Balancing Act

Bio Control AcrobaticsEarlier this evening I spent two hours with four dainty but very picky female parasitoids (Meteorus ictericus– shoutout!). Normally my olfactometer experiments only take 1 hour for 3 females, but there was one very particular lady who just wouldn’t make a decision! She obviously did not go for her morning run! —-Silently I yelled at her- “Don’t you know that I have places to go? People to see? And Cookies to Eat (at a holiday party)?!- Good thing I swam earlier today or you would be toast!”

Unfortunately, I doubt threats work on insects. Instead, I patiently waited, and then substituted a more promising young lady into the y-tube and waited for her decision between a damaged and undamaged plant.

Meteorus ictericus (photo: Linda Buergi)

I wonder how many other people out there spend hours/days/ or years waiting on the whims of an insect or an animal.


You find yourself telling your friends – “Sorry I missed dinner- my females just weren’t having any from the males…. Or “Sorry I missed your Birthday- I’m down to the last female in my colony so I had to wait and see if she would mate with her son”.

 With all the time you spend on these experiments- you hope that something great will come out of it. Whether it be a publication, a nod from your adviser, a post-doctoral offer, Nobel Prize, or an applied impact (one that changes the world of course!)

 For me the hardest part about the scientific process- is the DOUBT.  DOUBT is worse than any four-letter word. It is the most insulting thing to the human ego besides failure. The doubt that creeps up from your stomach to the back of your neck, infesting your every thought. The doubt that says ‘What if I am doing this wrong? What if this doesn’t work?  What if I don’t get more money? What if I’m wasting my time?- What if I’m not worthy! (that last one is the worst)”

 Of course any scientist’s rebuttal to this would be “Well if you researched it enough before starting, then you shouldn’t have doubt”. Yea -right.

So instead, everyday to gain a bit of satisfaction- I dedicate time to the physical arts. Whether it is learning a new flip, catching a wave, working on my six-pack (okay… it’s a 4) being the first woman to win Ninja Warrior (working on that still) or doing a 2.5 star drop on an aerial silk. I think it is the same satisfaction people get from cleaning their house, learning martial arts, baking, doing laundry or just having a dog stare at them with eyes that say: “you are the best”. Either way- you have that product at the end of the day- that you can be proud of.

Often people get so involved with their work- they forget to take care of themselves. What they don’t realize is that you need to make your health and soul the # 1 thing in your life.  If you do this, I have firm confidence that you will be happier, more productive and definitely have a better chance of passing on your genes

Photo by:

Light Brown Apple Moth- Star Species

So while I plan out my new physiology methods tomorrow on how to most efficiently quantify the proteins, lipids and carbohydrates in parasitized and non-parasitized hosts (Light Brown Apple Moth Shout Out!) – I will also be getting ready for my first debut Aerial Silks Show!! As much as I can talk in front of people (sometimes too much)- I am super shy when it comes to performing… so we will see how this goes.

If I get injured-can someone take care of my insect colonies?

Also an excuse to finally learn how to photoshop out backgrounds

Julie V. Hopper (ESO member)