I am a current MBA student and am kicking myself because I really wish, in retrospect, that I had found my passion for ants long ago and had studied entimology. Now, less three classes away from finishing school, I am wondering how can I get more involved with Myrmecology without actually going back to school for a third degree or more.
I messaged Doctorant and he was gracious enough to reply with some suggestions that I have pasted below at his suggestion. I am sure some of you out there are in the field as well and if you have any suggestions on how to get more in touch with the science community via books, contacts for volunteering, etc. I would be grateful for the help. A second question was about microscopes which Doctorant also replied to below.
"Contact university entomology departments in your area
to find out if there are ant researchers there, then establish some sort of
working contact with them. I recall you are somewhere in the Carolinas,
and would note the presence of a strong ant group at NCSU, at least.
-There are many good scopes out there, including relatively inexpensive
ones. In general terms, what you need is a stereo dissecting microscope with 20X
ocular lenses. Sometimes you can find used ones for a really good price, but be
sure to try it out, first.
-A pinning stage that can be rotated on any axis
is also useful, for looking at point-mounted material, such as the specimens
in Ant Web images. These are available from entomology supply houses such as
-Lighting is important. The old stand-by is a two-neck fiber optic
lighting system, but many are coming to prefer a more diffuse light from a
fluorescent lighting system. These, in my view are okay, but often not as bright
as I would like them."
After emailing an online site that sells microscopes this was the suggestion from the sales director for what I am looking for in a setup.
microscope http://www.microscope.com/omano-om4413t-10x30x-trinocular-stereo-microscope-p-300.html camera attachment http://www.microscope.com/best-value-optixcam-summit-digital-microscope-camera-p-587.html
Any feedback on these being good choices or not would be appreciated as well. The price of the microscope is bearable, mainly because I have a five year old who loves science (ants especially!) and she will be able to grow up using one as well.
ps - sorry if this is not formatted well, I had some trouble with the spacing.