Sunday, April 26, 2009

So, yet again, a month has gone by between posts. I suppose I’d never survive as a professional blogger. At least it was a busy and enjoyable month. At the end of March, Ines came to spend two weeks in Plön before starting her new job at That was like being on holiday. I quit working at 6 to come home and spend time with my girlfriend, and I didn’t do any work on the weekend. Makes me wonder why I chose this crazy profession…

Over the Easter holidays, Katri, a friend from Finland, came to visit Ines and I. We started in Hamburg on the Thursday before Easter and visited the world famous Reeperbahn. The highlight of the evening was Ines getting her picture taken with Germany’s most famous drag queen. Rarely have I seen her so excited. The next day we drove to Leipzig and spent Friday and Saturday experiencing all that the city has to offer…shopping, sights, cocktail bars, vegetarian restaurants, etc. On Easter Sunday, sleep-deprived and hungover, we drove to Ines’s sister in Ebersdorf in Bavaria to celebrate her 40th birthday. The weather was sunny and the atmosphere relaxed, but I had the feeling that Katri was intimidated by Ines’s rambunctious and talkative family members.

On Tuesday morning, I took the train back to Plön, but my stay was short. The next day I flew from Hamburg to Riga for the 3rd meeting of the Scandinavian-Baltic Society of Parasitologists. Sound exciting? Well, it was and wasn’t. It was exciting because I was invited to give a plenary lecture, thanks to my PhD advisor who was on the scientific organizing committee. I practiced quite a lot for my first invited talk at an international meeting, and I think it paid off. After my 30-minute talk about complex life cycles, I received quite a lot questions, and later that evening I even had beers with two of the other invited speakers. So I managed to spark some real interest among my colleagues. In any case, Tellervo, my former advisor, appeared more than satisfied with my performance. And what about the not so exciting part of the meeting? Well, quite a lot of parasitologists still do mind-numbingly boring research, particularly on the veterinary side. For example, there were presentations about the morphological systematics of some blood protozoans and the prevalence of fox tapeworms in Latvian raccoon dogs. These are studies with a narrow audience addressing small questions, and they are difficult to sit through. When I have to listen to these kinds of talks, I am glad that I am no longer working in a classical parasitology lab. Though I still consider myself a parasitologist first and then an evolutionary biologist, I am glad that the academic environment that I am in nowadays gives me a broader perspective and motivates me to tackle big questions.