Everyone I’ve told about my new position assisting the digitization of the Frost Entomological Museum has fallen into two categories: those who think it’s awesome, and those who feel their stomach stir and skin cringe before politely saying, “well I’m happy for you.”
It’s very exciting returning to an academic environment with opportunities for collaboration and discussion with people of the former. However, perhaps even more thrilling is the chance to engage with the latter. A desire to communicate with those who haven’t had much exposure to science is one of the reasons I sought a position with the Frost. This is my first post and it is my goal for my future writing on this blog to promote how amazing insects are and why when one visits your home you should reach for a cup instead of rolling up last week’s copy of Entertainment Weekly.
So how did I get here?
Well, firstly, my name is Tanner Hallenstein–nice to meet you. I’m originally from Woodstock, IL. Woodstock’s claim to fame is that the movie Groundhog Day was filmed. No, the film did not have any sway in my decision to move to Pennsylvania. I then moved to Iowa City where I attended the University of Iowa, originally as an English and Theatre major. After my first year I re-realized my childhood passion for nature and switched to Environmental Science and Biology. For my last two years I worked for the Biology department in Andrew Forbes’ lab working on parasitoid wasps and fruit flies, (predominantly Rhagoletis suavis), under the graduate student and fantastic mentor Amanda Nelson. There I cultivated a love and appreciation for research, as wells as Microsoft Excel. As much as that sounds like a joke, I really do have a small fan-girlish crush on Microsoft Excel and my lab work is to blame.
After I graduated, my plan was to find some kind of field work to get involved in. But, like most millennial recent-graduates learn, those plans last about as long as the lifespan of a Drosophila melanogaster. That’s about the length of time to takes before the online application process and dwindling bank account makes someone who’s moved back home take any job in or out of their field. (This has yet to be tested but I’m sure there’s a study in there somewhere.) After some time of not-fieldwork-work, I moved to Pennsylvania and was lucky enough to find myself working for the museum. Everyone has been welcoming, making the last few weeks fantastic. I even get to use Google Sheets. Sure, it’s not technically Microsoft Excel, but hey.