Archive for January, 2015

New Year, New Understanding of DNA

New Year, New Understanding of DNA

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

It’s the time of year for New Year’s resolutions and improving oneself. As a scientist, there are always about a million things to do to become a better researcher, but this year my resolution, and the one I hope all our readers adopt, is to become a better science communicator. Whether this means tweeting better links or publishing more frequently, the role of communication in science can’t be overstated. You don’t have to be a researcher to engage in scientific communication either, and it can be as simple as mentioning something you read or heard to a [&hellip

Seven crucial academic skills parenting teaches you!

Seven crucial academic skills parenting teaches you!

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

Parenting and academia are not mutually exclusive states. Many academics are parents, we take on different caring responsibilities at different stages in our careers and take on more or less of the parenting responsibilities depending on our family situation. However, parenting is often seen as detracting from our ability to succeed in academia in the zero sum game of work-life balance. Yes parents* can be under significant time pressures and may have their mobility restricted, but the parenting skills we acquire through on-the-job training, constant practice, trial and error, research and pure luck can also help with [&hellip

One body one problem

One body one problem

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

You may have heard on the academic grapevine that I will soon be leaving Trinity College Dublin. As with all moves I’m both sad to be leaving, but excited to take on new challenges. I’ll be around until the summer, but now this is common knowledge I wanted to explain why I’m moving on. And also to make something else really clear – I’m not leaving because I dislike working here! The School of Natural Sciences (and particularly Zoology where I’m based) has been a fantastic place to work for the last three years. The staff are [&hellip

Pathway to PhD: should I do a masters degree or an internship?

Pathway to PhD: should I do a masters degree or an internship?

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

With deadlines looming for attractive PhD scholarships such as the Irish Research Council, current undergraduates often realise that the path to a PhD is somewhat opaque, with many different ways to get there. Finding a PhD is something we have covered already, but a question I often get asked is: do I need a MSc or can I go straight in, or what about an internship? There is nothing stopping you going straight into a PhD from your undergraduate degree, but it can be difficult to be competitive unless you have a flawless academic track record, or [&hellip

Predators: feathered friend or foe?

Predators: feathered friend or foe?

By EcoEvo@TCD | News, Perspectives

On Wednesday January 14th the Pat Kenny show on Newstalk radio station hosted Professor Luke O’Neill (a prominent Trinity College Dublin Immunologist), in a segment exploring the causes of the huge declines seen in European bird populations newstalk.ie/player/podcast. Comments from both Professor O’Neill and Mr. Kenny implicating raptors and corvids in these bird declines provoked a storm on social media. Every Irish environmental NGO has strongly condemned these implications. Professor O’Neill was not in possession of the full facts and has apologised*. Predatory birds are not responsible for severe declines in many bird populations [1] and here [&hellip

Ecology of religious beliefs

Ecology of religious beliefs

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

It is well known that your country of birth has a big influence on your religious outlook. That’s why Ireland is dominated by Christians whereas Iran has a mostly Muslim population. Your scientific outlook doesn’t escape from this either. For instance, it’s arguable that the idea of group selection is viewed much more favourably in the US than the UK. Turning back to religion, a group of authors have recently carried out a study on the ecology of religious belief. In their work they were able to predict the societies that believe in moralising high Gods by [&hellip

Career planning for PhD students

Career planning for PhD students

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

The Royal Society has published a new set of guidelines for managing the career expectations of PhD students in STEMM subjects (science, engineering, technology, maths and medicine). The publication was the result of a series of roundtable discussions held at the Royal Society with PhD students, supervisory teams and University careers professionals. This blog post from the British Ecological Society provides a good overview of the document and discussion of how it fits into existing career development opportunities for PhD students. With ever increasing numbers of PhD graduates and restricted academic jobs, academic careers are becoming the [&hellip

South Africa’s topsy-turvy seasons

South Africa’s topsy-turvy seasons

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

  It’s easy to forget that seasons work in different ways in different places. On a recent trip to Kruger National Park in South Africa, I was expecting to see European breeding birds. I was also expecting that South Africa would be enjoying a season similar to a European spring; a simple six-month discrepancy with the northern hemisphere. While I found the European birds, including Swifts, Swallows, Cuckoos and Willow Warblers, I found a rather different type of spring. South Africa has very short transition seasons (spring/autumn) and more extended hot/cold (winter/summer) seasons. Over much of South [&hellip