The Last Refuge

The Last Refuge - Original Art by Glendon Mellow
The Last Refuge - Original Art by Glendon Mellow

UPDATE: Glendon is now offering this beautiful piece of deep-sea art as prints on his website! Products range from cards to full size poster prints and are quite affordably priced!

Earlier this year I approached Glendon Mellow who writes the Flying Trilobite blog, a fabulous artist and all around good guy, because I wanted to do something for my current boss before I left my job. She is a famous deep-sea biologist and has been an excellent boss and mentor to me my 2 years at Duke Marine Lab. She has a fascination with trilobites, has been a forerunner of hydrothermal vent biology, and was the first female pilot submersible. She is also an art enthusiast and very adamant about using art to convey the environment of the deep sea. I told Glendon that I wanted to incorporate trilobites at vents and somehow have Alvin in the background. I was amazed at what he put together!! It is an oil on canvas. I am sure Glendon will put together a more thorough post on how he created the painting, which I will link to.

I will be leaving the Marine Lab in August to travel down the coast a couple hours to UNC Wilmington, where I will start a PhD program in Marine Biology in the McCartney Lab. I will be studying mussel population genetics in the face of the physical oceanography of the Gulf of Maine and hope to work on how a hybrid zone between two Mytilus species is maintained.

I’ve worked in hydrothermal vent and deep sea biology for nearly 8 years now, with a masters degree and 5 publications on the subject, more in review and many more on the way. I’m not leaving deep-sea biology but temporarily resurfacing while I fine tune some population genetics skills. I hope the analytical tools gained will make me a better deep sea biologist, in addition to a better marine ecologist.

Why am I returning to grad school? Mostly, I want to teach at the collegiate level and will seek out opportunities at 4 year and masters-level institutions. But, I love doing systematics and population genetics research. My prior work was all in taxonomy and ecology. I discovered through my masters that while I was well-trained in community ecology, I just wasn’t very into it. I’ve learned in the last two years though that the missing component to answer the questions I was really interested in was genetics. My masters advisor tried telling me this, but I was too stubborn to listen.

Now that I have an expertise in sequencing and microsatellite development and analysis, my confidence level has risen tremendously and feel much more comfortable to carry out PhD level research. I’ve also learned that I like more applied type of research, I like to see my results contribute to real-world issues rather than making a contribution to theory per se. This is not to say I think one is better than the other, just doing more applied research makes me feel better about myself. I hope to also seek out post-PhD opportunities in government labs, in addition to academic settings with an emphasis on teaching.

I know that this was very much appreciated and enjoyed by my boss, who displays it in her home. For myself, the next 3-4 years will indeed be my last refuge before I once again thrust out into the real world.

11 Replies to “The Last Refuge”

  1. Wow! Just wow!

    That is an amazing artwork! The vent/smoke is stunning!

    More exclamation marks!!

    And congrats on your decision to go for the PhD, Kevin. It seems like you’ve already done enough to deserve one. You’ve certainly accomplished more than many PhDs I know.

  2. Glendon never ceases to amaze me with his imagination and his vision. That was a great present for your boss.

    And I echo the “Good on ya” for pursuing your doctorate. Genetics are my favorite, too. Genetics and sea jellies, that is.

  3. Thanks for the compliments, everyone. And congratulations on returning to school, Kevin!

    Prints should be available by tomorrow. I’ll post the link here and over at my digs.

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