Email of the week

2 08 2020

From Noam, as we reframe our zebrafish pref MS for Animal Behaviour (they rejected it without even sending it out to referee, for being too applied – read ‘boring’. But we disagree):


(This is much funnier if you’re a Brit: I’m actually tempted to leave out the “l” forever)

Giant grant – submitted!

18 07 2020

The $24 million LOI went in on Wed. I think we did every single thing we could to make it good, and now it’s just up to the judgment of the committee. I’m going to miss my regular Wednesday check-ins with wonderful co-lead Gail Davies and grant-writer Sylvian Duval!  

Below, our lovely project overview diagram, in its final form (crafted by grad student and illustrator-on-the-side Victoria Rea), and the first scruffy early draft (with masking tape instead of whiteout):

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Error message of the week

15 07 2020

…. while uploading portions of the Giant Grant:
Screenshot 2020-07-14 17.59.17(My friend Anna thinks it’s asking me out on a date).

Rebranding the UK

15 07 2020


The Fall semester

10 07 2020


Referee comment of the week

28 06 2020

On how to describe the control conditions (really not bad by industry standards) in our “chicken resilience” enrichment paper. We kind of love this referee for saying this, but we’re doing doing it!

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Weird stress response

27 06 2020

Everything is worse (it probably now goes without saying) during a pandemic. And last week I had an acute stress response (against this backdrop of chronic stress) that was so strong and strange I couldn’t help finding it fascinating. Packing up my work to come inside from the porch, I closed my laptop around some paper, not realizing that there was a paperclip in there too. I heard a ‘crick’, and when I opened up my laptop again, this is what I saw: I’d destroyed the screen.



As I looked at it, I was hit by a sudden wave of fatigue so overwhelming that I nearly lay down right there on the floor. I had to fight not to go straight to bed. I was supposed to be driving downtown, but had to cancel: no way was I safe to drive. And I staggered around with leaden eyes all afternoon, it finally only wearing off about 24h later. I don’t know what on earth it was, but my guess would be pro-inflammatory cytokines. And functionally I think my body was saying “You’re the wrong type of mammal to hibernate, but just shut down into torpor: nothing you do can make a difference to anything”.  If only I’d got Aileen to assay my blood before and after!

I was wrong about cute mink

27 06 2020

because they do actually keep getting cuter, especially when they fall asleep with a head in the drinker…  (yes, this is more from Becky):


Another postcard from Nova Scotia

18 06 2020

More baby pics from the Dalhousie research mink farm. These little guys are at perhaps their cutest age, though sadly they’ve drawn the short straw in terms of enrichment (minimum standards only).


NSERC Scientific Communications Skills grant IN!

18 06 2020

My first real job as CCSAW Director (aside from lots and lots of consulting with people so to get the lay of the land) has been crafting an application to the new NSERC Science Communication Skills scheme. Writing Services’ Jodie Salter and Sarah Gibbons were the co-PIs, and we plan to develop online resources capable of training 1000s of grad students, that take them all the way from structuring a paragraph to appreciating the highs and lows of science journalism as a career (CBS alum Arielle Duhaime-Ross being one of our star invitees). Why should this be a CCSAW thing? Because communicating complex, sometimes controversial issues takes a LOT of technical skill — and I suspect there’s a huge, unmet public appetite for our work too.

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