I know from surveying my students at the beginning of every school year that their perception of scientists is that they all wear white lab coats, have crazy hair, wear glasses, are super smart in a “human computer” kind of way, and they are all nerds with nerdy senses of humor, assuming they even have any at all. While my jokes don’t usually dispel that particular stereotype in their minds, they get the point that scientists do not all look like Einstein nor act like the characters on the Big Bang Theory when I show them pictures and talk about the scientists I’ve worked with in the past. And this expedition is no different! There have been times I’ve laughed so hard, my stomach felt like I had done 300 sit-ups. Gregarious and garrulous, handsome and beautiful, interesting, athletic, with talents extending well beyond the laboratory, these are the really cool people with whom I get to spend two months getting to know.
For instance, nannofossil specialist Deborah Tangunan is a fire dancer – she gave us a taste of her abilities during the Hump Day party and dance, using LEDs instead of fire of course, but she dances with real fire when in the appropriate setting (photos courtesy of Jens Gruetzner).
Physical properties specialist Jens Gruetzner is a ping pong master (for real). Paleontologist Dick Norris had a childhood on par with “We Bought A Zoo”. He and Jens also happen to be two of the numerous (at least four) excellent photographers on board. I already told you that paleontologist Luna Brentegani was also a ballet dancer in a previous post. Finally, Sophie Hines is truly a photoshop maestro.
I know there are hidden talents beyond the ones I’ve mentioned, but I’m still getting to know everyone, and enjoying every minute of it.