A Week in the Life – Nathan Alexander

Nathan is a 3rd year PhD student from NRES, working in the Schooley Lab while collaborating with a cross-country landscape genetics group. His research focuses on landscape genetics, species distribution modeling, and population genetics. Currently he is working on a historic-to-present species distribution model and population genetics of the Illinois plains pocket gopher. Nathan works predominantly with small mammals.

What I’ve been up to this past week:

This past week has been a bit of a whirlwind. Last week I was out in Havana, IL having most of my live-trapping foiled by the very gophers I’m seeking. We finally got one gopher that had been consistently plugging our traps and collected a genetic sample. He was the first gopher we caught that had a particularly cinnamon-color, whereas some of our gophers near there have been darker with some white spots, and the ones in Kankakee, IL have been grey/black. Due to needing to return the work vehicle, I’ve spent this week in the office and working from home, running preliminary analyses on genetic samples of gophers I collected from the Illinois Natural History Survey museum and adapting my distribution code (huzzah for office work, am I right?). Other than that, I’ve been busy filing quarter 4 grant updates and planning PrideFest 2019 with the UP Center of Champaign County.

A gopher being released.

Are you a member of other student organizations?

While not student organizations, I do serve as Vice President of the UP Center of Champaign County, and on the LGBTRC Advisory Committee. During my Masters, I had students ask if they had to switch majors because they were LGBTQ+, and I think that it’s important to not only provide visibility, but resources for under-served communities locally.

How do you unwind after a long day of work?

I spend most of my free time doing volunteer work for the UP Center, but I do enjoy knitting, which I suppose is ironic for unwinding. I’m currently working on a baby blanket for my old advisor emblazoned with a rainbow kangaroo rat (There’s not enough kangaroo rat blankets in the world). I tend to mostly do scarves because they are quick, simple, and allows for intricate patterns. I find that it’s a good way of feeling productive while forcing yourself to relax and take some time off.

Any upcoming events you want to mention?

PrideFest 2019 on Sept 28! The UP Center is partnering with many local organizations to celebrate our local community. There will be drag shows, a parade, education panels, the works! We’ve even partnered with Champaign Outdoors to do a Pride Hike at Busey Woods in Crystal Lake park for those who prefer to be outdoors. Pride information is will all be available on the UP Center Facebook and www.unitingpride.org.

A View of my Week:

Tasting the Illinois Natural History Museum’s Rye Whiskey at Quality in Champaign. After filing lots of paperwork and a long field week, its nice to treat yourself once in a while.