Africa… What a magic place!

At the equator

At the equator

Martine Dolmière is the Faculty of Science’s Internship and Field Studies Officer, and helps coordinate our Canadian Field Study in Africa Program. She was so interested to see the kinds of things our students see that she recently spent part of her own vacation in Kenya and Uganda. Her hosts were Professors Lauren Chapman (Biology) and Colin Chapman (Anthropology), who conduct their field research in Uganda and also teach in the CFSIA program.

We left Montreal on a Wednesday evening. Flying through London allowed us to have a long lay over and to have a chance to hop on the tube (the metro) for a short downtown visit. We reached Entebbe (Uganda) 48 hours after leaving Canada.  As we were stepping off the airplane we were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the temperature was.  We rode to Kampala with Robert (our cab driver). On the way to the city we were stopped couple times by armed soldiers. Finally I asked Robert why so many checkpoints were erected on the road to the capital. The new elected president of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was arriving by airplane the same day we landed.  We passed his convoy as we were approaching the city limits. (more…)

Don’t Panic

Advice from Science Undergraduate Society President Neil Issar

Neil Issar is majoring in Biology with a minor in Anthropology. He is shown here with Martin Grant, Dean of Science. Photo: Owen Egan.

Neil Issar is majoring in Biology with a minor in Anthropology. He is shown here with Martin Grant, Dean of Science. Photo: Owen Egan.

For those entering McGill in September, you will begin walking on a well-traveled road paved with opportunities for learning, insight, and understanding. For those returning to McGill for another year, you know that the road is more akin to rapidly shifting quicksand, filled with impending deadlines, absurdly thick textbooks, and haemorrhage-inducing papers. However, for both new and returning students, I’m going to quote some straightforward words of advice made famous by Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. (more…)

Tweets from MARS

Dale Andersen

Dale Andersen

Alumnus Dr. Dale Andersen (Ph.D. ’05) recently undertook field research at the McGill Arctic Research Station (MARS) on Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut, with Dr. Wayne Pollard (Professor of Geography, MARS Director). Read Dr. Andersen’s updates: from the high Arctic to you via portable generators, laptop computers, and satellite connections via Dale Andersen’s Twitter page.

The 2009 Africa Field Study Semester

Tea plantation, near Kibale National Park, Uganda.

Tea plantation, near Kibale National Park, Uganda.

McGill’s 2009 Canadian Field Studies in Africa / Africa Field Study Semester program took place January through March. Here is the first of several postings from the field.

January 25, 2009 | We had spent the past week in Nairobi, Kenya at the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology attending a series of lectures on topics ranging from anti-malaria programs to urbanization challenges and beyond from local figures, as well as touring fascinating sights like the Kibera slum, home to 1 million dwellers, and Uhuru Park, the culmination of an enormous conservation effort of the past few years. However, we left Nairobi today for Kibale National Park in Uganda. Starting with a 4 AM wake up in order to beat the traffic crunch of 1.5 million people who commute into the city each day, we piled into our trucks and set off for the airport. After saying goodbye to the “Green City in the Sun” until March, we caught a short Kenya Airlines flight to Entebbe in southwestern Uganda. There we began the real part of our journey: A 6 hour bus ride to the Makerere University Biological Field Station in the National Park. The trip actually went by fairly quickly, with lush forests and rolling hills of tea plantations providing scenery for practically the whole trip. Along with a few rest breaks and a couple of crates of “sodas” (soft drinks for our non-American readers), it wasn’t a bad trip at all. The field station itself is fantastic, with beds and meals provided and wide open spaces for soccer or Frisbee. Located above a local village and surrounded by forest, it maintains a fulltime staff and several cabins for residing researchers. Tomorrow is the first day of classes here and it should be a great chance to get out of lecture halls and into the field.

Contributor: Kevin Barford

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