So we’ve already introduced the two tenure staff of the group: Elsa, wise and warm and Gloria, who is akin the Captain’s second (running everything while letting the Captain believe that he is in charge). Which is cool, as I then get to be the Captain. Sweet. So I’m Kirk, Elsa is Dr McCoy and Gloria is Spock. I like that.

Then, who are Sulu, Uhura, Chekov and Scott? Well, perhaps the analogy should stop being too specific. After the permanent staff are a number of brilliant people who don’t yet have a permanent position, but without whom the ship couldn’t sail (I said stop the analogy!).

Céline Bellard, senior among them in the lab, is now a postdoc and has been with me since her first year of Master. Five years later, she is juggling with awesome projects and has behind her an amazing PhD thesis, with 11 published papers, and two very prestigious prizes (UNECSO-L’Oréal “Women in Science” 2012 and the French Academy of Science “Great Scientific Advances” 2014). With very ambitious ideas that always make me jealous (almost) that I didn’t get them myself, an efficiency bordering on scary (remember to do this? – done already – uh, and this? – done, and that too. Never been able to catch her unprepared even once) and an altruism with other lab members that helps me constantly running the ship- hum lab. She also is very good as sensing my moods, especially my occasional downs, and showing me discreetly that she cares has always been enough to raise my spirits back to their normal high-optimistic.

Very nicely completing the team are remarkable Camille Leclerc, who can do about anything with her computer, except waffles, which is a pity, and who pretty much lacks only one thing: realising how good she is. Boris Leroy just joined us as a postdoc and looks to be a very fitting recruit, full of ideas and skills. He has the same flaws than me: he talks a lot, eats slowly and has way too many ideas to be reasonably handled in a single day. I have other flaws as well, but nobody suspects that yet. I still have to see how – and what – he drinks. Boris has to be Ldt Uhura, because she was very pretty.

The description of the crew wouldn’t be fully accurate without including Cleo Bertelsmeier, although she just left us this month. She is now crewing another ship, after four years of loyal services, during which she produced a master, a PhD and 17 manuscripts, most of which are published or close to being. Yes, you read well, no typo there. She also is a workaholic, redoubtably efficient, loves challenges and bets, and sets herself objectives that only her, or a Vulcan, can achieve. She constantly has ideas, about her models, lab experiments, field work, and her enthusiasm and negotiation skills make it difficult to resist saying yes to every new project. Luckily enough, she hasn’t yet found out the way to clone herself, or she would run the world by now.

Now I should shorten, blog entries are supposed to be short, you’ve told me already. So I won’t talk about Alok Bang, sweet and intelligent who just went back to India after one year with us, or our unique Lucille Palazy, who finished her PhD last year, Stephen Gregory one year before her, Yuya Watary before him etc… Too bad: they were all really great and are all missed. Also, we’ve had a very large number of Red Shirts (the interns) over the years here, and I keep a very fond memory of all of them (even if I like to pretend that I don’t remember people).

All these have been key not only to the success of the Biodiversity Dynamics group, but also to my constant pleasure of doing research. Thanks to them, I like Mondays a bit better, I’ve started drinking coffee and I love going to congresses.

Captain log, supplemental. No, nothing to add, I just wanted to say that. Feels good, really.


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