One of the many things I’ve learned over the last few months is how difficult it can be to organize field operations in a foreign country for a group of over a dozen US-based scientists. As it turns out, this is a rather complicated task. Our group has been extremely fortunate to have the help of a group of Russian colleagues whose work over the last few months has been truly invaluable. These people deserve special thanks.
Elena Vasilievna Pislegina and Alexander (Sasha) Vladlenovich Pislegin have been working as our logistical coordinators, and our work would not be possible without them. They arranged our visas and sample permits, made repeated trips to Irkutsk to pick up members of our team, and even repaired some of our broken equipment.
Lyudmila Nikolaevna Ryapenko is the manager of the field station and resident Renaissance woman. She can (and does) do everything from managing the day-to-day operations of the station to finding mushrooms with uncanny precision (not to mention creating a delicious meal out of them). Over lunch one day she told us that Olga Kozhova taught her that a scientist must not only know science, but also have a wide range of practical skills. Lyudmila Nikolaevna has clearly taken this advice to heart. And did I mention her garden could probably feed the entire town of Bolshie Koty?
Without samples there would be no project, and without the crew of the university’s boat there would be no samples. Sergei Nikolaevich Veschev and Valery Peshkov have taken our group all over the lake in search of plankton this summer.
Last but not least, Nina Vasilievna deserves special acknowledgement for feeding a horde of hungry scientists all summer (no small task!), sustaining a fairly serious hand injury along the way.
Our field season has been productive (and fun!), and would not have happened without the support of these colleagues. We look forward to working with them more in the future. Spasibo!