Movies from my childhood: Not as awesome as I remember…

More often than not on Friday evenings my family has a movie night at home. My kids are 15 and 11 and we are finally at the point where we can regularly watch films that are rated PG rather than G. This has been pretty neat and recently we’ve been introducing our kids to several films that my husband and I really enjoyed from our own childhoods. The first one up was The Last Unicorn.…

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Putting Dog Waste to Good Use

Our dog Sullivan turned 9 this past weekend. Sullivan is awesome, but like all other mammals, he generates a good amount of biological waste. When we moved to Waterloo, we were happy to see that a green bin program was in operation. We used biodegradable pet waste bags to collect his waste and put them in the green bin. Unfortunately, many weeks the bags weren’t accepted by our waste collectors (not sure why) and we…

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Quick Tips for Improving Writing at the Level of Sentences

This term in my course I am having my students write short reflective pieces in response to a writing prompt. As they have gained experience in completing these assignments, the writing pieces have become more reflective, and are usually interesting and engaging. There are a few common problems that I continue to see as the term has progressed and these issues are found at the level of individual sentences. These include typos, switching between tenses,…

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Writing for a Media Organization

I’ve always liked writing as an activity. When I was in Grade 5, my awesome story about a young chicken was published by the school board in a collection of children’s stories. Writing style needs to change with your audience. The majority of my writing for the past 20 years or so has been writing academic projects for fellow scientists. Several years ago I attended a great workshop by Shari Graydon who is the founder…

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Paying for convenience: what is your time worth?

I like to think of myself as technologically savvy, but I have been pretty slow to jump on the online purchasing bandwagon. There have been a couple of reasons for this and the main two have been that I like to actually touch and/or try out a product before I buy it, and the fact that I don’t like some of the employment practices of the larger companies that almost have monopolies in the online…

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Doctor Al Digest 28

A few things that I’ve found interesting in the past few weeks: A nasty case of alleged sexual harassment drives home the point the dangers that are inherent in a system where a graduate student has only one faculty member as their research advisor. It’s important as a grad student to develop a network of mentors. In some cases, it is worth your time to improve a skill that you are poor at, especially if…

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Book Review: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

This is the first book that I’ve read by Daniel Pink, but it likely won’t be the last. I read it because I’m interested in being efficient and effective using time-management techniques and the book certainly has much to offer in this area. It also contains lots of other interesting insights into human relationships with time. The book is divided into three parts and each has its own focus. The first part focuses on daily…

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Why I will continue to use the title Dr.

I was a bit annoyed yesterday when the decision by the Globe and Mail to update their style guide came across my Twitter feed. I get to be an associate professor of biology upon first reference in an article, but become Ms. McDonald on second reference. I guess this is how the Canadian Press have been doing things for years, but I find it irritating and I’m going to tell you why. I’m a professional…

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DoctorAl Digest #26

Word from a psychologist that the productivity advice to “Eat your frog” first thing in the morning doesn’t match well with how human brains actually function. An amusing piece from the journal Inorganic Chemistry on “The Five Stages of Rejection” when it comes to submitting a journal manuscript for peer-reviewed publication. Equity, inclusion, and diversity requires that work must be assigned fairly. A great article in Harvard Business Review. The Special Challenges of Being Both…

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