Busy times now before Christmas (as usual, and yep, it’s already ‘the time before Christmas’!). Exams to be prepared (or read for). Some New Year’s resolutions must be ticked off before it’s too late (possibly turning the tables in the New Year). The national evaluation of the biological sciences is underway and study program evaluation must be carried out (for real; someone should calculate how many day’s of work goes into various evaluations; de-bureaucratisation and efficiency reform, my a…). The bachelor’s degree at BIO is to be redesigned (in time before a new reform is planned). A couple of manuscripts must be submitted so that you don’t have to think about them at Christmas (others must have had the same thought, so there were a few extra manuscripts to read as an editor or reviewer at Christmas). Staff interviews must be carried out (oh, it’s probably a bit behind schedule there, but I did that strictly last year too, so there will be a year between anyway). The roof and walls have to be washed and seven types of cake baked (it won’t hurt if it’s not done this year [again…], and it must be allowed to buy the doughnuts, at least, and maybe the Berlin wreaths and gingerbread houses…). Disputations must be attended (good luck, Ragnhild!). Remaining holiday days must be used (it might be possible to hire someone to take care of all the remaining holiday days at BIO!). Leaders for the Newsletter must be written (it became a kind of leader, after all). In addition to this, everyday life goes on as normal. Some of the stress now before Christmas is probably self-inflicted, and has its roots in the fact that we want blank sheets of paper and freshly sharpened crayons when the new year arrives. But maybe we should just think that it’s perfectly fine to take a few half-filled sheets with us to the other side of the imaginary line that marks a new year.
The pre-Christmas season is not all stress, a lot of pleasant things happen too. The last man on board the ship (I didn’t mention sinking…) in our group, Pete Manning, has just published an article in Nature Ecology and Evolution (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-022-01918-5 ). The article considers how biodiversity contributes to various aspects of ecosystem services, from carbon storage to the birdwatcher’s adrenaline rush when a rare species is discovered. Pete also recently had an article in Science (https://www.science.org/doi/full/10.1126/science.abp9554) and it is rumored that there are several similar articles ready for press. Congratulations to Pete, and welcome to BIO. Must also mention that Vigdis Vandvik has been given a new and important position as a member of the Ethics Council for the Oil Fund (or Statens Pensjonsfond abroad, which is the correct name). It is a very good thing that the Oil Fund is bringing in a biologist who can speak for the environment in the ethical assessments, and it is difficult to think of anyone better suited than Vigdis! (Vigdis has also been active in publishing and this one that came out recently must also be mentioned: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169534722002749?via%3Dihub). I would also like to mention that last week Aud Halbritter and Richard Telford organized a seminar on Open Science at Finse, together with, among others, GBIF. Many participants from both UiB and other institutions at a seminar on a topic that will clearly become more important in the future. Thanks to Aud and Richard for their efforts. And speaking of blank sheets and such, we can also look forward to several new colleagues in our faggruppe just over the New Year as a result of success on the grant application front earlier this year.
Just a final thought: It may feel like a long time since the corona, but this is actually the first whole semester without restrictions. Or, normal and normal. The corona era led to lots of creative solutions for teaching, and I have the feeling that many have preserved this creativity and used the opportunity to make new moves in teaching. A lot of exciting things are happening in the various courses I know from our faggruppe, and probably also at BIO in general. bioCEED should probably take much of the credit for this, but I imagine that we also got an extra kick in the rear from the restrictions imposed on us by the pandemic. In addition, we should of course give ourselves a good pat on the back (as I’m sure a head of department here would say) for the effort that each one of us puts in to make the teaching even a little better.
On that tap on the shoulder I wish you all a quiet weekend!
head of Faggruppe økologi og evolusjon