collaboration with taxonomists (Re: Doug Yanega wrote:)

Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D. mivie at MONTANA.EDU
Fri May 23 08:15:15 CDT 1997

Doug Yanega wrote some things that I feel represent the views of many of
our colleagues.  The response I will now write is directed to the
community for thought, as was my earlier post.  Doug is the sounding
board, not the only one involved.

> The more I thought about this statement, the more I wondered how, exactly,
> one can "watch for projects" when what we were discussing was things like
> ecologists submitting grant proposals that don't include money for a
> taxonomist, thus resorting to morphotyping and vouchering when they could
> have done better. Unless one has close personal connections to the people
> writing such a grant, I can't see how one would ever know - it is not like
> there is some bulletin board where everyone working on a new grant proposal
> makes a public announcement about it. If what you're saying is basically
> "It's who you know", then I don't think you'll get much argument. However,
> the topic was not tapping into extant funding programs independently, but
> how to get into collaborative agreements with other scientists *before*
> they have submitted their proposals. Unless what you're saying is LITERALLY
> pounding on the doors of people...but I think if, for example, I contacted
> every botanist or plant ecologist in the hemisphere, asking them to
> consider including a "pollinator taxonomist" as co-PI in their next grant,
> I would become persona non-gratis rather quickly.

It IS who you know.  BUT if you want to play, you have to get to know
them.  We as systematists cannot set back in our own community and
expect the ecologists to see how important we are.  We (especially the
underemployed and under supported in search of new lines of funding)
need to read the literature of our eco-buddies, find places we can
improve things, and then initiate conversations.  This is just like a
sales person does.  Now, if you say "I don't have time for that" or "I
don't work like that" I have no sympathy for you -- you just don't want
it or need it bad enough.

> Again, I think the point was not so much how we, individually, could get
> taxonomic projects supported, but rather how we could convince people doing
> other sorts of projects that they would benefit from working with
> taxonomists (hopefully on an equal basis).

You have to walk before you run.  Before they will do that you have to
SHOW THEM THE BENEFIT.  Then produce it for the person you want to work
with.  As for the equality part, you have to earn it, usually by
starting in a non-equal role, but it will come if you do the good work.

> The time to get funding to put
> names on material is not 20 years after the original study is finished,
> working with vouchers from already-published studies, but AS the study is
> being done, with money in the budget to pay for as broad a base of
> expertise as may be needed. Or are you suggesting that taxonomists start
> writing all the ecological-based grants, and inviting the ecologists to
> join *us*?

Why not?  If you have a better mouse-trap, build it.  Then go out and


Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D.          |
Associate Professor and Curator |   Us   Them    Other
Department of Entomology        |    \     /      /
Montana State University        |     \   /      /
Bozeman, MT 59717-3020          |      \ /      /
USA                             |       \      /
                                |        \    /
Phone: (406) 994-4610           |         \  /
FAX:   (406) 994-6029           |          \/
e-mail: mivie at       |  "We have more in common
                                |      than we think"


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