|Stegosaurus (cf. armatus) "Sarah" Sauriermuseum Aathal|
|My workstation in the Stegosaur room|
Thus far I have been able to meet and interact with many people at the Sauriermuseum Aathal, including members of the museum staff and other visiting researchers. These interactions remind me that no scientist works in isolation, and even though my research trip was a solo undertaking, my work relies on and informs the work of others in my field. This is a gratifying feeling, and I think that inter-institutional research, be it collaborative or otherwise, fosters this sense of community among researchers. For this reason, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to different institutions for the sake of my studies, including the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, several regional museums in Northeastern China's Liaoning Province, and the Swiss museum I am visiting now.
The more time I spend in Switzerland, the more I notice some of the interesting quirks that make this country unique. For example, no country I have ever been to has ever seemed so fond of the rectangle in its modern architectural application. There is also an interesting mix of modern buildings on the outskirts of the city, as well as grand old stone buildings in the old city, many of which feature colorful swaths of graffiti emblazoned on their facades. My hotel has picked up on this trend and taken it to the next level, featuring special guest rooms decorated by local graffiti artists. I do not happen to be staying in one of these rooms, but I think this is an interesting way to incorporate a not-so-glamorous aspect of the urban environment into the lives of visitors. The landscape surrounding Zurich is beautiful, and although I will not have a chance to visit the mountains on this trip, I can sometimes catch a glimpse of them from the wide windows of the commuter train I take each morning, and they are spectacular in their majesty. Overlooking the house-dotted hills, they stand as a reminder of the province of nature that is easily forgotten in the midst of the city. The novel Frankenstein comes to mind. Mary Shelley's evocative prose captures the essence of this natural landscape wonderfully, and although much of the description in this romantic-era novel seems grandiose when read out of context, being here in Switzerland, I can see what inspired her pen. Hopefully, however, my fate as a scientist proves more positive than that of the tormented titular character in that classic novel.