Halloween means something different in Athens, Ohio. Sure, we have kids running around, trick-or-treating in Spiderman, Harry Potter, and princess costumes. But we also have what is reputed to be the third largest block party in the country, involving not just Ohio University students and locals but people from all over. Our little town of about 25,000 residents and 20,000 students swells with another 20,000–50,000 revelers (read the definitive history, Athens News, 31 Oct 2009). Costumes are elaborate and planned months or years in advance. There’s music, there’s food…and, yes, there’s drink. WitmerLab members work extremely hard, but even they are not immune to the pull of this annual event.
In honor of this year’s Halloween, I gave Amy Martiny—a WitmerLab grad student, lab photographer, and super-creative person—free reign to craft a festive image or two. Her amazing work is here, including a macabre Halloween take on our Pick-and-Scalpel design. WitmerLab doctoral student Jason Bourke also contributed an ol’ skool carved pumpkin…but with a macropredaceous and macro-awesome dinosaur theme!
A nod to The Paleochick’s Digs
It’s only fair to point out that the idea for putting together a blog post with our Halloween theme was inspired by Ashley Fragomeni’s blog, The Paleochick’s Digs. She’s been running an awesome series of posts on paleo-themed carved pumpkins with her own insightful (and hilarious!) commentary. You should check it out!
Last but not least: Jason’s carved pumpkin masterpiece
Jason Bourke carved the pumpkin below over the course of a few evenings…even breaking out power tools like a dremel. The scene depicts two gigantic predatory theropod dinosaurs, T. rex on the left and the Argentinian monster Giganotosaurus on the right. He based the image on a post from Dave Hone’s great blog, Archosaur Musings. Interestingly enough, our own Eric Snively had generated the 3D digital image that was in Dave’s blog post a few years ago.
Don’t we have better things to do?
All this may seem frivolous, and it pretty much is, but stuff like this doesn’t take much time and repays itself many times over in bolstering lab morale. We’re a cohesive group that works very well together, and it’s activities like this (or elaborate group photos or outreach events or TV shoots, or freezer inventories, etc.) that help forge the bond and promote a positive lab vibe. And from the perspective of the public, it shows that scientists aren’t always all about white lab coats and test tubes. Science and scientists can be fun. We take our science very seriously, but ourselves…? Not so much.
–Larry Witmer, although this was the labor of the folks in the lab, of whom I’m always so proud—even when they’re goofing off!