Reflections on 2020

This year, I wrote fewer blog posts while also reaching more people than in any of the last six years. Most views came from the US, UK, or India. My top blog post was “A Lifeless Terrarium” – really, the one where I took pictures of some dirt in a tank and complained about how none of my plants were growing. There was less interaction than last year, so there is still room to improve! But for now I will celebrate the good things that happened this past year for the blog.

What I Wrote

I started participating in Wetland Wednesday and shared my photos of Wisconsin wetlands and wetland creatures. I wrote a post that acted as a window into my life as an African American woman pursuing a PhD in a STEM field in the United States and shared relevant statistics. I learned about my own chances for success in the academic pipeline in “Sexism in the Academy” by Troy Vettese. *edit: this article actually came out in 2019 but COVID has made time kind of melt together for me*. I attempted to start a podcast called Swamped but crashed and burned from the countless hours of reading, writing, speaking, and editing that were required. I gave free advice on How to Win the NSF GRFP after securing the award in April.

What I Read

Photo by cottonbro on

I read “Out There, Nobody Can Hear You Scream” by Latria Graham and loved it. I learned about the struggles of a black woman who once needed medical attention in Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom and how death can be the ultimate price of having black skin – for not just black people but also their unborn babies. I created a list of Good Books with suggested reads covering a range of environmental and other related topics.

What I Did

I defended my Master’s thesis towards the beginning of the year, then began my PhD journey. I took a workshop on how to build a stream sensor but was unable to deploy it due to the approaching winter season. I had my very first 4.0 semester since going to college and finished the required number of credits for my PhD. I watched too much TV. I dreamt of a better future.

What’s Next

If you are reading this it means we made it to 2021. Congratulations! There is nowhere to go now but up. Obviously this year was extremely difficult on everyone. This post is meant to showcase the accomplishments made for the blog in spite of everything going on in our real lives and the world. I think there is some beauty to the fact that humanity has gone through this terrible year together, however painful and revealing of our political, socioeconomic, and environmental problems that it was. Typically at the year’s end one person had a great year, another had a terrible year, and everyone takes away different lessons. But this year is different. We are all living the same reality to some extent. We are all learning similar things because of this experience.

My aims for the blog in 2021 are to take more photos of my terrarium, continue adding to the Good Books list, and potentially resurrect the podcast. I also want to share more about my PhD journey as I begin my independent research project and fulfill the requirements for the PhD minor. Finally, I hope to connect more with the readers and writers who inspire me in 2021. What was one thing about 2020 that you were grateful for? What are your goals for the new year?

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