Over this week and next, the semester reaches its climax. On Monday, I tried to get my students organized for collecting data, but we didn't really get everything set until Wednesday. Last night, I went with one group to collect data at the East Amherst Common. I'll go with another group tomorrow. The other groups haven't contacted me -- I suspect that means they'd just as soon not have me go with them. The goal is to have the data collected by Monday, which will give us a full week to analyze the data and write the final reports. It would have been good to have another week, but I'm really excited by the data we're collecting.
This semester, the students chose to look at lichens on trees. I love lichens -- I've always thought they were really cool. We're collecting imagery of lichens on trees on town property in Amherst. This is a critical year to collect the imagery, because the coal-fired cogeneration plant on campus is shutting down this year, being replaced by a new oil and gas fired plant. The imagery we collect now can serve as a baseline for studying the changes in air quality associated with the new plant. And we're looking at a bunch of other factors: distance and orientation of roads, traffic, north-south orientation, species, and distance to other trees. There is real potential here for publishable work.
We had a great party in the department to celebrate Zane receiving the Distinguished Teaching Award. The chairman said a few words and then Randy and I each spoke a bit. It was such a treat to see Zane surrounded by her colleagues and students. And friends -- friends all. I sometimes get frustrated by the University and the senseless way they approach things and then I remember who I get to work with. Zane and Randy and Elizabeth... And George and Chris and Robbie... And Tom and Tom and Sally and Brian and Elsbeth... And everyone. Well, not quite everyone. But I really love my job. What wonderful people and what a great place I have to work.