My year in review – bring on 2017!

2016 is screeching to a halt, so I thought I’d do a brief wrap up of the big things that happened last year to me, and what I’m hoping for and looking forward to in 2017.

For reasons I won’t go into, 2016 was a pretty tumultuous year for me in terms of my PhD. Fortunately, after long periods of uncertainty, I managed to come out of it at the end, in large part because I’ve been able to move to Bristol and complete my write up there with my Bristol supervisor Emily Rayfield. I miss being in Southampton with my friends, but this has been so amazing for my work being able to be in a large palaeo group with people who know about my project. And they have been so welcoming and accommodating too which is great.

First and foremost, I published a paper! This paper isn’t strictly speaking part of my PhD, but it’s something I’m really proud of and was entirely shocked by the attention it got. To read more about the ptiny pterosaur from Hornby Island described with Mark Witton, Victoria Arbour, and Phil Currie, check out my blog post. I also currently have 2 papers in review, 1 as lead, and 1 as a co-author. Unfortunately these are also not related to my PhD, but they are still papers!

I was also fortunate enough to make it to 3 conferences last year, including 2 large international conferences. In June/July I made it to Washington, DC for the first time where I presented some of my PhD work on pterosaur wing bone thickness and air space proportion at the International Congress on Vertebrate Morphology. It was my first time at the meeting and I absolutely loved it. I would highly recommend anyone working on vertebrate morphology to check it out. It’s held every 3 years, and will be in Prague in 2019. You can read a bit about my experience here. At the end of August I made a quick appearance at SVPCA in Liverpool where I was not presenting, but attended a meeting as the elected student advisor. It was good to catch up with everyone and see what people were doing. Then in October I made another trip to the US to go to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting in Salt Lake City. This was my second time at the biggest meeting in our field, but first time at one in the US. I presented a poster on some of my PhD work on pterosaur sacral nerves that I am currently writing up with the help of Darren Naish.

I continued with my work for Palaeocast, interviewing a handful of people including David Evans from the Royal Ontario Museum, Jason Anderson from the University of Calgary, and John Hutchinson from the Royal Veterinary College. I also joined the Canadian science communication community Science Borealis as a Multimedia Co-editor, where I’ve written a few pieces including this one on palaeoart that I’m pretty happy about. Oh ya, and my partner and I started a business! We sell sort of niche electronics that can be used in photonics experiments, based on some stuff he developed during his PhD.


So what does 2017 hold for me? Well first and foremost, I am truly entering the year of #thesissaysno. I will be writing, writing, writing and working, working, working. I have 3 months to finish the majority of my work on various PhD projects and wrap up my research. Then, at the end of March, my partner and I are heading to Japan for 3 months where he will do a 3 month fellowship with a group there, and I will write my thesis. I think this will be a good place for me to write, free of my usual distractions. I’m hoping to be able to travel around a little bit, but we’ll have to see how my writing is going. If all works according to plan. I will submit my thesis in July… Fingers crossed!

I’m also working on a handful of papers right now that I hope to send off soon. I have 2 from my PhD that are nearing submission stage, and a few other ones that I’m helping out with that aren’t PhD related. With some luck I can get some of those submitted before I reach full-time writing stage. I’ve got my eyes on a few conference this year, definitely looking at SVP in Calgary in August (it’s so close to home!), and SVPCA in Birmingham. I’d love to make it to EAVP in Munich as well, but so close to my hand-in date and just after getting back from Japan suggests that won’t happen… But who knows.

I’ve got a Master’s student at Bristol this year working on some mass estimation stuff I think will be pretty cool, and we’ve got a PhD project advertised for next year on pterosaur quadrupedal launch that I’m excited to be part of. Deadline for that is coming up soon so check it out if you or anyone you know is interested!

As for after my PhD, I really have no idea what I’ll be doing. I’m hoping to do a post-doc to stay in Bristol, but who knows if that is going to happen or not. I have a few research ideas of some things I really want to do, moving away from pterosaurs and some of the work I’ve been doing in my PhD. These are some projects that I am super excited about, but need to find some money for. In the meantime, once I’m done my PhD, I’m looking forward to getting back to some long dormant papers that I need to write up…

I’m looking forward to 2017, which is a pretty big year for me: finishing my thesis and getting a PhD (hopefully…), turning 30 (eeeek!), and also celebrating 10 years together with my husband, which will be while we’re in Japan. Bring on 2017!!!


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