The students left last Saturday from the program, and everyone has been taking some time to rest. We had a great last week of the program with some osteology and QGIS workshops, but mostly working on final posters and preparing for presentations.
Mustafa and Katey reflect on some of the last week:
“Sleep was perhaps the hardest thing to come by in the last week. Most of us had our data and were interpreting the results; that is no easy task when your results tell you two very different things. However, some of us who were using isotopic analysis were still waiting on data! Waiting for data as the poster-presentation drew closer taught us one very stressful lesson – research is unpredictable, and you can best prepare yourself by being flexible. Thankfully, the data came just-in-time and our isotope-students breathed a sigh of relief as they plotted their graphs, and their posters were printed.”
After a busy week of workshops and final data collection and analysis, it was time for the poster symposium! The students practiced their talks in front of the whole group Thursday afternoon and took the feedback from that experience to practice even more!
We wanted to take time in our final blog post to acknowledge the efforts of those who helped make our projects, and this program, a success! Although the success of each student’s independent research project was a focus of this program, the research experience and professional development were at the program’s core.
First, we would like to thank our Italian collaborators for their hospitality and for making the data collection process productive yet a learning experience for us. Next, we would like to thank the staff and faculty at the University of Georgia for their panel discussions, workshops, lectures and continuous support that not only taught us skills we will carry forward but led to the eventual success of our projects. Then, we would like to thank the graduate students who worked with us on this program. Starting with Carey Garland and April Smith, who worked with students (Mustafa and Ashley, respectively) on their projects during our time at UGA, helping with data collection, interpretation, and the posters. Next are Elijah (Eli) Fleming and Katie Reinberger. Eli, we thank you for your help in bridging the language barrier in Italy, the lectures, workshops, presentation, and for helping us with data collection while ensuring that we learn from the questions we ask. Katie, you have been with us from day 1! Thank you so much for your lectures, workshops, and presentation. But more importantly, thank you for troubleshooting, helping with this blog, printing the posters, being a supportive mentor, and for all the small tasks you did that we didn’t notice. We appreciate you!
Finally, we want to thank our project directors and mentors. Dr. Reitsema and Dr. Kyle, thank you so much for being supportive and wonderful mentors. Our research interests, critical analysis skills, data interpretation, and level of writing are far better leaving the program than they were coming in – all thanks to the two of you! From the moment we submitted our first research proposals, they encouraged us to think broader, read more, and write better. You challenged and pushed us to become better scientists while providing us with the skills necessary through the various workshops you conducted and organized that helped us succeed in our projects. We are so grateful for your efforts and are lucky to have role-models like you.
Mustafa and Katey