USGS, Gainesville FL

USGS Gainesville
I’m currently off campus for seven weeks, making a few visits through the United States and then taking some leave. Stop number 1 is USGS in Gainesville FL to visit Fred Johnson and Mathieu Bonneau.

I first met Fred a little over 10 years ago, when I was a PhD student working on optimal harvest strategies for wildlife. Since the 1990s Fred has contributed to the enormous and enormously successful waterfowl adaptive harvest management program, and we even got to write a paper together about Canada Goose management.

Mathieu Bonneau has only just left the University of Melbourne himself, where he’s been pitching in with optimal resource allocations for hawkweed monitoring. Now he’s working with Fred on other optimal invasion management problems and taking an interest in dynamic reserve selection too.

It was fun to see where Fred and Mathieu are based, to make a little progress on Mathieu’s and my ongoing hawkweed collaboration, and to toss around some other project ideas. They also had me present a seminar on my research, which was broadcast online and available for USGS employees to access all over the country. It seems that staff are engaging with this system as I received two messages from remote researchers about my presentation later that same afternoon.

Florida
Over the weekend I had a chance to explore the area a little more. The University of Florida has an impressive Museum of Natural History, which includes a butterfly house and conservation/research program. I was amused to see the research labs themselves set up as exhibits – even on a Saturday there was a (probable) grad student at the microscope demonstrating science in (slow, laborious) action.

The neighbouring Harn Museum of Art was a comparatively spacious and peaceful venue. The current exhibition of Florida swamp and wetland photographs by Karen Glaser really gave me a sense of place.

On Sunday I nervously took to the water myself, by kayak. Mathieu is an experienced watersportsman and led me on a glorious glide along the Sante Fe river, where turtles sun themselves on logs, woodpecking rings out from the forest and the locals drift down the river on inflatable chairs, beer in hand.

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