Thursday, 31 July 2008

Lisa's Last Look

A back-dated post this time. I was away canoeing and swimming around the time this duck count was made, but it marks the last day at NOCS for Lisa, my officemate and fellow duck-counter.

Lisa came to Southampton with my current boss, Andreas, and completed her doctorate here on the planktonic iron cycle. While one can always read up on a subject from the literature, nothing beats getting a primer directly from someone who's worked on it, and Lisa was my iron contact. She developed a model for this elemental cycle that incorporated several key (if arcane) pools that interacted with (or snubbed) the normal biological components of plankton ecosystem models (AKA my bread and butter). Among other things, this model even included extremely short time-scale events such as photochemical effects. Lisa's good humoured antipathy towards the known unknowns of the iron cycle was a refreshing and wholly credible antidote to the proliferating array of confident (read "arrogant") iron cycle models clogging up the literature. While we're still quite ignorant about iron, we know enough to know that it's not a simple thing to bolt on to existing elemental cycle models. Or, rather, we should know enough - although there still appears to be plenty of researchers who'll ignore this to chase their favoured gravy train. Anyway, though I'd loosely known Lisa since her arrival at NOCS, sharing an office with her (or anyone for that matter - I'd been solo for 9 years) was something of an unknown quantity. As it turns out, we got on really well together, no doubt helped by our common interest in the engaging (not to mention tragic) antics of our quad's duck contingent. Already the office seems somewhat uncomfortably quiet. While Lisa's currently seeking work beyond the low-pay-no-future world of science research, a return to NOCS, albeit in a completely different role, is not out of the question.

Oh, for reference, all ducks present and correct.

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