Today I’m posting a piece I wrote for the latest NZ Entomological Society Newsletter on my collaboration with Science Learning Hub.
Even though its the middle of winter I’m still flat out with my PhD project – mainly because nothing is working so I’m scrabbling for any kind of progress I can muster! Here are some recent updates.
I started my PhD in October 2017 at the University of Auckland.
My supervisor is Associate Professor Greg Holwell. Greg is interested in evolution—particularly sexual selection—and uses arthropods to work on some of the biggest questions in this area. My co-supervisor is Dr Gonzalo Avila, leader of the biocontrol team at Plant & Food Research, Auckland. Gonzalo is interested in evaluating parasitoids for their uses in classical biocontrol programmes.
This post is a brief overview of the rationale and methods of my project.
New Zealand taxpayers should have access to the research they fund.
This is a good thing. The private sector lacks an incentive to fund research which will broadly benefit society. Taxpayer-funded research fills this niche by contributing to our economic prosperity, living standards, and environment.
But in order for research to have the greatest possible impact it needs to reach everyone who may want to use it: curious citizens, educators, journalists, NGOs and charities, professional organisations, entrepreneurs, volunteers, and local officials.
So why does everyone hit a paywall when they go looking for the results?
Update: This post is published on SciBlogs.co.nz here.
Studies on insect declines published over the last few years have thrown up some scary headlines. “The insect apocalypse is here” proclaims the New York Times, warning the pace of insect declines could spell catastrophe within decades.
It’s a grim picture, but how accurate is it?
Update: A condensed version of this post is published on Newsroom.co.nz here.
We may be alone. Our planet could be the only place in the universe where, over billions of years, matter became aware of itself. Despite the dazzling variety of life on Earth, all living things are united by the genetic material inside our cells–our DNA. These blueprints trace their own genealogy through all living species to converge at a single point in the ancient past. How do we make sense of the cellular machinery inside a single-celled bacteria, the cooperation within a colony of fungus-farming ants, and the camouflage abilities of shape-shifting squid? Perhaps a more pragmatic question: how do we ensure the survival of these plants, animals, fungi, and microbes on which our own survival depends?
We are only able to catalogue, classify, and understand living things on our planet because of the scientific discipline called taxonomy. Taxonomy is both the foundation of biology, and one of the most important collective achievements of biologists. And yet the funding, resources, jobs and prestige associated with this work have slowly eroded, so today we can see the bones underneath. Taxonomy is important, so we need to understand the challenges it faces before we me might nurse it back to health.
A good reference manager will save you countless hours of tedium and frustration. Students, researchers, and volunteers who work with references should all be using one. Zotero is my preferred option, because it is free, open source, actively developed, and solves many of the problems I’ve encountered during my work. In this guide I outline the way I set up and use Zotero for my PhD work.