And Baby Makes Three
Chapter 21

Copyright© 2010 by Pedant

It was Thursday lunch. Mona had cancelled SciTech for me. She'd also scheduled the Dean's conference room and arranged for pizzas, salad and soft drinks for a dozen. There weren't a dozen, but who knew who would eat what. I had put together lists of names and phone numbers and I had requested the Dean to join us for a few minutes to 'charge' the committees. Mona duplicated the lists. I wasn't sure whether I was looking forward to this or not.

Things were going well at home. Weena hadn't phoned Mary on Sunday; Mary'd phoned her before noon. Rob had bitten the bullet. They'd be arriving on Friday to "shop for a ring." Weena was excited – at 30 she was acquiring a mother. "We're ring central," I remarked. "Charlie and Maddy, Evans and Willy, now Rob and Mary."

"Charlie bought Maddy the ring in Alice."

"Yes. But we took him to the shop."

I got to the conference room by 11:30. There was no one else there. For a moment I wondered whether the Billiton VP would be last, making a grand entrance, or one of the faculty. The student would be on time, no doubt, as would be Dr. Blake. As for the five faculty, who could tell?

I was wrong; the VP was first. He introduced himself to me, we shook hands and he gave me his business card. "I've put my admin's number on the back. Her name's Sandra. Call her if you need anything. She knows way more than I do." We both laughed. Next came a trio of my colleagues, then Steve Blake, then the student. I looked at my watch. 11:55. There was a bustle by the door and two deliverymen arrived. They cleared the sideboard by the door and set up lunch. I looked about.

"Well, I'm Gordy Hollister. I'm with the CSIRO and I've been asked to chair two search committees for the Centre. We still have two MIA, so why don't you all get yourselves food and drink and then we'll do introductions."

There was the usual chaotic, yet purposive milling. After a few minutes everyone appeared settled and one more faculty member had sneaked in. I got myself a slice of pepperoni pizza and a bottle of water.

"We're still missing one. But let's get started with introductions." The VP was sitting to my left, so I nodded at him. He was quite succinct, about three sentences, which gave the brevity key. Blake merely said that he was the Director of WAMSI; the faculty (grouped together for warmth?) were into reproduction, animal acoustics, millipedes. The fourth, on the 'right' side, was a molecular biologist, next to him was a just-arrived, red-faced woman.

"I'm sorry. I went to your office, without thinking. I'm a post-doc and work with frogs."

"Catch your breath and get some lunch."

The student said she was interested in Antarctic krill.

"Thank you all. You comprise two search committees: one for a new chair for the Centre for Evolutionary Biology, the other for an additional staff member." At this point the door opened and the Dean came in.

"Good afternoon. May I say a word?"

"Of course. Lady and gentlemen, this is the Dean of the School."

"Thanks, Gordy. And thank you all for being willing to serve the University. I decided to come in because I wanted to emphasize the seriousness and importance of what you're embarking upon. The Centre for Evolutionary Biology is of importance to Perth, to Australia and internationally. I want you to find us the very best candidates for these posts that you can. The new chair will be representing the University of Western Australia during the Darwin sesquicentennial in 2009. The additional appointment will fill out the Centre's coverage. Industry, WAMSI and CSRI are represented to show how important I consider this. I look forward to your recommendations. Thanks for listening to me." He left. I looked around.

"Okay. If you want more to eat or drink, do it now. Five minutes for washrooms, if you need them." I got another piece of (rubbery-looking) pizza.

When everyone was back at the table. "While this may seem strange, the first thing I'd like to do is get your thoughts on what's needed where the Centre is concerned. I've met a number of people and I've read the Centre's literature. The latter states:

"We have particular expertise in acoustic signalling, predator-prey interactions, visual ecology, sperm competition, chemical ecology, and the genetic mapping of complex traits." and "Centre staff have independent yet complementary research programs addressing evolutionary questions in diverse organisms, from plants to insects, fishes, frogs, and humans."

It seems clear that there are gaps between plants and insects and between frogs and humans. Should the Centre appoint in those gaps?" I looked around.

"I'd like to see someone who deals with molluscs," came a voice.

"Or monotremes," came another.

"Implications of invasive vegetation."

"Quadrupeds."

 
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