The everyday life of a biology Master’s student

So I’m doing my Master’s this year. It means I spend a lot of time not taking photos (most of my University career has meant this, to be honest), and instead I spend a lot of time reading, writing, and frantically filling out Health and Safety forms so I’m allowed to go and enjoy my field work. But most of the time (so far), I’m sat at a desk 9-5.

I made a goal at the start of this year to document my everyday life a bit more. This is easy with the camera that lives in my pocket in the form of my phone. Looking back on my photographs from the past few years, many of the ones that really strike a chord with me are the ones of my everyday life. Things change so quickly at the moment that I value the ability to look back and remember what my everyday life looked like last year, the year before that, all the way back to my first year of University (which was a long time ago now!). So here’s a look at my current everyday life:

My trusty steed! I don’t own a car – I cycle to and from University nearly every day, and use public transport the rest of the time (like when there’s thunderstorms and flooding). I love the rhythm of cycling in the morning and evening, it gives me energy during the day and relaxes me on the way home. Plus a solid (and somewhat hilly) 15kms a day makes for amazing thigh muscles. It took a bit of getting used to – I’m much more into mountain biking – but the cycleway gives me a direct, safe route right into the middle of University from where I live.

This is my (suspiciously clean) desk. At the moment I spend 90% of my time here, doing a lot of reading and emailing. For the past two months I’ve been planning my fieldwork and writing the first chapter of my thesis. My birds keep me sane. Yes there is emergency chocolate hidden somewhere. No, I’m not telling you where.

Which I need when some of the things I read have headings like this….dang! Seabird biology can get a little depressing sometimes – but the reason we do it is to combat these “reasons for despair”.

A small amount of my time is spent in the field, collecting samples from these gorgeous birds – Grey-faced Petrels. My research is comparing stress hormones (and other stress-related physiological factors) between different populations of these birds on either coast of Auckland. I’m not going to lie – field work like this is 100% the reason I chose biology. It gives me life!

I adored field trips during my undergraduate years, even when we were stuck in forests in freezing rain for hours. Or battered by spring storms on Tiritiri Matangi. Or up to our thighs in mangrove mud (which isn’t the nicest smelling thing ever).

Being surrounded in the dark by  calling petrels, stars glittering through the canopy, hearing the endless churn of the sea against the cliffs below – that’s my happy place. As you can obviously tell from the photos below!

And my field sites have some pretty sweet views too…

And then there’s this: the hours I spend back in the lab processing my samples! I was dreading this part of my research (I have done very little lab work before, and whatever we did in undergrad has long escaped my memory), but I actually enjoy it a lot more than I was anticipating.

Except this particular job, which is counting red blood cells.

Manually.

But it’s all part of the process! And getting to write down and compile my data is quite exciting – I can’t wait to start analysing it when I finally have everything! That’s a while off yet, I’ll be doing field trips to collect samples well into November/December this year, but I’m looking forward to every moment.

 

2 Comments

  1. Karen May 8, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

    Hi Edin,
    Wow, sounds like interesting research. It is really great to read about your everyday life, I wish I had taken a different path with my studies years ago and it is interesting to learn more about what you are up to! I was wondering about how you manage to be doing the trips you take at sea when you photograph.
    Karen

    • Edin May 11, 2017 at 9:45 am #

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed reading about it – my blog this year is probably going to veer more towards my research than my usual photography.

      The trips I do down to the subantarctic islands are with Heritage Expeditions. In 2015 I applied for a scholarship to travel with them, and last year I was back on an internship. Their subantarctic season is late spring/early summer, which co-incides nicely with when I have had time off from University!

      Edin