Monkey Forest Tales: Thinking about my beginnings and why I still enjoy studying primates

Over the past weeks while giving a field course, I have found myself thinking again why I still enjoy so much studying primates. In today’s post we revisit together some of those thoughts and impression that still motivates me after 27 years from my first time in a forest looking at wild monkeys.

Teaching had a particular way of make you evaluate the good’s and bad’s of research life. Not only because is challenging to explain to others the concepts and theory behind what you do in the field but also because it can show you the things you don’t enjoy at the same time it shows you what you love.

Most of my professional and academic life had been in the field with few periods of time teaching at classrooms or more commonly in the field. Teaching in the field is what I prefer, for me it give the most rewards when you see a student develop their own research project and present their results. You saw them grow as researchers but also as persons.

However, it is when I’m alone in the forest looking for monkeys or just observing their behavior when I felt the happiest and luckiest person in the world. It is at those moments that I found my motivation to continue doing research, finding time to teach and searching for options to make my research and action more valuable for monkeys’ conservation.  

I had forgotten how many times I asked myself why I still do research with monkeys and why I go too far places to see them and study them. Maybe the answer is still the same I once told my grandmother when preparing to go to the forest for my second trip to Tinigua National Park, because I love them and want to spend my life helping them to survive.

Sometimes that last part of help them to survive seems too far, however it is the example of others smarter and more successful than me that give me the energy to continue. But most importantly are all those small moments I share with wild primates what give me the motivation to continue. It is on those quiet moments where it seems that they completely accept me in their groups that I found the strength to continue with the life I choose…

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Monkey Forest Tales: Some reflections about rejection and failure

In today’s post we are going to talk about some reflections about rejection and failure. Academia is full of rejection, it is common that your paper, grant, or fellowship is rejected than accepted. This means you need to be able to process failure in a way that you convert that “failure” in an opportunity to improve and growth instead of feed feelings of worthless or increase your impostor syndrome. The best way to see any rejection is as an opportunity.
Also, rejections may make you wonder if what you are doing is the right thing to do. If it is really your life path. If you are passionate about what you do, the answer is yes, it is your life path. Life is not always easy, but if you love what you do, then be persistent, most of the best things in life take time to get them.
But, how to overcome that feeling you have after a rejection…I found that sometimes you need to take time off after your initial read to process any comments you get back. Then, read critically any comment reviewers give you about your paper, think carefully if the reviewer’s comment makes a point you overlook in your paper or if they pointed a piece of evidence, you didn’t think it was relevant before.
When it is a grant or fellowship, remember competition in science is high, but that doesn’t mean you are a bad researcher. It just means, you need to try again. Some grants give you feedback, take advantage of those comments and use those comments to improve your next application.
Rejections and failures are always opportunities for you to be better, to reflect about your decisions and to improve and look at a problem from different angles. Next application always will be better
© Copyright Disclaimer. All pictures used on this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message on the website. Thank you.