The first real tasks
By the end of week one I was much more familiar with the literature and after a meeting with Professor Benton and Armin we had decided on two tasks for me to pursue for the next ten days.
The first task required me to read through a lot of literature to pick out testable hypotheses. It did take a while to cut through the jargon but I was able to learn about some interesting ideas. The task also gave me an insight into how the field has changed. A lot of the classic literature contained many hypotheses but not much evidence to back it up. However, nowadays most of the current literature is more focused as these hypotheses can be tested with the advancement of bio mechanics, modelling etc .
The second task of listing all the skull traits that could be measured was much easier. I was given a handful of supplementary material from papers on other studies focused on skull morphology. They listed the skull traits that they measured with illustrations.
Not all computer work
I thought that this was the start of me spending long hours behind a computer with little human contact. In some ways it was but there was also a bit more variety during the week. Since I was the first student to do this internship, Professor Benton and Dr Vanessa Luk, who helped organise the internship, wanted me to blog my experiences like other students have done and give my input into how this internship could be made better in the future. We had a meeting on Wednesday where I gave some ideas on how the internship could be promoted. I thought they could make use of social media more for advertising and suggested next time they email colleagues from other universities so they could forward this opportunity to their students.
The next day I was invited by Professor Benton to have some tea and cakes at a nearby cafe where I would meet geologist Claudia Hildebrandt and some of the other interns. Unfortunately, only one other intern and Ms Hildebrandt could join us. On the bright side, it meant that we had more time to get to know each other and that’s what happened. We started off by explaining what our projects were about and weirdly somehow this led to us in the end speaking about homeopathy. Predictably, everyone there was quite hostile to it which was quite awkward for me since most of my family believe it works. Although I would not call myself a proponent of homeopathy, homeopathic medicine has always worked for me on the few occasions I’ve tried it. I mentioned this feeling that it would be dishonest of me not to and to my surprise Professor Benton apologised to me in case he had caused offence! Of course, I told him that was not necessary. Despite this, it was a nice chat that gave me a much needed rest.
By the end of the second week I had finished the tasks that were set for me. Another progress meeting was organised for the following Monday. Emotionally, I was feeling quite satisfied with the second week as I had completed the tasks set and I felt I was getting to know my supervisors better. But, it had been an exhausting week I was looking forward to a quiet weekend.