31 03 2017

Meanwhile, Emma N aScreenshot 2017-03-30 20.01.10nd Aimee were building on Mike’s visit by trying to get heart-rate recordings from my Mouse Specifics apparatus which can measure this via the soles of mices’ feet.

This has always been tricky – getting baseline heartrates is impossible as the mice are scared; they won’t stand still (even on the small elevated platform designed to keep them in one spot); and now, with my very out-of-date, very sticky electrodes, the mice apparently hate having their paws touch the gel. We clearly have some thinking to do…


All about carnivores

30 03 2017

Emma M flew back to Bristol yesterday after an excellent visit. She and Miranda painstakingly worked through some puzzles in Jeanette and Ros’s old data (not just to double-check, but as essential prep to make sure when new animals were added, newIMG_4481 medians would be calculated correctly). As an example, one of the many strange problems they had to solve was, just how many jaguars called “Pelé” are there in Brazilian zoos?

The two were helped by Jeanette herself on Tuesday night. Here is everyone in an Ethiopian restaurant on Bloor Street (left to right, Miranda, Emma and J.). We really should have toasted Ros, who started all of this!

Best of all, after all the small corrections had been added, the new data integrated, and an executive decision made about some highly suspect data on fossas, our old result re-emerged: naturally large home ranges still predict stereotypic route-tracing (exciting because for a few weeks it had vanished, making Miranda and I sweat a bit). Below, Emma and Miranda show how relieved they are (in front of their meticulous attempt to work out which lynx was which across three confusing Scottish studies from the late 90s).


‘Natural stimuli’ review submitted!

27 03 2017

Misha has been working on this paper for well over a year (as have I, to a much lesser extent): it covers why we like views of trees, water and mountains, how they are good for our mental and physical health, and discusses whether such effects be extrapolated to other species. It’s a greta paper, but an odd topic for this journal so for the next few days our fingers’ll be crossed that they choose to send it out for review.

Screenshot 2017-03-27 08.47.40


26 03 2017

I’ll just say this: with fab food from Magnolia Catering, lovely desserts from Miranda, Emma N. and Aimee, cocktails personally mixed by Mike, and (mostly) glamorous outfits, we do posh well.

Left to right: Miranda, Lauren, Andrea’s partner Vadim, Andrea, Maria, Aimee, Emma M., Aimee’s husband Rob, Misha, Emma N., Mike, me, Misha’s wife Gwen, and Maria’s husband Andy.

Lab party March 2017



Thursday March 23rd

26 03 2017

Thursday was a very busy, satisfying and diverse day. First we had a journal club on a happiness paper set by Misha (which I’ll write up later), and welcomed Emma who’d  arrived from the UK the night before. Then Emma and Miranda got to work (sorting out some of the more troublesome data they’d inherited from Jeanette) ….

Miranda and Emma

… while most of us went to see Trevor’s student Rachel give a seminar on sorting of a different kind (feed-sorting in dairy cattle with SARA).

Misha meanwhile went to pick up his new hens from Arkell: here they are, still a bit scared from their trailer journey (L), and then settling in their new pens in the Animal Biosciences barn (R).

Then Aimee, ‘other Emma‘ and I started a giant sort through the mouse equipment I’ve stored in the depths of Animal Biosciences for the couple of years since Mike’s project ended, pulling out stuff we need for Mike’s visit tomorrow, disinfecting it, moving it back to the CAF, and disinfecting again, since we know that wild mice have probably been prancing around and peeing all over it in the basement. Here is the surreal sight of a three-legged home-made plus maze waiting for a ride (its other leg was never found), and Emma and Aimee having a break to check out Misha’s new hens (side-tracked by the lovely old barn cat).

The day ended with Elena’s lab group, at which Honours thesis student (and potential new grad student) Lindsey Kitchenham presented on her work that’s cleverly (but not successfully,  …. yet anyway) trying to use the social transmission of food preferences to assess individual recognition in lab mice.

By this point I was tired, dusty, itchy-eyed, achey and hungry, but more convinced than ever that I love my job.

Lindsey's talk

Gender Equity dinner

26 03 2017

Our fabulous new provost Charlotte Yates is kicking off a year of gender equity research and policy analysis, to see whether some of the issues that have been uncovered at other universities (and in research councils too) are evident here at UoG.

She opened this with a dinner at the Cutton Club which turned out to be extremely fun (with great food). We were all set questions to tackle while eating (the sort of directed, nerdy exercise I just adore), gradually creating a wall of post-its on how we felt being women had impacted our careers, what we had done about it personally, and what the UoG should do moving forward (“have a dinner like this every year” being one of my suggestions).



Nova Scotia visit

26 03 2017

Screenshot 2017-03-26 16.10.30

Catching up (way, way behind with blogs …), I spent a couple of days at Dalhousie University in early March. I did not want to go at ALL because my lovely colleague Kirsti Rouvinen-Watt had retired (so was convinced no-one would be interested in my talk), and I was worried we might have to put our very old cat Mouse down that weekend too.

But (predictably really) I did enjoy it: I had a lovely Mouse March 2017evening with Kirsti and her husband; I got to meet delightful new research chair Younes Miar; visited their impressive, well-run mink research facilities (imagining what great work Jamie could do there, were he to win the faculty position they think they’ll open in a couple of years time) …; my talk went well (with many great questions from undergraduates, who are much more used to hearing about mink than the typical student); and to top it all, I came back to a Mouse who had rallied.

Mike’s challenge!

22 03 2017

Mike Walker‘s visiting for a couple of days to work on a paper, to train Emma and Aimee how to use the startle apparatus and other bits of kit, and, most challengingly of all, to (once again) make cocktails on Friday evening from the vast, peculiar contents of our booze cupboard…


‘Anything to declare, madam?’

22 03 2017

Emma Mellor is on her way to visit!!!



Congratulations to Maria!

21 03 2017

She’s had a paper accepted (see below). V nice.

But never mind all that. SHE’S GOT A FACULTY POSITION!!! A lectureship in animal welfare at the UK’s Royal Vet College (where my great former PhD student Charlotte Burn will now be her colleague). Maria starts in June. Since I’ve worked with her for 12 years, her leaving is going to be a bit like losing a limb. But still, brilliant news: v v proud of her.