My friends and family when I talk about my research

24 07 2012

When an undergrad gets results that are useful to me

24 07 2012

And even bigger congratulations to Charlie! (aka Dr. Charlotte Burn)

16 07 2012

This is my former PhD student, Charlotte Burn, a lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College ( receiving her “Young Scientist of the Year” award from UFAW ( She’s the one on the right, smiling. Christoper Wathes (, Rick D’Eath ( rickdeath/) and I nominated her, and we are so delighted she got it. Marian Dawkins and Christine Nicol are the very deserving winners of the UFAW Medal for senior scientists in welfare science (though they don’t seem as pleased about it as Charlie).

Screen shot 2012-07-15 at 11.00.33 PM

Congratulations to Kaela!

11 07 2012

Kaela Shaw did an undergraduate project with Jamie (Dallaire), Dana (Campbell) and myself in March, looking at the copulatory behaviour of male mink on a commercial fur farm (here data helped us show that males raised with really quite simple enrichments are hotter with the ladies; see She just heard she got into vet school (OVC)! 

Sweat and tears, although no actual blood

7 07 2012

This is me looking miserable in a sweltering cow barn. It’s 34 degrees, and having spent days & days setting up 16 cameras, 100s of metres of camera cable, 4 splitters and 4 DVRs (a total 24 electrical items, all connected to just 4 power outlets using a cunning & vast array of adaptors), I’ve just found out that the reason two of my DVRs keep cutting out after 2 or 3 hours of recording is that their power outlets are somehow connected to the lighting circuits, so that when everyone goes home and the barn lights get switched off, so do these DVRs. No-one there had any idea about this bizarre circuitary, and it meant I had to rejig everything to hang precariously off just two outlets. Augh. Honestly, before, whenever my grad students talked about how hard it was setting up complex video systems, I used to try and pretend to be sympathetic, but really my inner voice was always saying “Yeah yeah yeah, but how about just getting on with it and doing some ACTUAL SCIENCE?!’. No longer: I am now a totally reformed character.


Homeopathic ER

7 07 2012

Congratulations to Jamie! (Oops and Kaitlin)

7 07 2012

Jamie (Dallaire)  just won a $2000 Arlen Kerr scholarship! This scholarship is from the Canada Mink Breeders Association ( cmbfarm. shtml), and for his work on play. Last year Jamie found that levels of social play predicted male mating performance in adulthood: cool, but just a correlation. Now he’s trying to manipulate play levels experimentally, to see if doing so boosts (or retards) male sexual performance. Right now he’s working in the sweltering heat with Sarah Bowyer and Kaitlin Bahlmann, two undergraduates who have helped us enormously over the last couple of years. And I forgot to blog this: Kaitlin cleverly won an Animal Welfare Student Scholarship from UFAW ( to work on this project with us this summer.