Miranda’s defence!

3 05 2018

IMG_6372Miranda passed her MSc. defence on Friday! Here she is (right) giving her talk, in a carefully-chosen shirt patterned with cheetahs…

Both examiners were from Integrative Biology: Hafiz Maherali (who was also on her committee), and Amy Newman. Their astute questions had me writing down note after note for the paper Miranda and I plan to write next. And Miranda’s parents and fiancé Paul were also there too, bringing homemade cookies in a transparent but very tasty bid to sway the committee.

All went well, and below is Miranda, Paul at her side and surrounded by friends and labmates, having had a celebratory lunch at the Albion. (Sadly there were two absentees though: me, as I started having a migraine — quite unrelated to the defence! — that would last for another two days; and Andrea, whose cat Nito was ill with cancer). That evening Miranda and entourage then drove back home to New Jersey, before she hopped on a plane to do her corrections in the more glamorous location of San Francisco. It was a strange but mostly good day.


Mouse lab update

28 04 2018

Our mice have been here about a year now.  Middle-aged, a few have died in the last few weeks, especially (we think) the most stereotypic of the barren-housed DBAs; and a few others are barbered, like this whiskerless BALB getting a treat (below left). But most are healthy, still going strong and yielding us great data: enriched mice really are less aggressive, but only when at home (not in a test arena). We’re discovering fascinating things about the social recognition abilities of mice too.

We did have a Parvo scare recently, as this virus was found in collaborator Elena Choleris’ lab., but luckily our own mice are fine, and the giant clean up this prompted left the lab in ship shape (below right: racks of enrichments, including boxes of new replacement socks for their hammocks).

Horses can remember grumpy faces

26 04 2018

Lovely write up of a paper I’ve not read yet, from the ever excellent New Scientist:

Screenshot 2018-04-26 16.25.57

… and Emma’s big day has just happened!

25 04 2018

Congrats to Emma and John, and welcome to Eve, born a few days ago!


Miranda’s big day is coming up

25 04 2018

Miranda’s thesis, not yet bedecked with the traditional gazillion post-its, but all ready for her defence on Friday!


My favourite typo

25 04 2018

This lovely typo crops up regularly.

Or perhaps they really do mean “involving very bad curtains”?


UBC visit

23 04 2018

UBC welfare conf signI had a great trip to Vancouver (and Vancouver Island) last month. I’d been invited to speak at UBC’s Pre-veterinary and Animal Welfare Club, who were organising a symposium on lab animal welfare.

First, there was a good day with Dan, Nina and the welfare group, including a journal club on a paper I’d long meant to read (“Horses can learn to use symbols to communicate their preferences”: not convinced this is true communication, but still impressive how fast the horses learned the task). Next, the conference itself, which was was excellent. The other speakers were Joanna Makowska, Cathy Shuppli and Elisabeth Ormandy and the tiny bit of pre-planning we did made our talks fit together (almost disproportionately) perfectly.   Below, me looking vaguely Joan of Arc-like, and chatting with step-son Griffin who’d come over from his new home in Sooke.


(And I then had a two day “essence of BC” holiday next, seeing seals, bald eagles and an addict shooting up in a doorway, along with getting to fly in a seaplane).