A Conversation With My Internal Self and A Preemptive FAQ 

Ok smarty-pants, what is up with that name?

Ichthyographia - An article or report written about fish; a treatise on fishes.

Wait, I still do not get it...

I am an ichthyologist; a scientist who studies fishes. It should be no big surprise, then, that I also have a passion for fishing. I have loved all things fish for over 30 years. I chose that name because I want to write about fish, fishing, and the science of fish and it only seemed appropriate. 

So, do you like have a degree or something in fish?

Indeed, I have a PhD in ichthyology (Tulane University). My dissertation focused on systematics and evolution of suckers (Catostomidae) of the genus Moxostoma, Scartomyzon, Thoburnia, and Hypentelium. Probably the most exciting part of my collegiate opus was the discovery of new species of Scartomyzon-like suckers in the highlands of Mexico.

Well, you sure talk all smart and stuff but do you actually fish?

Definitely, I have been an avid angler since my mother turned me loose on stocked trout when I was 4  years old. I was born and raised in Piedmont region of Southwest Virginia. As a child, I spent nearly all of my free time, particularity the summer months, chasing my finned quarry. I began fly fishing at about 8 years old, mostly as a means to catch small bluegill to use as bait for catfish and bass. I have caught many species of freshwater and saltwater fishes and I have fished in waters from Maine to Mexico.  

I guess you have a really cool job, huh?

Actually, no. I have not had much luck finding permanent employment in academia. I recently completed a (second) postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. My daughter was born in 2010 and so I have spent most of the last year at home caring for her while also teaching part-time at a local university.

Warning: the following is a small digression and even smaller rant. My inability to secure a position in academia is, i guess, really unfortunate and, quite frankly, hard to understand. I have worked pretty hard over the last 10 years to attain (or at least what I have been told) the appropriate "credentials" for an academic position. I have published a number of significant papers (a short list), have gained a significant amount of teaching experience, completed postdoctoral research, and have worked very hard for a number of great people who write, for me, outstanding letters of recommendations. Since 2007, I have had only a handful of interviews and no significant job offers. I will keep trying, but my patience and resolve are wearing pretty thin.

I am very lucky, however, to have a wife who has tenure track position in Biology. For now, she is also willing to support our family until the ivory doors of academia are also opened onto me.

Actually, now, yes. As of the Fall of 2011 I will be a full-time faculty member in the Natural Sciences Department at Norther Essex Community College. I am responsible for teaching introductory Biology and Ecology.

Dude, screw that shit, go do something else!

Yep, there are other job options out there, especially in the biotechnology industry, unfortunately most of the good alternatives will not touch a PhD-trained scientist (like me) with a ten foot pole (I know, I have tried). If I could do something useful, i.e., develop pharmaceuticals or make round-up ready plants, then I would be in business (I know, they told me so).

Instead, I followed my interests and decided that I would still be "employable" if spent my time learning how to: 1) identify fishes; 2) understand their evolution, behavior, and ecology. I believed, and was advised by my mentors, that there would be room for me in the ivory tower of academia. This  was, of course, as long as I published research, developed my teaching, and spent some time doing research (to publish more) after I finished my dissertation. And so, we have come full circle.

If I were you I would, like, go work for a fishing company or something like that...

Here is the real kicker...get ready for it...before I got this hair brained idea to go back to college and become an ichthyologist, I worked in the fly fishing industry. Ironically, it was my first and last steady job. I used to manage the fishing department at a local Orvis retail store. I was also a guide, fly fishing and fly tying instructor, and product tester. This occurred in the 90's pretty much at the peak of the fly fishing boom. It was good time, I probably should have stuck with it, but I can't really go back now. I have also worked part-time at other shops and I once started a blog/online fly tying/guide business at www.fish-bugs.com (now defunct).

What exactly is the point of this blog?

Before returning to college, I had delusions of writing articles and books about fly-fishing. Through my own pursuits as both an angler and ichthyologist, I believe that have developed a unique perspective on fishing. This blog is my attempt to finally fulfill this desire and to share my own angling theories and opinions. It is my hope that the information presented herein will be useful to someone and (possibly) entertaining. Since I moved to the Boston metro area recently, I also hope to chronicle some of my own fishing trips as I explore New England waters for the first time.

No comments:

Post a Comment