|Left to Right: ESO's Alex Wülbers, Associate Professor|
Marco Coolen and myself at breakfast
So with most major topics covered by voices that carry more authority than mine; I wanted to talk about the times in between working and operations, the free time. Because this is the stuff that has really stuck with me since I returned. Now before I go any further I want to preface the rest of this by saying “this is not an advert for working with the IODP”. Although I can’t help it if you take it that way and I would still recommend it personally… especially to Early Career Scientists (ECS’s).
|Everyone was a long way from home|
At this point I should introduce why people make the insane choice to live on a 42 m long platform with 33 other people for up to 2 months. Because they love what they do, it’s their passion. And this makes for some rather interesting free time conversations, because there isn’t really any cognitive free time… and that’s fine! Personally I was on shift with: impact petrologist Auriole Rae, organic Geochemist Marco Cooleen, and expedition co-chief scientist Sean Gulick; along with a whole host of ESO staff – all specialists and successful scientists in their own right. Such diversity meant that conversation topics ranged from meteorite impact models to rock core curation processes; making quick stops at microbiological and geochemical testing methods. As well as simple things like: ‘what’s for dinner’ and ‘how many days after you get home will it take to binge-watch Game of Thrones’. Now bear with me here because this is the point where I may lose your trust and you may start to believe that this is indeed an advert. Collaboration and knowledge sharing are both fundamental corporate values to the IODP. It says right at the beginning of the IODP Science Plan for the period 2013-2023, in the Executive Summary section: “This science plan for the International Ocean Discovery Program is intended to guide multidisciplinary, international collaboration in scientific ocean drilling during the period 2013 to 2023.” When I read this I envisioned formal invites to conferences and black tie events where participants critique one another’s work, listing the pros and cons of working together. And these events may still occur, in addition to the informal exchanges I experienced offshore.
|Not a bad view I'd say|
I know personally that I came away from a week at sea knowing far more about a much wider range of topics simply by being involved in such a project. I can honestly say that the expedition has been the most motivational week of my life, and I had already decided that I love what I do. That is why I recommend getting involved with IODP if you are an ECS, not just because it is exciting to be on the front lines of discovery for your OWN science; but because you are on the front of everyone else’s as well and you never know where that may take you.