Robin N. Andrews
The Best Strategy for Floodplain Microarthropod Success may be No Sex on the Beach
The written word is a gateway to knowledge. By reading, we know the world in new ways and can experience another’s perspective. As an unofficial librarian and a scientist at the University of Alaska, I find the work of the best writers, scholars, artists, and educators and I create and communicate knowledge to help learners understand our complex world. I joined ITOC to become a more skillful communicator and to exercise and nourish my usually dormant creative side.
Scientists often have access to worlds that most people can’t easily experience. Some travel to the remotest areas on earth or even into space, and others have the tools (or toys?) to know a world beyond the human senses. I provide a glimpse into boreal forest soil and its microscopic animal inhabitants. I explain why they are so important to the function of boreal forests and how global warming and invasive species threaten these processes. “Ed’s” story (“The Best Strategy for Microarthropod Success May Be No Sex on the Beach”) is a tale of scientific theory and discovery. It’s also an ecological and evolutionary allegory about gender, resilience, competition, and cooperation. It’s an example of how all scientists and scholars “stand on the shoulders of giants.”
My narrative is wrapped in the sometimes wondrous but often painful grad student experience. Graduate school is humbling. You often have to confront your inadequacies and ignorance. Like our changing world, some grad students may need to find a hopefully positive, alternative stable state. But as a person with dyslexia and a human being, I hope we can work cooperatively to overcome our imperfections and make room for many diverse perspectives in college and science. Any typos or grammar problems are strictly faults of my own.
Dr. Roy Norton has been invaluable in helping me make it this far . He shared his funny perspectives on oribatid mite sexuality, which inspired my story. The Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research program faculty, staff, and funding make my research possible. Carolyn Kremers and Daryl Farmer provided a bit of expertise, assistance, and encouragement. My sister Terry Andrews, a UMass biology BS holder, made insightful comments and gave me a bit of editorial help. Finally, my dad did his best to provision, protect, and often parent me.
Robin N. Andrews is, at the time of this writing, a biology PhD student studying soil microarthropods. Born in the lush temperate rainforests of New England, she sometimes still hungers for huge trees. She came to Alaska to complete a BS in Wildlife Management and an MS in Natural Resource Management on soils. A lifetime learner and avid reader, she loves to learn new things about how the natural world works. Robin has a bit of dyslexia and a love/hate relationship with writing but fortunately attended excellent schools where early intervention was available. She enjoys hikes with her dog Odo.