|Larson cartoon - always reminds me of herping fieldwork!|
One year later, I found myself 3000km from home starting a PhD on Drosophila. I admit I may have been lured into the project under the promise of working on dung beetles (seriously, dung beetles are awesome!), and yet I still spent 4 years alternately caring for, and then committing genocide on, 100's of 1000's of flies. My family and friends outside the lab could not honestly believe that I was paid to spend my weekends tending to countless populations and species of flies. On top of that, I was prone to using explicit fly terminology at seemingly inappropriate times (FYI, "pooting" and "sexing" flies is definitely not as exciting as it may sound). Some of my most important collaborations and scientific papers have come from this work so these little flies are nothing to sneeze at. Except, or course, if you develop an allergy to them, which does indeed happen along the way. I was fortunate not to become allergic to the flies themselves, but rather the food we used to maintain them.
(via Wikimedia Commons)
For the last almost 2 years I have been back working on flies, only this time on Ceratitis species, a pest fruit fly of the South African and international fruit and veg market. It has a kind of nice symmetry to be back working on flies, although I did skip a group along the way. Hopefully the lizards will make a comeback at a some stage. I suppose the moral of the story is to follow what interests you and don't get hung up on the "where" and "what". Life is much more interesting that way! More on my current work in the next update.