A spring of farewells

The past few weeks have been very busy and emotionally charged for us here at the collection.  The dust had not even settled after the 2016 Museum Open House, held on April 23, and Gisele de Souza da Silva was leaving.

Gisele Silva Nov 2014 Huayan&Gisele2015

Gisele during her brief visit in November 2014 (left) and with Huayan Chen, during a visit to the Hocking Hills in September 2015 (right)

A visiting scholar from Brazil, Gisele spent 10 months working in Norman Johnson’s lab. So much was going on during those final two weeks she was here (I was waist-deep in the organization of the Open House and Gisele was working such long hours to get all her analyses completed), that we did not find time to have a proper farewell party for her. We became friends and lunch buddies. She, I and Huayan Chen, a grad student in Norman’s lab, used to have a ‘bate-papo’ (Brazilian Portuguese for chitchat) every Friday at 1PM. Orlando Combita-Heredia, a Colombian grad student working in the Acarology Lab, joined us frequently. Fun times. Great conversation. Gisele is back in Porto Alegre, at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (URGS), and should be defending her PhD thesis in a few months. Good luck with the thesis, Gisele! We miss you!

Matt Elder December 2011

Matt Elder 2015

Matt in December 2011, right after he started working in the collection (left), and in 2015 (right). Unfortunately we don’t have a complete photographic record of all his many striking t-shirts.

A week later it was time to say farewell to Matt Elder, and although we knew this was coming, we were not prepared for it. I’ll just say this: there were many tears. Matt was one of our best undergrad curatorial assistants ever. Talented, level-headed, dedicated and eager to learn. Over the 5 years that Matt worked with us he became so much more than an assistant, he became a trusted colleague and a very dear friend. He was a freshman at Ohio State when he was hired and other than an 8 month hiatus for an internship, he was in the collection almost daily, working side-by-side with us. We saw him grow and mature, and we all are so much better for it. One side of me is excited and happy for all he has achieved. He graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering and starts on his new job at the end of May. Another side of me is sad, cranky and upset. Matt’s such a smart work buddy and great conversation! It’s very hard to see him leave. But he says he’ll keep in touch. So far I have never had a reason to doubt him and see no reason to start now. Good luck with the job, Matt! Talk to you soon!

As I write this Matt and two of his friends are half-way into their version of the great American road trip. You can follow their adventure on Twitter.

Back at the collection, some of our undergrad curatorial assistants will be working with us during the summer while others will be going on internships or simply taking some well-deserved time off. And as there will be more graduations soon, we’re trying to hire new people. Last week we spent many hours interviewing undergraduate students and we’re now in the process of hiring some of them.

Training temporary personnel is costly and time-consuming, not to mention emotionally demanding. But with a little bit of luck and a lot of dedication on our part and on the part of the students, we all come out of the experience winning. Hopefully some of the new hires will continue with us during the 2016-2017 regular academic year and, who knows, maybe follow Matt’s still very fresh footprints in the collection.

PS. Captions in (sort of) purple, Gisele’s favorite color.


About the Author: Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist and currently the Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection.

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