Don’t Talk So Good, Not Dumb.

By N. Zelt

Ever speak with someone and not understand a single word they say to you? Then their incomprehensibility leaves you feeling like an idiot, and the other person treating you like one.  Trouble communicating is a failure of both parties, not just the confused one.

Being a student at McGill gives me countless opportunities to interact with people from a plethora of diverse backgrounds. And while English may be an official language in many countries, only a little more than 5% of the global population actually speaks it. Even fewer than that speak English as their native tongue. The result: there is no small number of people in this world who don’t speak English, or don’t speak English well. That’s not even considering that we live in Quebec, where 80% of the population are Francophones. (more…)

Study better, not harder.

By N. H. Zelt

By N. H. Zelt

Finally, a graduate student. Bet that means I don’t have to study anymore, right? Bet that means I don’t have to know huge amounts of information by specific deadlines, right?. . .Right? Damn.

Fine, but if I still have to know things then I should at least learn things the right way. I read a lot of journal articles, there must be a literature on the best ways to learn things. Luckily, people study studying! So, let’s learn a little educational psychology. (more…)

Being digital humanists….

McGill GradLife instagram photo by @lyly.man

McGill GradLife instagram photo by @lyly.man

Before coming to McGill, I did not know what the expression Digital Humanities means. Now, one year and a half after, I’m focusing my research on this field. I presented it at the last Digital Humanities Showcase that this year took place at McGill on January 26th. It was not only an occasion to share my work with other scholars, but also an example of how this field has become paramount for the curriculum of any graduate student.

(more…)

Shots Shots Shots

By N. Zelt

By N. Zelt

Well, that time of year has rolled around again. That’s right, we’re getting into flu season. School’s coming into crunch time, working hard to get papers written and experiments finished up before the holidays. What could possibly be worse than getting sick at a time like this? So, don’t forget to get the influenza vaccine.

(more…)

Small World: Conference Season Begins

Last week I attended the Genomes to Biomes meeting, held right here in beautiful downtown Montréal. This was the first ever joint meeting of the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution-Société canadienne d’écologie et d’écolution (CSEE/SCEE), the Canadian Society of Zoologists-Société candadienne de zoologie (CSZ/SCZ) and the Society of Canadian Limnologists-Société canadienne de limnologie (SCL). A lot of acronyms for one meeting!

So what does one do at a scientific meeting? Well, for the most part, you talk.

G2B_Sucrerie

After the talks comes more talking. The closing banquet of Genomes to Biomes, at the Sucrerie de la Montagne, May 29, 2014.

 

(more…)

3 minutes to summarize 2 years

My master’s thesis is about 95 pages long. That’s a lot of information to reduce down to a two-page script that can be read in three minutes. But that’s what I did, along with 11 of the most inspiring young researchers I have ever had the chance to meet at McGill. It all happened on March 31st at McGill’s 3rd annual 3 Minutes to Change the World.

My fellow *amazing* presenters at 3 Minutes to Change the World

My fellow *amazing* presenters at 3 Minutes to Change the World 2014

(more…)

Sarah uses this

Read on to find out how you get a picture of a brain cell that looks like fireworks...

Read on to find out how you get a picture of a brain cell that looks like fireworks… Brain cell pic by Sarah Konefal. Fireworks pic from commons.wikimedia.org)

In January, Guillaume posted about what he uses to get stuff done.  I’m following that up with my own post about what I use, which will highlight some of the research I am doing right now. This will  include lots of pretty pictures like the one shown here!

(more…)

Scientific research: one for all and all for one

Science is a wonderful thing. Research is its means. Through our day-to-day research in our respective labs, we – graduate students, research assistants, associates and technicians, undergraduate students and even PIs – conduct research in order to understand the mechanisms underlying life, diseases, and things seen and unseen. From the study of submicroscopic matter that is physics to the study of celestial objects more than 109 times the diameter of the earth that represents astronomy to everything in between, science is everywhere around us. Anything we see, with an aided eye or not, is subject to one of the many sciences that encompasses our world. (more…)

Why I spend so much time on the internet

Internet Forever! (Image from: Allie Brosh at www.hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com) )

Internet Forever! (Image from: A. Brosh www.hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com)

This is a recycled post from my personal blog, The Bug Geek. I’m sharing it here now because it’s rather timely for me: I’m preparing a talk on this subject, with an emphasis on its relevance to grad students, for the Entomological Society of Canada annual meeting in about two weeks; it’s part of a special symposium entitled “From the Lab to the Web”. Also, it’s clear that McGill is one academic institution that is embracing online activities as an important component of learning, teaching, and outreach. These are exciting times, folks….


I’ll update in November with some tips and caveats for grad students. In the meantime, enjoy, and please share your experiences and opinions!

______________

During the course of an average day, when I’m working on any number of academic pursuits from my home office, I visit a bunch of web sites: library data bases, insect identification aids, online scientific journals, statistical software help pages, how-to lab/procedural pages, etc.

I also spend time on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Flickr and a big ol’ pile of blogs.

I’ve been thinking about the title of a talk I’d like to give. It would sound something like, “Why I spend so much time on the internet.” Lately, I’ve had a number of very interesting discussions with other grad students, faculty members, and online sciencey-folks about the roles and effects of social media on the way we think about science, do science, and communicate about science.

Let me be frank: I’m really, really excited by the buzz about the topic (Morgan Jackson provides a great round-up of blog posts at his blog Biodiversity in Focus ), not only in different social media venues, but also in more traditional, academic forums.

(more…)

Field season report #1: the beauty

Yours truly at the Arctic Circle - km 405.5 of the Dempster Highway

I’m back from my adventures in the breathtakingly beautiful Yukon territory, and can now proudly claim to have survived a trek up and down the infamous Dempster Highway!

The science was awesome and the the team I worked with was incredible, but first I just want to share the tourist-ey bits of my trip.

We landed in Whitehorse late on on Sunday evening; by noon the next day we were equipped with an SUV, RV (i.e., transportable lab space), groceries and protective gear (it’s bear country after all!) and were on the road with Tombstone Territorial Park as our goal for the first night’s camp.

The caravan heading north from Whitehorse on the Klondike Highway

(more…)

Science freedom: a British proposal

Elsevier parody poster. From thecostofknowledge.com

A crack may finally be appearing in one of the most serious remaining barriers to equality in the developed world.

Although much has lately been made of the divisions in our societies resulting from inequalities in wealth and social status, we largely ignore perhaps the most serious of all divisions: fundamental access to our knowledge about the world and its inhabitants.

The CBC reported today that the British government has announced it will make all government-funded research available for free by 2014, a move that is being speculatively seen as prefacing a similar EU-wide initiative. (more…)

A simple thought on scientific research in grad school.

Working on a project for years can be arduous, exhausting and unsurprisingly lead to many dead ends. Finding motivation in these tough times is an obstacle faced by most grad students. Recently, while mulling over a short conversation I had with a colleague, I realized one of the principle sources of motivation for grad student researchers. (more…)

Boundary, Scale, Object (Reading Groups)

The object of this blog entry is science and the humanities.  Approaching this object in such a broadly bounded way, such that I do not treat science/humanities as mutually exclusive separate entities, immediately defines the scale of my undertaking which is much too large to do justice in the space of 1000 words.

I am writing in response to Julian’s thought provoking piece on interdisciplinary work: http://blogs.mcgill.ca/gradlife/2010/10/19/interdisciplinary-work/

Our exchange revolves around a weekly lab discussion.  Each week our reading group, consisting of anthropologists, geographers and archaeologists, discusses a new topic led by a different person from the lab each week.  Last week we discussed complexity.

(more…)

Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.