I have had a wonderful final semester with the Center for Biology and Society this spring. I was able to focus on finishing my doctoral research thanks to the support of a SOLS completion fellowship. I was also awarded the first annual SOLS JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Award for my service work, and I won the Heard Museum’s Eagle Spirit Award for my academic work and dedication to American Indian communities. Finally, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation in April.
Working remotely over the last year has been difficult. I miss having an office and desk in a place other than where I live. However, one of the perks of working remotely was that my family and friends were able to attend my dissertation defense on Zoom. With a title like “The Meaning of Meaning in Insect Navigation Research”, I knew the topic of my dissertation was somewhat mysterious to my family. I like to think watching my defense helped them gain some clarity on what my research actually is about. Of course, I was nervous about defending, but once the ritual was underway, I enjoyed fielding some of the best questions I have ever received about my work. My committee also gave me the much-appreciated compliment of “no revisions” on my dissertation.
Looking forward, I am excited to continue my work integrating historical and philosophical approaches to studying science at the University of Kentucky as a Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral fellow. My next research project is titled “Humans, Animals, and Machines: Behavior in the Information Age.” I will be examining how the post-World War Two “information revolution” in the sciences affected American and European traditions of animal behavior research. I’m especially excited to pursue this project as a Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellow because the program has led me to mentors like philosopher of science Julia Bursten and theoretical biologist Jeremy Van Cleve whose work reflects the practice-based, interdisciplinary approach to science studies I aim to pursue.
More immediately, I plan on hiking around public lands in the American southwest and finishing a paper about the history of controversy surrounding the cognitive map hypothesis in animal navigation studies.