I graduated from Oregon State University with
B.S. degrees in wildlife science and psychology, interested in animal cognition
and using wildlife behaviors to help solve conservation problems. I’ve worked
on projects with wild rodents, mule deer, elk, tree swallows, violet-green
swallows, captive gray wolves, drafting a Conservation Efforts Assessment Plan,
and investigating canine understanding of probability.
I have also worked for the US Forest Service as a summer wildlife technician for two seasons, USGS and BLM as a feral horse and burro research technician, and contracted with the Oregon Department of Forestry as a marbled murrelet surveyor. I was accepted into the StFX Biology MSc program, and will be investigating lobster bait preferences and behavior around food sources. After I complete my master’s degree, I hope to move on to a Ph.D. in wildlife behavior and conservation.
It was was great to have a packed audience for this event on Fri Jan 18, 2019 sponsored by the Office of the Associate Vice President Research and Graduate Studies. Our thanks to Dr. Richard Isnor.
Abstract: In a recent article, “Patterns vs. Causes and Surveys vs. Experiments: Teaching Scientific Thinking,”The American Biology Teacher80 (2018), 203-23, Prof. R. Wyeth (Biology, StFX) and Prof. M.Wonham(Biology, Quest Univ.,BamfieldMarine Sciences Centre) argue that the hypothetical-deductive method is a tractable view of the modern scientific method as it provides the basic structure for students to conceptualize experimentalinquiry. By contrast, Prof. Byrne argues that the basic structure of experimental inquiry is inductive, rather than deductive, does not always require an hypothesis to be tested, and is not hypothetical in any interesting sense of this term. In this discussion,Professors Wyeth and Byrne will present their views on the place of the hypothetical-deductive method in modern experimental science. They will also consider the recent history of the hypothetical-deductive method, particularly its connection to Karl Popper,as well as its application to teaching the scientific method to university students. Given its subject matter, this talk should be of interest to all faculty and upper-level students in the experimental sciences, whether natural, social or medical.
And the outcome? Well, we both learned more about each other’s perspectives and we agree on many aspects of how science works and how the formal description of the hypothetical-deductive method (as laid out by Popper) doesn’t fit science very well at all. But there are points of contention, particularly with regard to exploratory science – where is the boundary with non scientific observation and do exploratory surveys have implicit hypotheses or not?
My name is Emmerson Wilson, I am a third year biology student at Saint Francis Xavier University and am working towards completing an honours in biology with a minor in economics. I have been working at Wyeth lab doing research on potential environmentally friendly antifouling treatments. My biggest passion is the outdoors, and so I spend my summers leading white water canoe trips throughout Canada.
Alex wrapped up all his revisions yesterday, and submitted his thesis today.
Expression Patterns of Neural-Specific Genes in the Pond Snail, Lymnaea stagnalis
Two and a bit years of hard work culminated in 5 total chapters – 3 of which are destined for publication. He used bioinformatics, quantitative PCR and in-situ hybridization to find patterns of gene expression, focusing on neurotransmitter-related genes in Lymnaea. Congratulations Alex on a fantastic achievement. Next up for him: some more work wrapping up those publications, and then hopefully off to start a PhD.
Areej Alansari has gotten caught between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Canada. She has to head home very soon. Fortunately, she has just enough data collected for her MSc on snail navigation behaviour, so she can now focus on writing up the thesis from a distance. We are all looking to give her as much support as possible so she can finish up her degree after investing so much into it over the last couple years. It was a fun send-off party (for biologists).
This summer, Kero continued our work testing the snail navigation behaviour towards food sources. His experiment focused how the animals performed in the dark but with water flow. That meant he had to first construct a cover in order to block any light from reaching the flow tank. Then 54 trials across 3 different treatments, comparing responses to tasty food (to a snail) to two control conditions. Then analysis of the video data began: transforming all the trials into videograms and tracking the different snails throughout out the trials.
Michelle Hodgson says: the beginning of the summer was filled with lots of reading and planning for the preparation of deployment. Katerina and I spent most of May and June in the Chemistry lab with Sophie preparing the siloxane-based surface treatments, while Sophie was away.
After the completion of our treatments, we were ready to assemble the frames that would house all 96 treatments. 1152 drilled holes and a countless number of zip-ties later, the assemblage was complete.
We initially planned to deploy our treatments on July 5th, but with a late mussel set, it was delayed until July 20th. While waiting to deploy, we had the opportunity to collect plankton samples in hopes to identify mussel larvae; which happens to be much more difficult than we had hoped!
Once all treatments were placed into the water, things merged into a regular schedule. Every week we traveled to the aquaculture farm to collect photos and monitor the progress of mussel fouling. Due to the late deployment, we will continue our collections until late September. After all the data is collected, we will be analyzing the photos to see which treatments are the most effective at minimizing mussel fouling.
This summer was jam-packed with lobster activities! Our field work consisted of lobster collections- both trapping by boat and SCUBA! In the lab Ella and Aaron prepared for future behavioural experiments with juvenile lobsters. This included preliminary tests (sometimes using infrared light and special GoPro cameras) recording lobster escape response (check out the great tail-flip below!), foraging, and predator avoidance behaviour. In anticipation of the incoming baby lobbies, Ella and Aaron also constructed a lobster hotel!
Russell spent most of July in Australia doing all sorts of science – snails, medusae, giant tritons, and Crown-of-Thorns seastars (and some fun encountering some southern biota outside of the lab, also). Much of the time was spent catching up with folks in the Cummins lab at the University of Sunshine Coast – working on manuscripts and providing advice to new students on their behaviour experiments. The International Congress of Neuroethology was also held in Brisbane, and our poster shared recent work by MSc students Areej Alansari and Alex Young on Lymnaeaas well as earlier work on Tritonia that involved a whole crowd of past students.
Russell C. Wyeth, Areej Alansari, Shelby Brown, Jane Fletcher, Carmen Landry, Ella Maltby, Kieran Murphy, Patrick O’Brien, Hannah Stevens, Alex Young. 2018. Neuroethology of chemosensory-based navigation behaviour in the aquatic gastropods Tritonia and Lymnaea. Internation Congress of Neuroethology, Bribane, Australia. Poster Link