Ralf Schäfer reports from his research stay at the Utah State University (USU) in Logan, Utah.
Every 5 years, professors are eligible for a teaching-free semester to focus on research and enable international exchange. I met Charles Hawkins, a well-known freshwater ecologist, on a conference and after an interesting discussion he invited me for a research stay, given our shared interests in the assessment of pollutant effects in streams and the analysis of large scale ecological patterns. It was not difficult to persuade my family to temporarily move to Logan, after I told them that the USU is more or less (at least for US conditions) close to several famous National Parks.
We mastered the time-consuming visa process and now have been here for four weeks. The daily routine is not much different than in Landau: I bring my daughter to the university kindergarden and then work in my office. But I profit from the exciting discussions with Chuck, who has almost 30 years of experience more than me, and with other faculty members. And from the absence of the many obligations at home, which amass when you stay at an institution for a longer time. Of course, another highlight are the many weekend trips to National Parks that host a much higher density of wildlife compared to central European landscapes with their high human population density. And Logan, a town you probably have never heard of given that its size resembles that of Landau, is situated near Logan Canyon (see picture) and rewards with a nice view on the mountainscape each morning and afternoon.
But what about the mormons? Well, we haven’t noticed them a lot, apart from the fact that alcohol is strongly regulated and from the very positive side effect that we can explore wilderness and touristic hotspots in quietness on sunday mornings, because most people are in church.
Overall, the USU and Logan provides us with scientific excellence, very friendly human encounters and a breathtaking scenery – just like Landau 🙂