Spring 2021

As my second term teaching BIOL 302 Evolutionary Processes remotely comes to a close, a few updates:

  • I am incredibly proud of the 302 students for all their hard work this term. It certainly has not been easy for anyone, but interacting with the students in live sessions, one-on-one, or through messages is what brought joy to an otherwise very lonely teaching experience this term. Hopefully some day I’ll be able to teach an entire course in-person…third time’s the charm?
  • Personal note: my brother and I lost our grandfather recently (we are cousin-less!), and not being able to see him due to the pandemic over the past year was awful already, but grieving from a distance and not being able to be with family following this has well and truly sucked. I am very grateful to all the support and messages offered; however, some interactions have reminded me that we often do not make space for grief and other personal circumstances in what we do. Sending a bit of love to all those who are missing family, have lost family, are seeing too much of family, have welcomed new family, and all other ways that our personal lives have been stretched and warped this past year.
  • My good friend and fellow PhD student Paul Boyce has launched a podcast called Talking Feral, in which he chats with scientists about all kinds of topics. I had the pleasure of recording an episode that was so long it got split into two, but you should check it out for the other episodes! https://talkingferal.com/listen
  • I am excited about some current collaborations on topics such as teaching during a pandemic, how we do long-term research, and some natural history work, and hopefully will have some results to share on those fronts soon.
  • I am now writing up thesis chapters on beast-mode, and looking forward to presenting this work at various virtual meetings over the summer. Stay tuned to find out when/where you can find answers to questions like:
    • Do early-life factors like birth date, litter size, or maternal ID influence how many cones a juvenile squirrel caches?
    • How fat are red squirrels really, and how does that compare with hibernating critters?
    • Is cone caching behaviour a heritable trait?
    • How does territory quality influence food caching success, and how does that relationship change with fluctuating food abundance?
  • Finally, a bit of good news – my submission entitled “Academia in Unprecedented Times” has won first place in the Research in Action category in the University of Saskatchewan’s annual Image of Research photo showcase & competition. I think the chaos of a home office (and home office mates) will resonate with a few people; I hope it won’t be long before I can see people in person, instead of through a grid of glaring screens! https://research.usask.ca/our-impact/highlights/images-of-research/gallery/2021/academia-in-unprecedented-times.php