I’m delighted to finally, officially announce that the lab has received funding from the National Science Foundation — for a big, collaborative endeavor we’ve been calling the Joshua Tree Genome Project. Collaborative grants to us here at CSUN and to Chris Smith’s lab at Willamette University, with subawards to collaborators at USGS and the Universities of Alabama and Hawai’i Mānoa will support four years of experiments, fieldwork, and genomic analysis to learn how Joshua trees cope with climate extremes, how their populations might adapt to climate change, and how adaptation to climate has affected the tree’s coevolution with their hyper-specialized pollinators.
CSUN is about as close as possible to the ideal place to do the kind of science and scholarship I want to do — a large, diverse public university with strong support for teaching and research, and great colleagues studying ecology, evolution, and every aspect of the living world. Campus is located within half an hour’s drive (well, maybe an hour with traffic) from sites where I studied Joshua trees as a graduate student, and it has good facilities and an excellent climate for growing my favorite legume, too. (I’d be remiss if I failed to mention, as well, that CSUN should be familiar to fellow fans of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” as the alma mater of one Joshua Felix Chan.)
To extend a metaphor I used in an essay about being a postdoc last year, I feel like I’ve finally been called up to the big leagues. I’ve already submitted my first pre-proposal for NSF research funding with CSUN affiliation, with collaborators from the Joshua Tree Genome Project, and I’m making plans to hit the ground running with that project and others when I officially arrive on campus later this summer.