• soapboxlogo
    21 Apr 2014 • News

    Soapbox Science Ireland

      Are you interested in science? From nano-materials to Martian landscapes, microbiology to neuroscience, immunology to ecology, chemistry to evolution, Soapbox Science Ireland has something for you. On the 26th of April (this Saturday!), Soapbox Science will join efforts with Trinity College Dublin’s Equality Fund and WiSER to transform Trinity’s Front Square into a hub of scientific learning and discussion. Some of Ireland’s leading female scientists take to their soapboxes to showcase science to the general public. The aim is to dispel the myth that scientists conform to the “mad (male) scientist” stereotype and to promote the [&hellip

  • Easterbunny_2
    18 Apr 2014 • Perspectives, Research

    The Easter bunny’s origins are linked with climate change

    The Easter Bunny apparently originated in German Lutherans’ traditions before 1682 when it was first mentioned in von Franckenau’s De ovis paschalibus. In France and Belgium however, it’s not a rabbit that hides eggs in the garden for Easter morning but flying bells coming back from Rome (they went there for their holidays since the Maundy Thursday). For many people this makes no sense at all (flying bells, come on!) but on the other hand I think that a bunny carrying coloured eggs and hiding them does not make much more sense… However, the Easter bunny makes [&hellip

  • Systema Naturae
    14 Apr 2014 • Perspectives

    A Rose by Any Other Name

    Carl Linnaeus has a lot to answer for. As a young medical student he became obsessed with botany, then a necessity as most medicines were derived from plants. At the time the naming of plants was a rather haphazard affair, some names were given to multiple plants, others could be many words long. It all made for great confusion and difficulty disseminating information. In an attempt to manage the situation, in 1735 he published the first edition of his masterpiece of classification, the Systema Naturae. Most people remember this book as being the first time that plants [&hellip

  • Beer_bottles
    11 Apr 2014 • Perspectives

    Hopsolete Trees

    One of the most unusual benefits of being in Ireland from a Southern French PhD student’s perspective is not so much the rain and the pronounced taste for culinary oddities (some weird, some excellent) but the awesome trend towards a new age of craft beers (and I’m not mentioning the pillar of Irish pub culture). Looking at the increasing beer richness available in any decent pub/off-licence, I was inspired to combine two of my passions: beer-related stuff and phylogeny-related stuff. Despite an honourable attempt by J.L. Brown, I would like to discuss the three reasons why it’s [&hellip

  • 479px-Abraham_Mignon_-_Still-Life_-_WGA15664
    7 Apr 2014 • Perspectives, Reviews

    And to the victor the spoiled

    Sometimes something is so obvious we forget to wonder why; why do our fingers resemble prunes when we over-extend our bath time, why don’t humans have a penis bone (stop sniggering in the back please and have a look at these fascinating links) and why do prunes rot when the very propose of fruit is to be eaten? I’m guessing that for the last one you might say that fruit rots because all the bacteria have decided that you have overlooked the healthy option for the biscuits one too many times and so have decided to chow down. However [&hellip

  • Kereru
    4 Apr 2014 • Perspectives

    Kapapo, Kereru and Kaka, Oh My!

    Before I moved to New Zealand birds were, well, birds. They were nice to see but I didn’t pay them much attention. But New Zealand is a bird paradise and as a biology student (I studied for my undergraduate degree at the University of Auckland) birds were the go-to exemplar of many biological concepts. With understanding often comes interest and I found myself increasingly interested in our avian friends, an interest which has stayed with me to this day. New Zealand is a unique landmass. It comprises two main islands (imaginatively named the North and South Islands) [&hellip

  • phd comics presentation
    31 Mar 2014 • Perspectives • 2 Comments

    Presentation tips: how to create and deliver an effective talk

    Off the back of our recent Postgraduate Symposium, I thought it would be useful to summarise some of the advice and criticism we received afterwards. These points are a mix of the feedback from our invited speakers, academic staff and fellow postgraduate students, as well as some of my own observations and preferences. While the majority of the information below is common knowledge and most people do their best to give a good talk, the reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect talk and there will always be room for improvement; that’s fine! [&hellip

  • Small Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec
    28 Mar 2014 • Research

    Echolocating Tenrecs

    I’m going to Madagascar tomorrow. I have all the essentials; insect repellent, tent, flat pack wooden box, bat detector, three metres of blackout curtain material… Not the most usual of packing lists admittedly but all necessary items for the trip ahead. I’m going to study tenrecs; cute mammals which are the subject of my PhD. I’m interested in convergent evolution between tenrecs and other small mammals. So far I’ve been focusing on morphological convergence – work which has involved trips to beautiful museums and taming the dark arts of morphometrics. The primary aim of my research is [&hellip

  • Pangolin
    24 Mar 2014 • Perspectives

    Pity the Poor Pangolin

    The pangolin is one of those lesser-known animals, at least in the West, most commonly seen as slightly dusty museum specimens (there’s one in our own zoology museum).  Yet across their native lands they’re well known and very popular. Unfortunately this popularity is as food and traditional medicine. Indeed, recently the IUCN released a report saying, of the Chinese pangolin, “they are more than likely the most traded wild mammals globally”. This statement came following the first international conference on the conservation of pangolins, held by the IUCN. There is a very real fear that the Chinese [&hellip

  • Fu Manchu
    21 Mar 2014 • Perspectives

    The Great Escapes

    I was looking through some of my photos from volunteering in Namibia which reminded me of Houdini, the incorrigible baboon, who, no matter the precautions and security, would frequently turn up inside one of the guest’s houses rifling through their suitcases. This made me think it’d be fun to have a look at some of the most dangerous, daring and seemingly impossible animal escapes from zoos and aquariums over the years. So many stories came up but these are my favourites: Fu Manchu This orangutan, a former resident of the Omaha zoo in the 1960s, was very often found peacefully reclining in [&hellip