almost the whole WyethLab

Here’s almost the whole crew – travel schedules didn’t mesh so we are unfortunately missing Katerina and Sophie, but otherwise we’re all in the line!  From left-to-right…

And missing are…


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WyethLab, going with the flow

Presenting at CSZ in St. John’s

We’ve just wrapped up a great week at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Zoologists. Alex Young and Areej Alansari presented their snail research – on neural gene expression and navigation behaviour, respectively. Ella Maltby presented her work from the last couple years on ultraviolet light as an antifoulant. And Russell went in a new direction, sharing research on crow behaviour conducted by the 2015 and 2016 students in his 4th year Animal Behaviour course.

milestones, news, and more

Lots of congratulations to share…

Carmen Landry submitted the final version of her Honours thesis.

Amelia MacKenzie was awarded Holly E. Bartlett Memorial Bursary (in the StFX News)

Ella Maltby and Areej Alansari presented their MSc work in a split seminar to the Biology Department to widespread acclaim!

And RCW and Mar Wonham’s article on teaching the scientific method also was shared by StFX News (along with some nice comments from Carmen and others!)

Ella Maltby

Areej Alansari

Wyethlab at Student Research Day


Ella and Carmen

Unfortunately, I had to miss Student Research Day this year while travelling in Europe.  But the WyethLab was well represented!  Carmen Landry won the top award for oral presentations sharing her work on reference genes for qPCR in snails.  Although they didn’t compete for awards, I’m reliably informed that both Ella Maltby (poster) and Amelia MacKenzie (talk) did a great job with their presentations on antifouling research.

JEB Symposium & Dropping in on Dr. Daniel Jackson

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Lymnaea juveniles used for in situs

I have just returned from a quick trip to Europe.  The first half was participating in Journal of Experimental Biology Symposium 2018: Linking brain and behaviour in animal navigation.  Spring time in the shadow of Mt Olympus in northern Greece was a great place to meet and discuss the forefront of navigation neuroethology.  And then the second half was quick visit to meet up with Alex (Wyethlab MSc student) and Dr. Daniel Jackson at University of Göttingen.  Alex is visiting Dan’s lab to learn in situ hybridization methods in the pond snail, Lymnaea.  Some good conversations with Dan – hopefully leading to further interesting collaborations in the future!


Carmen Landry presents at Science Atlantic

This weekend, Carmen Landry (and two other honours students from StFX Biology) travelled to St John’s Newfoundland to present her research at this year’s Science Atlantic Aquaculture & Fisheries and Biology Conference. She, along with Alex Young, has been working primarily on establishing good reference genes to use with quantitative PCR so we can explore gene expression in the peripheral nervous system of gastropods. Congratulations Carmen for a successful first conference!

Publication! Teaching the Scientific Method


This has been a long time coming!  Almost 11 years since a fateful conversation at a picnic table at Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, Mar Wonham and I have just published our system to help students with their (scientific) logic.  The conversation topic was how to truly teach good scientific logic – something biologists do all the time, but rarely teach directly.  We ended up narrowing it down to two basic concepts: pattern and mechanism.  Starting from there, we have found that we can really help students generate good questions and hypotheses, and then design studies (surveys or experiments) to test those hypotheses and answer questions.  Along the way, we help stamp out fuzzy logic.  So, at the most basic level,  we are really just teaching critical thinking – which actually goes beyond teaching anything specific to science.

Wyeth, R.C., and Wonham, M.J. 2018. Patterns vs. Causes and Surveys vs. Experiments: Teaching Scientific Thinking. The American Biology Teacher 80(3): 203–213. doi:10.1525/abt.2018.80.3.203Link to PDF


Welcome back Amelia

Amelia with devices

After a couple months getting a feel for her new degree program, Amelia MacKenzie is back in the WyethLab.  She’s working part-time and going to be focusing on writing up some our recent projects: ultraviolet light as an antifoulant and (now for something completely different) crow sentinel behaviour.