Achievements in 2017
Posting this one retrospectively, so that I don't have a big December gap in the blog for 2017. I did mean to post it before Xmas, but then I remembered I promised to keep a decent work/life balance, and literally did nothing work related over the Xmas holidays. I always find it hard 'doing nothing' - even though it's a job, I truly enjoy what I do and really don't mind working at weird hours if/when the inspiration strikes. In fact, I see it as one of the major benefits of the job, being able to choose when my working hours are (research related working hours anyway, teaching is of course timetabled). But this year we have just bought a house and my in laws were visiting, so I was very busy with the non-archaeology aspects of life.
Whilst I like to think I am pretty good at time management, this year has been more difficult than usual for getting things done. Nearly 3 years into my lectureship at Newcastle, my responsibilities have increased significantly and I have a lot of administrative and teaching related duties. One of the major things I have been up to is developing the lab facilities at Newcastle. Prior to my appointment in 2015, the range of archaeological science research and teaching was quite small, and I have been trying to expand our facilities to accommodate teaching and research in environmental and geoarchaeology. We have seen a lot of success with this - thanks to a number of successful University and School funding applications, we have more than doubled the amount of kit we have for archaeological science teaching, and set up a whole phytolith processing lab from scratch, thanks to the hard work of Dr Eline van Asperen.
Having filled our existing moderate lab space with people and kit, we are hoping to expand into new space in 2018, to separate some of the 'dirtier' soil related work we do. I can't wait to talk about this in more detail, as soon as all the approval processes are completed! It is a surprisingly long winded and paperwork filled process getting new space at the university, but we are almost there.
All of this has left less time for research than I have been used to, though I did manage to get a couple of short papers out on the NERC and Wellcome projects this year. But I am itching to actually get in the lab myself and get to work on the increasingly large backlog of phytolith and thin section samples that are waiting. Luckily for me, I am on research leave for the whole of the next semester!