Maureece Levin (@reecielevin) Postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Archaeology Center, joined RealScientists in the last week of May.
We were introduced by Maureece to archaeobotany, the study of plant remains preserved in archaeological sites. Much of this is done at a micro-scale, with Maureece sharing a number of cool micrographs of phytolithic matter.
Here are some phytoliths from the exterior of a banana stalk. Note the size — these were photographed at 400x mag. pic.twitter.com/zgkrA8KUXH
— realscientists (@realscientists) May 29, 2016
There was also a great discussion on the archaeological aspects of paleolithic diets and the difficulties associated with conducting research in this area.
Also, understanding diets 10,000+ years ago is hard. We are left with few traces, and differential preservation.
— realscientists (@realscientists) May 31, 2016
Maureece also raised some really interesting points about the destructive nature of archaeology, and how vital it is to conduct this research responsibly.
Archaeological work inherently involves destruction of the archaeological record, so careful excavation and recording is crucial.
— realscientists (@realscientists) June 2, 2016
At our request Maureece generously filled out our post-curation survey, with her answers below.
In general terms, how did you find your week as a curator?
Overall, I really enjoyed talking about my work with such an engaged and intelligent group of people. It was quite intense and tiring though! I certainly gained a new appreciation for people who use twitter as a truly integral part of their work.
It can be a shock talking to so many. Did you find the sudden rush of interactions (good and bad) daunting?
A bit at first, but I got used to it after a few days. Often, the notifications came faster than I could react, and there were many people to whom I unfortunately didn’t have the time and mental resources to respond appropriately (I was still in the middle of a normal work week, after all). On the other hand, I really appreciated being able to have many almost real-time back-and-forth conversations on great topics.
What were the highlights? Were there any lowlights?
I was especially happy with the results of discussing archaeological paleodiets and the origins of agriculture. I had been a little nervous about discussing paleodiets, but I think being clear about the fact that I was referring to paleolithic archaeology and evolution (as opposed to nutrition) helped a great deal. These topics led to many fruitful side discussions.
In terms of lowlights, I think this comic says it all: http://www.deathbulge.com/comics/155
Is there anything you wanted to get out of / do on the RS account that you didn’t manage to fit in?
I would have loved to have gotten a hashtag trending, but I suppose it wasn’t meant to be.
Did you have a plan? If so, did you stick to it?
I went in with a list of topics and a rough order in which I planned to address them, with the idea that twitter is necessarily spontaneous and so other ideas and discussions would inevitably arise. So yes, I stuck to my rather loose plans.
Do you have any tips or advice for future RS curators?
Many elements of the experience can be stressful, so I think prioritizing self-care (however you define it) during that week is important.
What other people or accounts should people follow if they enjoyed your tweets this week?
My personal twitter is @reecielevin. Some other suggestions (and this is not a comprehensive list) are @PalyJen, @aejolene, @danielhkwan, @JaneEvaBaxter, @michelleeusebio, @piggie1230, @archaeocore, @ArchaeologyLisa, @precatlady, @AprilMBeisaw, @trowelblazers, @Suzie_Birch
Thanks once again Maureece from all of us here at RealScientists HQ. If you missed anything from her week, the tweets are all collated at the following link.