Science rarely waits at your office door and most likely follows you home, engaging your family and friends. Drawn to the interesting science, friends and family become helpers, facilitators and allies in your research. However, the contribution of your relatives and friends may go totally unrecognised in the ultimate output of your research – the published paper. By sharing her own story in this blog post, our Associate Editor Marina Semchenko wanted to give some credit to the friends and family who support her scientific career. Your friends and family helpers (but also your undergrads, master students, trainees, etc.) deserve it too, and if you want to share your own stories, please get in touch with the Blog Team or tweet it with #EcologyCommunity
The main focus of Marina’s research is on plant behaviour. She is particularly interested in the mechanisms that mediate plant-plant interactions and in establishing how the nature of plant responses to neighbours is affected by the evolutionary history of the species involved in the interaction. Marina is a Research Fellow within the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester.
Science with friends and family
Being a scientist is one of those jobs that is hard to leave at the office door. Long working hours, conferences and field trips often take a toll on your social life and leave little time to spend with family. These aspects often make me feel guilty and frustrated. But sometimes science and family life combine leaving fond memories. I remember puzzling over the best way to arrange plants in pots for a large competition experiment and my in-laws got completely immersed in the problem and spent our holiday together drawing various geometric designs.
I am also lucky to have an ecologist husband who is regularly involved in my various ventures, be it root washing, searching shops for peculiar objects necessary for my next experiment or fieldwork.
My four-year-old daughter helps with watering at the greenhouse, collecting seeds and soil samples in the field and of course she knows all about fungi living in plant roots. As I write this, I am about to go on yet another hybrid of sampling and family trip. I have just realised that I requested permission for two researchers to sample soil in a nature reserve, forgetting about my third little helper!
I am extremely thankful to my family for sharing my enthusiasm for science. A lot of help stays behind the scenes, but it can be vital and also great fun!
Marina Semchenko, Associate Editor of Journal of Ecology, University of Manchester, UK.