Monday, June 06, 2005

What a really fun night!

So today my adviser had his yearly summer party at his place in Clintonville, just north of campus. It was a nice day. It was really warm out, and there were isolated T-storms elsewhere in the city, so later in the evening we got a nice cool breeze and some neat lightning flashes around us.

Anyway, I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't want to talk about research. I knew people who were there were grad students who I don't talk to socially a whole lot. I didn't know how many people would be there.

I got there and found my adviser (Passino), my bio psuedo-adviser (Waite), another controls prof (Serrani), and a couple of my adviser's other grad students. Eventually the other two trickled in. The oldest had his wife and kids. Two of the others brought their girlfriends. So in the end, it was a pretty small group.

And it was a lot of fun. A few of us (including me, go figure!) worked on making the food in a group (the onions did a real number on my eyes!). We played with the kids. We sat and talked. Serrani (age ~38) is apparently married to a PhD student (age ~28) whose biological clock is ticking. She wants four kids. He says his biological clock has stopped. He wants no kids. :) They're going to compromise on 1 sometime in the next year and a half, but he doesn't know where he'll sleep when they have the kid. Not real fatherly right now, poor guy. :)

I got to talk to Professor Waite a whole lot, which was nice. I finally learned the geneticist's name, so that's good. I also found out that she's just done something MAJOR in her research. She apparently is working on the global reduction in numbers of amphibians. Apparently she's found some phylogenetic clumping that appears to be the smoking gun. I don't want to give too many details because she hasn't published anything yet, but it's pretty fascinating. Anyway, after that we made fun of anthropologists a *LOT*, and that was fun. Then he told me an interesting story...

You see, last summer I took one of the undergrad EEOB courses on Evolution taught by Professor Jerry Downhower. The material itself wasn't very new; I had covered a great deal of it in my own readings before I ever took the class. However, it was really helpful to hear Downhower teach the material. There's just something about actually hearing it from an expert's mouth in person that goes much further than just reading it in a book. Anyway, I had mentioned this to Professor Waite once (apparently) and one day when he was talking to Downhower, he relayed this onto him. Apparently Downhower was feeling pretty down that week (or longer?) and the story struck a nerve. It apparently drove Downhower to tears and Waite had to escort him back to his office! I wasn't sure what to say! (I'd like to say more about what I know about Downhower, but I'm not going to put it in this post)

So I ended up being at my adviser's place for eight hours. I got to know the grad students a little better. I had a good time. I was in a GREAT mood afterwards. I'm really happy I came. I'm looking forward to going next year.

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