AOU/COS/SCO 2008 Meeting
I have been away all week in Portland, OR at the AOU/COS/SCO 2008 Meeting. At first, I felt very misplaced there, but I soon found company.
1. I managed to to recognize ecologygirl from the photograph in her avatar. She introduced me to her colleague and said encouraging things after I professed my nervousness in such an unfamiliar environment.
2. I finally met Professor Kevin McGraw, whom I have been “stalking” for the past two years. We talked briefly about pterins. And he asked me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I told him that I would like to remain in the field of physical sciences while indulging my interest in birds. With that, he offered to introduce me to Professor Richard O. Prum, whom for his work in demonstrating that structural coloration in birds is due to coherent scattering, I have long admired. Alas, Professor Prum departed early from the conference, before I had a chance to meet and greet him with all of my questions.
3. I recognized the surname on the name tag of Teresa Feo. At first, I only knew her name but I could not immediately recollect in which context I knew her name, and I was already excitedly approaching her before it occurred to me that she was one of the authors of the mechanical sonation study, of which I wrote before. Teresa Feo is an undergraduate, who by the time she secures a graduate advisor, will already have a first author publication. She introduced me to Chris Clark, the co-author and her graduate “mentor,” who was very interested in determining the stiffness of the outer retrices of Anna’s Hummingbirds. He offered to send me some surplus feathers with which to work. I am also grateful to him for agreeing to “preview” my presentation as a way of rendering my talk suitable for biologists.
4. I had a chance to ask Professor Kirk Klasing, author of one of the references in the previous post, about that mysterious Fe peak that we observed in EDX spectra of rhamphotheca of Toco Toucan and whether or not it could be diagnostic of hæmatochromatosis. I also asked him about research opportunities in Avian Sciences Graduate Group at his university.
5. At the student dinner, I shared with Chris Clark and Teresa Feo, the privelege of talking with Dr. Kimberly S. Bostwick, co-star of the Michael Jackson manakin footage, and former student of Professor Prum. She told engaging stories and had a lot of ideas, and I felt comfortable seated there in the cluster of mechanical sonation researchers. Dr. Bostwick assured me that I had “come to the right place.”
This is a mere skeletal overview of the positive experience and encounters. I left Portland feeling motivated, excited, and hopeful about research opportunities for some kind of an engineer in ornithology.