A fortune pastry for Team Shrub

Today in lab meeting we ate a traditional Bulgarian pastry baked by our very own data manager and soon-to-be PhD student Gergana Daskalova.

Сладка баница (or sladka banitza) is a new year’s tradition in Bulgaria, it is a pastry that is both sweet and salty representing both the good and the bad in life and it contains pieces of paper cooked in with fortunes written on them! Sure, it isn’t quite the new year anymore, but it is a bit of a new beginning for Team Shrub with new students joining the lab for the summer’s field season or as dissertation students for next year.

As the most senior member of the team, it was my job to slice up the pastry and distribute the fortunes. So, to find out what is in store for members of Team Shrub, read on…



  1. You will discover an amazing super-efficient dplyr trick by chance. – Awesome! We hope that is one amazing dplyr trick per team member, so that we become even more super-efficient programmers. Perhaps, one day we can write a Coding Club tutorial with all of our new coding tricks!
  2. As many stars in the sky, that much money in your wallet (or research funding). – Yay! Future research funding! We don’t know when that funding will arrive, but I guess it is time to get some proposals submitted.



  1. You might not be looking for treasure, but you will find some regardless – perhaps during fieldwork, or whilst frolicking around in the outside world. – A treasure! I love treasures – either actual or metaphorical.
  2. A big research grant is heading your way – lots of exciting research and deep thinking (or even deep machine learning) in your future! More potential funding in our future and maybe some deep machine learning!!! How exciting – though again, I better submit some proposals so this has a possibility of coming true!


  1. Your spirit will be free and you will enjoy exciting travels in new places! – Exciting travels. I hope Sandra remembers to bring her camera to take some more wonderful photos!
  2. Excellent organization skills will help you strike a great work-life balance and you will know just when to say no and when to be super ambitious! – Oh, the illusive work-life balance, and knowing when to say no, sounds like something many folks on Team Shrub are striving towards!


  1. A manuscript of yours shall get accepted in a fancier journal than what you originally envisioned. – An even fancier journal for Gergana’s first manuscript submission perhaps?
  2. A beautiful, logical and novel storyline for a manuscript will form in your head, and you will be organized enough to write it down before you forget it. – Another manuscript fortune, that bodes well for Gergana’s publication record.


  1. Love and joy, both of which sincere, will follow you everywhere you go. – Oh how nice. So many positive things!
  2. Excellent health and a great state of mind will help you be happy and accomplished. – Wow how positive yet again. Sounds like Cameron is going to be a great asset to the field crew this summer!


  1. You shall make great progress towards striking the balance between being very ambitious and knowing when it’s enough for your work to be “good enough”. – We could all work on that, particularly the perfectionists on the team!
  2. Bravely go forward, good luck will follow you at each step! – Nice one, that does bode well for Sam’s dissertation plans.


  1. After many years, your wish finally comes true – better and more diverse food options on KB! – Wow, all of our dreams would come true if this were the case. After having been to the University of Aberdeen this week and sampling their delicious on campus food, we are feeling very jealous!
  2. Exciting nature experiences shall provide you with inspiration and motivation! – Probably, while Haydn is on his Easter cycling holiday.


  1. Strong will take you forward in life! – Strong will and perseverance. There is a lot of that on Team Shrub.
  2. A chance encounter leads to an exciting opportunity for collaboration from which novel contributions to science will arise! – Hmm… perhaps this is referring to Andy’s current travels to Brazil to fly a drone over the rainforest.


  1. Amazing! You will have time to be lazy and relax! – Ah, we could all probably use a bit of relaxing with our busy schedules of late!
  2. Brilliant ideas shall pop into your head at unexpected times. – Cool! Bodes well for Jakob’s PhD analyses! I hope we all have some brilliant ideas over the next year.


  1. You might have given up on a certain manuscript or goal, but unexpected help and inspiration will give you the drive to finally accomplish those tasks! – Nice. Nina can probably use her future inspiration in her new job!
  2. Your communication skills will be top notch – be it manuscripts, emails or presentations, you will be clear and concise, and your efforts to develop those skills will pay off! – Top notch! Those communication skills are also going to come in handy with the new job.  Congrats Nina!

So it sounds like it is going to be a very productive and ambitious, yet relaxing and balanced year for Team Shrub. Thanks to our new team members for coming along to the lab meeting, thanks to those who attended in spirit and thanks to Gergana for making the Сладка баница! Don’t forget to burn your fortunes before next year so that they all come true.

By Isla

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