Saskatchewan’s University

The doors that led to my geophysics career.

The doors that led to my geophysics career.

Today, I am at the University of Saskatchewan. I am here to attend the 44th annual conference of the Canadian Science Writer’s Association.  I hope to learn to be a better writer (maybe this Bad Beekeeping Blog will become less of an invidious palaver). But I am also here – at the U of S – to visit my alma mater, the campus where I earned my geophysics badge 25 years ago. I had not seen the campus in 20 years. The last time I was here, I was interviewing science graduates and trying to entice them with promises of fun, games, and money at a company I worked for in Calgary. That was 20 years ago. The intervening years were busy: I was diagnosed with motor neuron disorder, I married, had two more children (they are now 8 and 13), and I built a honey farm near Calgary, then sold it. I also traveled at least once to Chile, Vietnam, Peru, Croatia, Hungary, England, Ireland, and nine other countries. But I had not come back to the university. Until today.

I met two of my favourite profs. Jim Merriam, my geophysics mentor, and Chary Rangacharyulu, my main physics professor. Both became heads of their respective departments while I was away. Surprisingly, they both recognized me, though I’m afraid that I changed much more than either of them. My 25 years out of school were rough, and it shows. But these gentlemen – and other professors I met today – looked like they had just finished a lecture they taught me and my mates in 1991. We chatted about the school, their lives and families. It was a great visit. I met others who remembered me at the school, too, though many of my associates had retired. We are aging.

usask2nobelsThe University of Saskatchewan is a beautiful campus. There are gorgeous trees, expansive green stretches, and most of the buildings here are constructed from sandstone blocks – many of them chiseled a hundred years ago from local rock. The school may seem obscure to you because it sits in a small city in the middle of a big province in a big country. You would be surprised to discover that two Nobel Laureates did their research here. The school has North America’s finest veterinarian college and has produced oodles of ag-scientists and geologists.

Someone who works on the Arts and Sciences Scholarship Committee at the University of Saskatchewan told me that they had received a nice grant a few years ago. (I was not told the source of the money.) It was to be used for a scholarship open to any student, in any area of study, unless the recipient was a bad beekeeper. The university committee realized at once that the bad beekeeper was me. They likely thought it was quite funny, as do I. I knew that a few people from among the Saskatchewan bee community were wary of my success. I never thought they would immortalize me in such a charming way. I’ll have to learn more about this so I can contribute to that fund myself.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Ron has written two books, dozens of magazine and journal articles, and complements his first book, Bad Beekeeping, with the blog at badbeekeepingblog.com. Ron wrote his most recent book, The Mountain Mystery, for everyone who has looked at a mountain and wondered what miracles of nature set it upon the landscape. For more about Ron, including some cool pictures taken when he was a teenager, please check Ron's site: miksha.com.
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