before my ride arrives.

5:00   Leave for the day and finally bin that old orange on the way out.

5:15   Pick up my toddler. Go home and start dinner. I fertilize my flowers and vegetables as it is best done when the soil is wet. I plant three watermelon seedlings.

7:00   Try to put my toddler to bed but the thunderstorm keeps him awake.

9:20   My child finally falls asleep. I consider marking those exams but decide I need to improve my work/life balance.

10:30   Sleep.

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