Farewell, dear blog.

I’m pleased to announce that I have been appointed as the Dean of Students at McGill! This appointment will start on 1 August, and will certainly involve a lot of changes to work, life and everything in between. As many of you know, I have long been involved with University administration, and I have written before about why I enjoy administration, and why it is valuable. Being a Dean of Students is especially interesting to…

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Spiderday (#27)

I know, I know… it’s been too long since the last SPIDERDAY post! The end of term proved busy, but I’m trying to get back on track. So: here are some of the best arachnid-themed stories of the past couple of months. I hope you enjoy all the eight-legged greatness! Let’s start things off with a beautiful photo: Zora hespera, photo by Sean McCann The photo, above, is in this great post about “wolf-like” prowling…

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What does it mean to “do science”?

This is a guest post by PhD student Shaun Turney. I fully endorse it. It’s awesome. As a scientist, when I’m brushing my teeth, I’m doing science. This thought occurred to me yesterday as I was trying to reason myself out of a bout of imposter syndrome. I was thinking: I don’t work hard enough to be a good scientist. I haven’t even done any science all day. I helped a francophone colleague with grammar,…

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Teaching in an Active Learning Classroom: Pros and Cons

Earlier this term I wrote about my excitement with teaching in an active learning classroom: as a quick refresher, my course had just over 80 students, and is an introductory ecology class. The course has a strong focus on quantitative approaches to population and community ecology, from equations to modelling. I’ve gave up traditional PowerPoint slides for this class a long time ago, but until this term, I was still teaching in a theatre-style lecture…

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Using Twitter in science: advice for graduate students

I recently gave a hands-on workshop to graduate students in our department about using Twitter in science. As part of that workshop, I provided some bullet points about this social media tool, and I thought it might be useful to share these perspectives more broadly! Twitter can be useful for: Filtering, accessing science stories relevant to your field of study (e.g., EurekAlert!, news media, science writers) Assisting with your career (job ads, getting to know…

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Spiderday (#26)

Finally, SPIDERDAY is back! (Sorry about the delay – it’s been a busy term, so I’ve not been able to keep up on the blogging). Here are some Arachnid-themed stories pulled from the web over the past month or so: Two of my favourite Arachnologists (Sean and Catherine) have been on a great SPIDER TRIP adventure! This is one of the species they stumbled across in Texas. Yes, it’s a brown recluse (photo by S.…

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Pyramids of species richness

This post is written by PhD student Shaun Turney, and highlights a recent publication from the lab. Two years ago, I was finishing my MSc and considering whether I’d like to do a PhD, and if so, with whom. I met with Chris and we threw around a few ideas for PhD projects. It was when he brought up a certain mystery that my decision to do a PhD in his lab was cemented. The…

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Bog spiders: family composition and sex ratios

This is the second post by Honour’s undergraduate student Kamil Chatila-Amos – he has been busy working on identifying LOTS of spiders from bogs of northern Quebec. His first blog post introduced his project: this one gives a glimpse into the data… My project is focused on studying spiders from bogs in the James Bay region of Quebec. Five bogs along the James Bay highway were sampled with pan traps every week for four sampling…

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Insect herbivory in fragmented forests: it’s complicated

I’m excited to announce a recent paper to come out of the lab, by former PhD student Dorothy Maguire, and with Dr. Elena Bennett. In this work, we studied the amount of insect herbivory in forest patches in southern Quebec: the patches themselves varied by degree of fragmentation (ie, small versus large patches) and by connectivity (ie, isolated patches, or connected to other forest patches). We studied herbivory on sugar maple trees, both in the…

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Natural history of canopy-dwelling beetles: More than just ‘Fun Facts’

This is the second post by undergraduate student Jessica Turgeon – she’s doing an Honour’s project in the lab; here’s her first post that introduces the project.  Since that first post, Jessica has spent a LOT of time at the microscope, and has identified over 120 species of spiders and beetles from forest canopies and understory habitats. Every species has a different story to tell and each one of these is equally interesting. I sometimes…

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