First Goals and Aspirations for 2020

First full moon of 2020 over Gezer Park in Leawood, Kansas.

Avila University started its regular spring semester about two weeks ago. Seems I’ve hardly drawn a breath, and the month has already slipped by! After some worry that I might be teaching an overload again this spring, I managed to negotiate with the powers that be so that my teaching obligations remain within contract. This will provide some much-needed time to catch up on tasks neglected last fall, namely research and writing. I have four students finishing their capstone projects this spring and three more joining my lab, so it is going to be a very busy and exciting semester.

Among the happenings in my corner of Avila Biology:

It’s official: I’m being promoted to full professor!! The letter from the President arrived Christmas Eve, no less. Great news for finishing up the fall semester and starting the New Year.

My laboratory exercise Using Citizen Science Data to Explore Bumblebee Diversity and Distribution has now been published on the LifeDiscoveryEd Digital Library. This is an open-source repository of peer-reviewed pedagogical materials available to all educators. You can check out my lesson and other media at the LifeDiscoveryEd web site.

In addition, I have a short paper coming out in the March issue of Ecological Restoration, based on the urban bee projects completed with Avila alumna Laura Presler. Stay tuned for more on that when the article appears in about a month.

I am in the process of determining my spring and summer conference schedule, crafting and submitting abstracts for events with the Kansas Academy of Science, the North American Congress for Conservation Biology, and the Society for Ecological Restoration’s North American Conference: Reclaim, Restore, and Rewild. (Seriously, who would not want to attend a conference with that title?) Not sure if I will attend all of these events – depends on who’s interested in hearing the stories my lab has to tell. But I’ll let you know as the schedule firms up.

Last but not least, I’m preparing to submit my application for permit renewal to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to continue our bee work in the Kansas City area. This requires not only summarizing last year’s results, but proposing a plan for the upcoming field season. Once I have everything mapped out, which should be in the next couple weeks, I’ll update my bee page with information about summer 2020. A sneak preview: MDC along with Bridging the Gap/KC Wildlands are implementing some novel approaches to managing their prairies, so one of our projects will be to assess whether their efforts have the desired effect on target groups of native bees.

These are some of the priority tasks on my mind as we launch into spring semester. I also hope to spend more time with my online journal, reflecting on various themes tied to the work I do and sharing updates as the field season picks up later this spring.

I have also, for the first time in forever, agreed to participate in a speculative fiction reading hosted at The Writers Place here in Kansas City, MO. Scheduled for the evening of Friday, March 6, the event will feature five area authors. Yes, I will be reading excerpts from my amazing award-winning trilogy. And yes, books will be available for sale and signing. Mark your calendars – and please watch my web site for more information.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

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