Saturday, December 13, 2008

Notes from the 2008 bat meeting

Here is my belated report from this year's annual North American Symposium of Bat Research (a.k.a. NASBR). This year we met in Scranton, PA, and this time without threat of hurricane, so pretty much all the regulars were there. I presented a poster again this year. This time it was about preliminary results from my thesis research on bats in San Francisco. You can see here a map I made showing the different parks in green where I'm looking for bats. So far I've found four different species, although most of the bats are Mexican Freetails (Tadarida brasiliensis.)

My primary goal this year, however, was to scout out potential PhD advisors. I had arranged a lunch meeting with two, and managed to get some time with a third at the conference. To my surprise, they were all interested in me and encouraged me to apply to their schools. I guess I thought that as a non-traditional student I would be less attractive, but it turns out the opposite is true; all that experience in the real world is actually worth something after all. Since my return from the conference I've been busy taking the GRE and asking for letters of recommendation and trying to navigate the grad school application process. How does anyone finish a master's degree while they're doing this? I"m applying to Boston University, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Calgary University. All very far from San Francisco, and much colder.

This year we had updates on bats and wind energy (they're still getting slaughtered at wind turbines) and on the mysterious and tragic white nose syndrome which is killing thousands of bats in caves in the northeastern US. The latter appears at this point to be caused by a fungus that may have originated in Europe, but the results are still very preliminary.

An uneasy alliance

I have been a long-time member of Co-op America, which is soon re-inventing itself as Green America. It's a great organization, but in their zeal for doing good they tend not to hear inconvenient truths such as the impact of turbines on wildlife. I took the opportunity to stop by their booth at the local Green Festival to do a little consciousness raising of my own.