As of April 1 I have joined the Caccone Lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Institute for Biospheric Studies at Yale University!
It was tough to say good bye to everyone at Queen's, but I am really excited to be returning my focus to the evolution and conservation of Galapagos tortoises.
It is a really exciting time to be working on Galapagos tortoises. One of the thought to be extinct species may have been rediscovered surviving in the wild! I will be analyzing DNA of this newly found individual and comparing it to the type specimen to confirm whether it is truly of the Fernandina species.
I have just returned home from a 2 week field course in Jalisco state in western Mexico! I was honored to co-teach with "los classicos" Steve Lougheed and Javier Salgado Ortiz.
We had an amazing group of 12 students from Queen's University and 3 from Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo.
It is postdoc appreciation week! Last night at the Postdoc Research Showcase at Queen's I gave a "Pecha Kucha" style talk about the BEARWATCH project. This was a totally new format for me, but I loved it! The idea is to present 20 images for 20 seconds each, with the slides changing automatically. It makes for a fast-paced talk, and your timing has to be bang on!
There were 7 postdocs giving talks, and it was great to see how others worked with the presentation format. They were all great, but serious kudos to chemical engineer Dr. Chaimongkol Saengow, who made his research on deriving the equation for bubble formation in foam so accessible and interesting!
Team Galapagos Tortoise has been very busy! There is quite a number of new papers that have come out in the past few months. If you look closely you will notice that there are 3 papers in the Journal of Heredity. These will all be published in an issue together with a tortoise on the cover!
Led by me:
Temporal Mitogenomics of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise from Pinzón Reveals Potential Biases in Population Genetic Inference, available from the Journal of Heredity
Population genomics through time provides insights into the consequences of decline and rapid demographic recovery through head‐starting in a Galapagos giant tortoise, available OPEN ACCESS from Evolutionary Applications
Led by Josh Miller:
Genome-Wide Assessment of Diversity and Divergence Among Extant Galapagos Giant Tortoise Species, available from the Journal of Heredity
Genetic Pedigree Analysis of the Pilot Breeding Program for the Rediscovered Galapagos Giant Tortoise from Floreana Island, available from the Journal of Heredity
Led by Stephen Gaughran:
Theory, practice and the conservation of Galápagos giant tortoises in the age of genomics, available OPEN ACCESS from Evolutionary Applications
I survived the back to back conferences of CSEE and NACCB! And manged to enjoy every moment, thanks to the super high caliber of presentations!
I met so many new people, and reconnected with old friends. I was really impressed with all the eDNA studies are going. Folks are doing great work with ground truthing methods and sorting out issues with biases in sampling and detection caused by conditions, time of year etc etc.
I really enjoyed the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution meeting this year in Guelph, Ontario!
The session I enjoyed the most was the symposium on Genetic Estimates of Population Size. There are so many neat developments to keep an eye on!
It was great to have such a large contingent from Queen's University, and many members of the Lougheed Lab attend.
Today the summer students cracked open the first boxes of polar bear tissues sets that had arrived from Nunavut. They checked over the packages to see what we would have to work with over the coming months. Looks like very good quantities of fat, liver, muscle and colon for each!
These samples are being housed and processed in our brand new Biosafety Level 2 lab!
I just got home from an amazing 2-weeks in Kenya! I got to tag along and support Dr. Steve Lougheed as he taught a field course "Biodiversity and Conservation in East Africa".
The students kept a blog during the trip that you can read here: http://kenya2018.sclougheed.ca/blog/
Long story short, it was a fantastic experience. I got to see a master field course instructor in action, and believe me, I was taking notes. It is now my dream to be able to share this kind of experience with students when I get to teach my own field courses!
This past week I had the amazing opportunity to take a break from normal science life and step into the world of science policy!
Science Outside the Lab North is a one-week intensive programme that brings together early career scientists (broadly defined) from across Canada to spend a week in Ottawa and Montreal learning the basics and not-so-basics of science policy in Canada. We spent the week meeting with folks working in policy from all angles, including those from government agencies, think-tanks, NGOs and academia.
My eyes were opened to how government really works, how policy is made and how policy directions are decided upon. Was it a 100% uplifting experience? No. But I learned a lot that will help me in the future to ensure that my work in conservation will have impact.
Plus, I made a bunch of amazing new friends working across fields that have this one thing in common: we all are determined to make a positive difference in the world using our science.
A week well spent!