Uncommon Ground

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Remembering Mimi

Seventeen years ago a driver at Bill’s company was headed south on Route 2 towards Glastonbury. He swerved to miss a paper bag in the road and because he didn’t want anyone else to damage a tire running over a bag of beer bottles, he pulled over and retrieved the bag. Instead of beer bottles, he found two tiny black kittens inside. He was late for a delivery, but he returned to the office and left them there. What follows is a very long story, but at the end of the day Bill took them to our veterinarian. They were so tiny he didn’t know what they could eat. The vet gave Bill some kitten formula, and he brought them home. They were so close to starvation that their bodies shook as they lapped up the formula. They were so small that I could easily hold both of them in the palm of one hand. It was several weeks before they were big enough to climb the stairs to the second floor of our house.

By Sunday night we had named them. Mimi because she was so sweet and kind, as in Puccini’s La Botheme. Maxwell (“Max”) because he is a lovable and ungainly like Maxwell Smart.

Yesterday we lost Mimi. Her health had been declining for more than a year, but in the past week and a half the decline became precipitous. There was a sadness in her eyes, and she was happy only when one of us held her. She passed away peacefully a little after 4:00pm. Max is still healthy, but the three of us, including Max, are heartbrokn. Our house feels empty, but Mimi’s suffering is over. She lives on in our memories, and we will hold her close to our hearts forever.

This is cool (if you’re a typography nerd)

A portion of the fontmap of Google Fonts generated by a designer from Ideo (http://fontmap.ideo.com)

Kevin Ho, software design lead at Ideo, created a fascinating tool to explore the 750+ typefaces available on Google Fonts. I’m not a designer,1 and I use only a small number of fonts,2 so I don’t need this tool, but I’ve been fascinated by printing and typography for several decades. I can’t stop playing with this fontmap, and I had to share the fun. There’s a nice article at Fast Company describing the project and how Ho used two open source algorithms to create it. Maybe future versions of Word will provide a fontmap to explore choices instead of vertical lists.
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Photos from Bonn

Christmas market in Bonn

Christmas market in Bonn, December 2016. Click on the photo to see the entire album on Flickr.

Late last November I visited Bonn to participate in a small workshop sponsored by the Crop Trust (https://www.croptrust.org/) intended to develop criteria to assess whether germplasm collections of crops and crop wild relatives are sufficient to meet the Millenium Development Goals. I was there not because I know a lot about crop germplasm (I don’t), but because my expertise in analysis of genetic structure in plant populations and my work on plant conservation genetics provided some (I hope) useful context for the discussions.

I didn’t have a lot of time to explore Bonn, but I did have a couple of hours on the afternoon I arrived and most of the morning on the day that I left. If you’d like to see the photos I thought were worth saving, click on the image above to visit a Flckr album where you can see them all.

I feel appreciated

Certificate of AwesomenessThis week the University of Connecticut expressed its appreciation for employees. I am nearing the end of my 31st year with the University, and I’ve heard through the grapevine that I’ll be receiving a “surprise” gift recognizing 30 years of service at a meeting I’m attending next week. On Tuesday, I presented a gift to an employee of The Graduate School recognizing 35 years of service as a state employee. I was surprised and gratified to receive the unofficial “Certificate of Awesomeness” pictured above from members of The Graduate School staff. I feel very appreciated – and fortunate to have been a part of UConn for more than 30 years.

A few photos from Dublin


I visited Dublin a couple of weeks ago for meetings of the Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies (DDoGS) from Universitas 21 (http://www.universitas21.com/article/research/details/55/deans-and-directors-of-graduate-studies-ddogs). The meeting began on 20 March with a workshop on “The Future of the Doctorate.” It continued on 21 and 22 March with discussions of graduate research project grants, the possibility of a 3-MT competition for master’s students, plans for a supervisor development project,1, and a discussion of wellness and mental health. This was the fifth DDoGS meeting I’ve attended, and I’ve always found them useful.

There is a direct flight from Hartford to Dublin. I left in the evening on 18 March and arrived in Dublin a little after 5:00am on 19 March. Since there weren’t any activities until 6:00pm that night, I spent most of the day on the 19th wandering around Dublin taking photographs. I also spent the day on 23 March taking photographs, since I didn’t return home until the 24th. The photograph above is of Temple Bar, one of the most famous pubs in Dublin. If you’d like to see more of the photographs I took while I was there, here’s a link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/billandkent/albums/72157679862838432.

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Catching up over the holidays

It’s been a busy few weeks since my last post (November 30). I was in Bonn when that post appeared for a meeting at the Crop Trust focused on developing metrics to assess whether global genebanks have the right types and amounts of diversity to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, specifically to meet this target under Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed.

Almost immediately after I returned, I left for Washington, DC and the annual meetings of the Council of Graduate Schools. When I returned, many items requiring attention had accumulated, and some unusually challenging end-of-the-semester student issues emerged. That’s a long way of saying it’s been nearly a month since my last post. I hope to begin posting regularly again. We’ll see if I manage to do it.

I will be busy this spring, too. In addition to my duties as Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of The Graduate School, I’ll be teaching my graduate course in population genetics, EEB 5348. I just started rebuilding the course website after losing it due to a server meltdown last summer. I’ll have notes for individual lectures on-line again in the next week or two. In the meantime, a compiled version of all of the notes is available on Figshare. If you’re a LaTeX geek, a more current version of the notes (in LaTeX, with EPS graphics) is available on Github.