CSAW symposia

4 11 2018

A sign of how large my ‘backblog’ is, here I am reporting on not one but two past CSAW symposia, from May 2018 and May 2017!

This annual meeting is always a great event (2016’s being a particular highlight for me because Marian spoke). The 2017 one saw MSU undergrad student Sam Decker (below) presenting a talk for Maria (who was tied up at iSlide1n East Lansing getting ready to leave for the UK). He did a terrific job (and then started a MSc with me a few months later, having successfully won an OMAFRA HQP award! He’s now looking at how novelty, variety and number influence the efficacy of simple enrichments on mink farms).

Aside from that it was a quiet meeting for my lab, with only Andrea giving a talk. The ever-engaging Ed Pajor gave the plenary, on welfare issues in the rodeo: a really fascinating topic (though the talk was too data-free for me personally  –  not quite enough to get the intellectual teeth into).

2018’s conference was, by contrast, a big (and slightly traumatic) one for my lab, with five of us, including me, giving talks (partly in prep. for the ISAE, and in my case, because I had had a project funded by CSAW and so had to present it).  Aileen made a poster for the meeting too.  The poster, and Aimee’s and Misha’s talks, all went without a hitch.  So did Little Emma‘s (her talk was actually perfect), but she was very, very nervous beforehand: so much so that she threw up.  Andrea was then so utterly thrown by a question after her talk that, after she sat back down in the audience, she cried.  And my own talk was pretty miserable too: the Sussex experiment had been a failure, so presenting it was no fun; I misjudged the timing, and could see whole sectors of the audience losing track of my meaning; and by about half way I had an overwhelming urge to curl up into a little ball behind the podium and hope that everyone would quietly leave (“She’s gone into her nest; time for a break everyone”). But here’s the amazing, heartening (and, with hindsight, unsurprising) thing: although Emma, Andrea and I staggered out feeling like we’d been though a war, NO-ONE NOTICED that we were struggling! They just thought we gave good talks! Simply incredible. And I should well and truly know this by now: negative judgment bias – it’s a real and powerful thing, and it gets you when you’re down!

Below, philosopher Karen Houle wraps up the day, and below that, a lovely pic of Aileen tweeted by Michelle:


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