Work and learn? Yes, please.

The word of the day is bioluminescence.

You might already know what it means. Somehow I have lived fift . . . um, a long time, but did not know the word until I Googled it Thursday, although I guess I’d have puzzled it out in the usual way we break down words for their meanings. Loosely “bio” — natural. “Luminescence” (luminous) — related to light. Natural light.

This word came across my new desk at my new job writing for Old Dominion’s public-affairs staff. My small, break-him-in assignment was to cobble together a news release on a lecture to be given next week by an expert in marine organisms that “glow” in the ocean deep.

Hmm. I read up for a bit on the guy and his research, took the dense title of the planned lecture — “dense” speaking for my non-academic self, of course — and turned out a functional addition to the slate of happenings at ODU.

It all made me smile, even still after my kid shot down my bragging about learning this new word by informing she’s long known it. My satisfaction, though, was for the very small victory, the modest validation, it provided me. When I was considering the job, an enticement to me was the chance to work in the vibrant environment of a college campus with really smart, diverse people discussing really smart, diverse things. Impactful things. So many things I didn’t know or think about. Things that explore and describe natural mysteries and social solutions where I was unaware there were mysteries and solutions to be found.

I could have come across bioluminescence in prior random reading. Heck, I probably have and forgot it or skipped over it. But in this  context, working now among an academic setting for the first time since my undergrad days, learning and incorporating this new scientific word, I’ll be honest, it made me feel good. One day older and just a tiny bit wiser — or at least less unaware — to the world around me.

Clearly, a Ph.D pursuit will not be far behind . . .

(Stay safe out there on the still-frozen tundra, friends. )

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