Terrible news

30 09 2019

Friend, colleague and all round lovely person Victoria Braithwaite has just died, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. To the very end she was serving on a CCAC committee with me, and an NFACC committee with Michelle, and looking forward to the manuscript with her name on that me and Michelle are writing.  This all happened way too soon and way too suddenly (still not sure I really believe it).

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Congratulations again to Emma!

30 09 2019

Emma just finished another marathon, this time with husband John. This is them half way and then at the finish, and what gets me is how utterly normal they look, like it’s nothing but fun: truly amazing!

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UK: the Season Finale

29 09 2019

Animal behaviour in the news

29 09 2019

Three imaginative animal papers made the news in the last couple of weeks.

Screenshot 2019-09-29 18.42.27First, grey squirrels were found to have a clever “it’s quiet… too quiet” vigilance response to the sudden cessation of bird chatter around them (original paper here, and nice write up by the Smithsonian here).

Next, rats were found to be great at playing hide-and-seek with humans, and to Screenshot 2019-09-29 18.49.06have (if I understand it aright) patterns of PFC firing that matched the behavioural inhibition you need to play this game well (original paper here, and cute write up by The Atlantic here). I really hope the researchers adopted them afterwards; after all, can you really kill a research animal you’ve played a role play game with?

092019_SB_cat-attachment_feat-1028x579Last but not least, cats can show attachment-like bonds with owners, it seems! (Interesting write up with a critical Danny Mills here, with the original paper here). Past work has been less kind to cats, but in my very biased experience Sylvie is less scared at the vets (where yesterday she was diagnosed as having the teeth of a homeless meth addict), when she can rub her cheek on my hand. Let the controversies rage!


Spot the non fruit/vegetable

29 09 2019

Behold — in our fridge at home — $1500’s worth of “MILLIPLEX Mouse High Sensitivity T Cell Magnetic Bead Panel” for assaying pro-inflammatory cytokines! Though annoying having to pick it up from Fedex in Cambridge (the dept’s main office closed on Friday, without warning [for a boondoggle], leaving the Fedex guy carrying my expensive, must-be-refrigerated parcel with nowhere to leave it), I spent the journey listening to stuff for my forthcoming citizenship test. And it’s hard to stay cross when the work Aileen and I have planned is so exciting: investigating whether standard cages for mice induce hyper-inflammation …


Lawyers for animals

27 09 2019

Great BBC piece this week on legal campaigns to protect animals:


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Really, who needs content, with such great cartoons around?

27 09 2019


No time to blog, but was sent a great cartoon…

23 09 2019


‘Climate change’ day in Guelph

23 09 2019

I couldn’t make it (to my great chagrin), but Andrea did and sent this:


(But my favourite slogan today was “There is no Planet B”)

New theses in the Atrium!

16 09 2019

Congratulations to Sam, and also to Aimee who defended last week too (write-up still to come but teaching’s obliterating everything right now): the final theses of both of them are now online!

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