It has been quite the summer! The season started a little early with a one-week visit to the University of Glasgow Big Data Centre thanks to a grant from McGill University International Relations. The visit had the rapid-fire air of a hiring visit: several chats with faculty I had not had the privilege of meeting previously; codeshifting my language based on the specialty of whoever's office I was in; hectic last-minute changes in schedule; small-talk in the break room. The experience offered some eye-opening perspectives about my own work, particularly regarding how I should re-orient my research agenda to take advantage of innovations in big data and GIScience. I closed off the visit with a 22-mile hill walk along the West Highland Way (gorgeous and mystical) and a long layover in Amsterdam, where I saw the infamously efficient and sustainable transportation system close-up following a morning in the city.
Six weeks later, I met with colleagues at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers. It was great to meet new people and see the current state of research produced by our tax dollars through our SSHRC (and NSERC, FRQSC, etc.) grants. Having never been to Halifax, I took the whole week to soak in the place, including a very informative tour about the city's urban development led by Saint Mary's University Prof. Hugh Millward. I look forward to meeting everyone again at next year's meeting at York University in Toronto.
June and July have been a bit of a haze. I set my research schedule to 2x speed to write 3 manuscripts in time for the Transportation Research Board conference deadline. It was difficult to jump from principle component analysis one day to socio-spatial epistemologies the next, and like many Ph.D. candidates (Did I mention I passed my comps?), there were days where I felt that I was losing my mind. Fortunately, I finished the manuscripts with time to spare. I'm optimistic that these papers will be well-received by the reviewers at TRB and elsewhere, in cases where they're slated to be submitted to external publications, with the caveat that I'm favourably predisposed toward my own work. In the words of Louis XIV: L'état, c'est moi.
Where do I stand now? In short, I'm well-poised to take a mini-vacation. After a couple weeks at 0.25x working speed and a long drive to the country (or 2), I'm going to ease into my autumn research and teaching schedule. I look forward to starting the "big walkability project" and, with a little foresight, getting some high-quality deliverables ready well in advance of the deadline for TRB 2018. Countdown: 1 year, 3 days.