Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My 2008 Highlights

Time for a brief vanity post as this year has been reasonably good for me. Here are my ten highlights in roughly chronological order:

1) The Boss and E Street at Old Trafford
This was my first stadium gig and my first trip to the 'Theatre of Dreams'.

2) Fantasy Football
After a couple of years of dismal perfomances I finally won my fantasy football league thanks in large part to signing Ronaldo at just the right time and making him captian.

3) Radiohead at Malahide Castle
My first ever Radiohead gig and an enjoyable weekend spent in the area just North of Dublin.

4) Three peaks
I finally climbed Ben Nevis as well as return trips up Snowdon and Scafell all in one weekend.

5) Media-whoring
(My degoratory term for the courting of radio, newspaper and TV by scientists). I must confess that my earlier scoffing at such things was tempered somewhat by my own experience. I enjoyed being interviewed although some of the resulting articles had the typical ring of inaccuracy and the "quotes" assigned to me were hilarious - apparently I have predicted that we will eventually find the Triassic was when dinosaurs were most diverse.

6) My first Science/Nature paper
Almost by accident a study conducted by Steve Brusatte that I had helped out on with some of the numerical analyses was ready to go at a time when Science were publishing a number of Triassic archosaur papers. I suggested we at least give them a try and lo and behold the best reviews and quickest acceptance that I am ever likely to experience occurred. Quite rightly most of the credit goes to Steve, but this was (and is) a fantastic addition to my CV - thanks Steve!

7) My first lead-authored paper
The media-whoring mentioned earlier accompanied the online publication of my first lead-authored paper, although technically it didn't appear in proper print until November.

8) My first post-doctoral position
Just as I was finishing up my PhD a job was advertised at the NHM that well suited my rather odd set of skills (being a paleontologist who doesn't look at fossils) and I was lucky enough to get an interview and an offer. This means 2009 will see me move to London's fantastic Natural History Museum.

9) PhD
Exactly six days after being offered the job came my dreaded PhD viva. I can't say it was an enjoyable experience, but it was one I survived with only minor corrections.

10) Newcastle United 1 Liverpool 5
As she did last season, my Mum managed to get tickets at St James Park for the visit of my beloved Liverpool. Sitting with the home fans meant I had to keep quiet as we romped to our most convicing victory of the season as we close out the year top of the Premier league. Now let's have no mention of this...

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About Me

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Currently I am founding member, president elect and entire membership of SWEMP (the Society of Wonky-Eyed Macroevolutionary Palaeobiologists). In my spare time I get paid to do research on very dead organisms and think about the really big questions in life, such as: What is the ultimate nature of reality? Why is there no room for free will in science? and What are the implications of having a wardrobe that consists entirely of hotpants?