I talked to a lot of successful scientists today!!! And they listened! And talked back! Good, good day.
This morning I had the privilege of speaking with a professor of ecology that was guest lecturing at my school. A couple weeks ago, I went back to visit my AP biology teacher from last year (as I do pretty much 3 times a week or thereabouts) and she was talking to another esteemed biologist who is currently teaching freshman bio next door and his friend, the professor. My old teacher introduced us, and after a brief and awkward on my part exchanging of pleasantries, I sat back and listened to their stories, loving every moment (a Halloween party where everyone dresses up as famous biologists? Yes please!).
So of course I started googling him as soon as he left. I spent the night researching his background and reading a couple of his papers that I could get access to. I stopped by the freshman bio teacher to ask him to read my draft of an email I intended to send to the professor, and he gave me a link to more of the professor’s papers and a more direct email address. The professor and I emailed a bit and then set up a date to meet the next time he visited!
I skipped calc (review day, and I got previous permission so it’s ok) and went to talk to the professor. Over the last few weeks I created 9 main questions, each with their own subquestions to ask the professor about ecology and being a professor and College, ranked in order of importance. To be honest, I was expecting him to give me maybe 15 minutes or so and then wrap it up, so imagine how excited I was to talk to him for the entire period! That’s like 2 hours, people! We discussed the NorCal fires (the entire time I was trying to grasp the fact that I had a professor – whose research is mainly about fires in California – privately lecturing to me about exactly that!), overpopulation, his experiences with small liberal arts schools vs. big public research universities, his favorite part of teaching, and his impatience for electrical cords, among a variety of other topics.
After a couple hours of talking, I shook his hand and left with a renewed brightness for the outlook of my future and a plan for my doctoral research (the professor asked me to invent something for him). I scooted out and went next door to give my bio teacher a big hug. She thinks I’m a bit of a dork, but she’s excited for me.
And that was just the morning!