Maria’s leaving dos

25 05 2017

There’ve been a series of leaving dos for Maria these last weeks. First, for her very last Behaviour Group meeIMG_4558ting in Guelph, she brought in yummy Basque quiches from Eric the Baker, so that’s the picture to the left (with Alex’s postdoc Nienke van Staaveren in the background, waiting to give a research talk on tail-biting).


Then she set off to Michigan to work on her last project there, and towards the end Steve Bursian and his wife, farm manager Angelo, and other MSU staff gave  her a send-off BBQ and ceremonial presentation of the “House 10” sign (the building in which she’s run nearly all of her experiments since the very start of her PhD in 2006, cunningly disguised as one housing turkeys). Andrea is front left, there to help collect maternal care data, and husband Andy is front right.


And then on Saturday, during her last couple of days back in Ontario (she flew to the UK on Monday), we had a party for her here. Despite the sadness of her leaving (I found myself yesterday wondering if she fancied lunch on Saturday, then realised *sob * she isn’t here!), it was really fun evening with delicious food contributed by everyone in the group. Right to left: Gary (Hazlewood), Aimee, Emma, new student Michelle, Lauren, Kirk (Rankin), Andrea, Vadim, Misha, Maria herself (holding one of her presents from us), Andy and me.

M's party May 20th 2017

Walter leaves Brighton

25 05 2017

Very behind with posts, but last month Walter went home from Spain (a parting shot from him of Brighton below), have managed to test an impressive 32 subjects at the University of Sussex (due to staying longer than planned, me and Dora kicking in some extra money, but him still being poorer than planned overall as the whole thing started so very late). 32 subjects is a terrific N though, so next steps to look forward to: finding out whether the “affect manipulation” (music) altered emotional states in the way that alcohol does? And if yes, did that alter subjects’ tendencies to guess they had been given alcohol rather than a placebo?


Neuroscience Day

9 05 2017

I alway enjoy Neuroscience Day (nice format, the pleasant Arboretum atmosphere, on tap food and caffeine …), and these days seeing how my colleagues’ work has progressed over the years is part of it (Who’s starting up a new lab in earnest? And of the established researchers, who works by drilling down deeper and deeper into a single phenemenon? Who instead is always moving in new directions?).

FullSizeRender-7The plenary by Gail Johnson was too molecular for me (and a section on inducing strokes in mice contained the terrible line “Strokes just don’t seem to affect them. Mice don’t really need their brains” — to laughter, appallingly, from the audience — bringing back memories of the cat talk from two years ago).  But still, overall it was a good day: the speaker’s vivid account of the highs and lows of a 20+ year research programme, and all the many people involved (one being our very own Craig Bailey), was warm, generous and a nice illustration of the way science so often works; many of the students gave great talks; and Lindsey presented a good poster, and nobly looked after Maria’s too.

New ways to scare hens

9 05 2017

20170509_084443In the quest to understand and improve hen welfare, every now and then we have to scare them (though we do this as seldom and as briefly as possible). Recently this has been to record their startle reflexes, but on the horizon, it’s part of Misha‘s new planned study to assess whether, like mink, hens show signs of boredom in non-enriched conditions.  He suspects these might do it…


Congratulations to new student Michelle

9 05 2017

Michelle Lavery, who joins the lab as a PhD student next week, passed her MSc last week! (A relief as the timing is horribly tight…)

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Measuring the heart rate of mice via their feet

9 05 2017

Aimee has been trying for ages to piece together and get working our old, somewhat abandoned Mouse Specifics equipment, but with help of new electrodes and good tech support from the company, success!!! She’s going to use this to see whether “social buffering” effects occur in mice, such that mice with familiar companions are less stressed by challenging situations.

My amazing research!

9 05 2017

They’re SO nice that I will send them not only all my future papers, but also quite a lot of money, too.

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