My goals were quite specific: gain experience in planning, collecting and curating trait and ecosystem function data and; meet other like-minded scientists in the field of trait ecology to build an international network. I think that both of these goals were met in full during my short stay in Peru. Although the field work and analysis were cut short, the TraitWheelTM gave me really valuable insight into how to collect, measure and curate trait data from the field, while at the same time getting to know some of the course and build my network!
The fieldwork was fantastic fun, and undoubtedly the best way to learn how to measure ecosystem CO2 fluxes, get familiar with the hardware (for example fuse changes on a Licor , sampling techniques and re-familiarise myself with the basics of field administration (note to self – more snacks, extra thermos flask for Matiss and a spare tarpaulin or tent for the rain!)
Cutting the course short didn’t detract from these goals as such but did make the depth of the experiences gained shallower, and friendships made fewer.
b. What did you learn about yourself during this course?
I learned that my anxieties about working for my PhD are pretty widespread, most people worry about the same things, and in the context of what is going on in the world they aren’t really a big deal. I also started to learn to have fun again.