Welcome back to another exciting installment of Michelle and Alexis doing stuff! Reading our blog may make it seem like we are field research super cyborgs sent to Earth to save the Blanding’s turtles, but in reality we are human and do things outside of the swamp and the lab. This week we’d like to give you a glimpse into the aspects of fieldwork when we are not actually in the field.

The two of us share a double room at a local long stay hotel, as well as share a car to get to our field sites. This means that we spend just about every second of every day together and still manage to really enjoy one another’s company. (That or Alexis has gone deaf and just doesn’t hear Michelle’s nonstop chatter.) We like to joke that between the two of us we share one brain. Which means that when one of us makes a mistake, it isn’t really our fault because it just means the other one had the brain in that moment. We believe that building a good team means playing on each other’s strengths and helping out with weaknesses. For example, Alexis does not have a sense of smell. Therefore, when we were concerned our milk was close to spoiling, Michelle was given the task of smelling the milk every morning before Alexis used it in her cereal. It’s all about knowing when to utilize your powers for good.


(disclaimer: this photo was taken at a red light)

Our average day starts when Michelle wakes up at 6am to make breakfast, get dressed, read the news, pack lunch etc. and is still somehow always running a few minutes late. Alexis rolls out of bed ten minutes before we need to leave and simply transforms into a functioning human. It is quite like watching a triple speed time lapse of a caterpillar emerging from its coccoon and becoming a butterfly. On the way to the shop where we meet the team we always stop at a Dunkin for Alexis’s mandatory caffeine dose. At this point in the summer the barista at the drive thru not only knows us, but consistently jokes around with us as we grab our orders. His most recent bit involved pretending to drop the coffee as he handed it to Michelle, causing her to panic at much too early an hour in the morning. Then we head for – you loyal up to date readers know – fieldwork.

The two of us are perpetual snackers during the day but we each have our go-to’s when it comes to packing for the field. Michell’s favorite patented fieldwork fuel is a banana with peanut butter and teddy grams wrapped in a tortilla. Alexis tends to mix up the food, but always has her stash of drinks at the ready (water, Coke Zero, Polar seltzer water, and protein shake). In the evenings, we often like to spend even more time outside. Alexis will often go for long walks while Michelle, who has the energy of an 8 year old, will go run a few miles. When it comes to sleep schedules Michelle usually passes out by 10pm. Alexis, on the other hand, is not one for sleeping and enjoys the night because she gets to use the brain all by herself.

The weekends are our time off when we recharge and try to let our sore muscles recover from the week. We do things like talk about starting a puzzle, treating ourselves to an outdoor social distancing dinner, and forgetting about that puzzle we wanted to do. We also do some work that we don’t have time for during the week like research further into our project topics, getting some preliminary writing done, and cleaning the car we use to get to the shop. Some weekends we have even gone back down to Champaign to restock supplies or bring down samples that need to be analyzed sooner rather than later. Many a Saturday you’ll find us in our cozy hotel room sorting data, laying around, and talking about maybe one day starting that puzzle together.

As you can see we are clearly people as well as field researchers, and believe it or not, they are one and the same.