JEB Symposium & Dropping in on Dr. Daniel Jackson

2018-03-30 09.01.25

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.

Summer Research Assistant Position


Interested in getting some experience in research? 

Want to paid full-time in Antigonish for the summer?  

There is an opening in the Wyeth Lab for a research assistant position for summer 2018.  The primary project associated with this position will be studying snail behaviour.  The research assistant will work with another student on the project, exploring how the snails move with respect to food odours.   Our larger goal is to better understand how  animals navigate depending on whether they are in slow or fast flow environments, with different kinds of prey present.  Practically, the research assistant will gain experience in general research skills, animal husbandry, data analysis in Excel and other software, video techniques (with GoPro cameras), image and video analysis.  Involvement with other Wyeth Lab projects will also occur.   Overall, lots of variety, and lots of problem solving!

Interested students should email a copy of an unofficial transcipt and resume to Dr. Wyeth, along with a short description of both career ideas and their reason for being interested in research.   Minimum requirements: currently enrolled StFX student (any year); 70% average of grades on transcript.

Review of applications will begin Jan 31, 2018.


Congrats to Alexa and Hannah – directed studies done & dusted

Both Alexa Nicholson and Hannah Stevens have finished their directed studies projects.  Alexa was working with antifouling options for aquaculture, and Hannah on the influence of light on pond snail navigation.  Both did a fantastic job on their final reports, and now have to let the research go (for a while at least) and focus on the last semester of courses in their BSc degrees.

Ella Maltby switches to lobster for her MSc

A big welcome to the newest grad student in the WyethLab.  She hasn’t come from very far!  Ella Maltby has wrapped up her work on our collaboration with Waycobah First Nation (studying antifouling options for their aquaculture facility), ending a year and half working on various projects in the lab.   For her MSc (co-supervised by Dr. Jim Williams), she will be studying the acute effects of sediment from Boat Harbour Nova Scotia (the site of a pull mill treatment facility) on juvenile lobster behavior.

James Research Chair

I am both honoured and excited to have been offered a James Research Chair to start in July 2018.  Two years of halved teaching load will be a big boost to the Wyeth Lab!  I am looking forward to the opportunity to expand existing research projects and hopefully building some collaborations as well.  Most of all I am excited at the chance to involve more students in the Wyeth Lab.