Still going!!

Hey guys, this is seriously overdue. I’ve been feeling guilty about not blogging since February, so sorry about that, and I hope you are ready for a full update!

Not gonna lie, the last 6 months have been the toughest and most intensive part of my PhD. This is the last part of my PhD, I’m aiming to hand in my thesis in December, do my viva (a presentation of all your results and work from your PhD to a large audience) early 2016, and then I guess moving on to new pastures. My PhD has taught me so much, about the animals I study and about the Arctic, but to a large extent about the positon of research in 2015, and the research community. I love doing research, but I truthfully believe that key aspects of how we do things, like the (often excruciatingly long) peer-review publishing process, and how the research community interacts with each other, could be so much better (for everyone). But you know, I see it changing, and now we have online peer review websites like Peer J where papers can be published so much faster, leading to getting citations faster, and often a lot more people reading your stuff. I’ve always looked for better and more efficient ways of doing stuff, and having come this far in science, I’d like to be at the forefront of making it just a bit more accessible and transparent, to you guys, as well as to us.

Labwork is now finished!

Labwork is now finished!!!

After I finish my PhD, and finally getting that certificate (which I think will become my favorite possession), I’m hoping to do a postdoc for 1-2 years. Postdocs allow you to fill in blanks that your PhD didn’t allow you to answer for whatever reason, or you do novel postdocs these days in science communication, at places like Vanderbilt Uni in Tennessee. That’s the direction I see myself going in. There’s an immense feeling of satisfaction when you find out something new in research, but as long as we aren’t communicating science enough, you haven’t done all you can. That’s how I feel. I’ve learned how to do loads of different things in my PhD, how to deploy sampling gears, how to become a good writer, how to organise and run a research project by myself, but I don’t think I’m in my element any more than when I’m speaking to audiences about climate change. Loads of people I meet are totally on our side about climate change these days, but there’s still a fair amount of confusion going around about several parts of the climate change story (thanks to the media and politicians), and that means it is down to scientists to clear up some of that confusion. I’m happy to do it!

But between now (August) and December, my main task will be writing up the thesis, which comprises three novel chapters: the first on the feeding of one chaetognath species during winter, the second on how two chaetognath species have different ways of living and surviving in the Canadian Arctic, and the first on the feeding methods of these two species, with arguably the most interesting results. The final chapter will show how even though these worm-like species may look kinda the same and can live in the same waters, they may consume/ingest very different things, and this is one way that they could occupy different niches and co-exist. There’s a wee bit more information on that in my Blog post called ‘ArcticNet Amundsen Expedition 2014’ (from October 2014), but for the full information, I think you’ll have to wait for publication, which hopefully will be soon!!

I also read some papers from Australia, where I’m also looking for potential places, and they said that chaetognaths (which are made of jelly) could actually be the main prey of fish and lobster species over there, during the young stages of their lives. There are cute fish like butterflyfish (below) which may hunt chaetognaths exclusively, and if that’s true, then the chaetognaths may actually be quite juicy and nutritious. We have a lot more work to do on chaetognaths. If any students coming out are interested in this, hit me up!

Do tropical butterfly fish larvae feed only on my gelatinous worms? Photo from http://a-z-animals.com/animals/butterfly-fish/

Do tropical butterfly fish larvae feed only on my gelatinous worms? Photo from:                                http://a-z-animals.com/animals/butterfly-fish/

In December, Sophie (my girlfriend of 2 years) and I will head back to Scotland to see the family, before jetting off to Cancun, Mexico for Moritz and Cynthia’s wedding in January. That’s going to be so much fun, I just hope I don’t get burnt like a lobster! By the way, feel free to check out Moritz Schmid’s website here (http://schmidscience.com/). He’s probably posting more than me these days, on different techniques we can use to answer ecological questions.

I hope you are doing good wherever you are!

Take care J xx

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