Field of Science


So, it's been a little quiet around here for the last week or so. Mainly because I went from the state of having a PhD application sliding it's way slowly around the Gormenghastian admissions system to suddenly having a PhD conformation and a funding application deadline in very close succession. I spent last weekend frantically turning what was a 200 word project summary into both a 100 word abstract and a 1000 word project proposal.

Also A-level time is right on top of us, which means that tuitions momentarily went slightly haywire out of student panic. I now know the A-level chemistry course back-to-front, which is a bonus as I'd sort of forgotten bits of it during the course of my degree.

Anyway, the exciting news is yes I do now have a PhD lined up for next year! I have one years funding, and am trying to look for creative ways to turn it into three years funding. Naturally I am insanely excited about starting the PhD, and getting back into a lab. One thing I'll have to do is get all up to scratch on the reading list, having been out of the science scene a bit since January. Reading papers to me means blogging about papers, so stay tuned for a deluge of information about How Antibiotics Are Made along with the occasional interest paper about This Awesome Thing I've Found Bacteria Do.

And if you are neither interested nor excited in antibiotics then prepared to be deluged with me telling you why you should be :p

The Carnival is here!

The Carnival of Evolution has arrived at Lab Rat!

This is the 35th edition of the Carnival of Evolution, and I'm very excited to be hosting it here at Lab Rat. I love blog carnivals, I think they're a great way to share work and read up on all the people writing about a topic you love. Each carnival tends to bring up interesting posts by 'regulars' as well as random newbees, all with something fascinating to say.

Whats I find really interesting about the science of evolution is that it brings together so many people from different fields of study. Understanding and studying the common origins of species, and their diversification requires skills that range across multiple different types of science, so in this carnival I am going to celebrate the multidisciplinary nature of the study of evolution.

The Ecologists

Where would evolutionary science be without ecologists? Studying the nature behaviour of different species of animals has provided data about a wide range of evolutionary characteristics. Over at Neurodojo, we have an exploration of how a little Mexican fish has evolved to survive in high levels of sulfur, and why stonefish have evolved to be so venomous (and ugly!). We have a post from the creators of the "More than Honey" documentary about why leafcutter bees have evolved to chew on leaves and one from The Mermaid's Tale about the evolution of bird brains in urban areas. Jonathan Eisen brings us a photo-filled journal of his trip to Catalina Island to discuss the evolutionary implications for studies of life on the seabed.

The Plant Scientists

It's not just animals that evolve, plants do too! The Eeb and Flow brings us an analysis of a paper that looks at how competitive interactions in plants shapes the evolution of ecological niches.

The Computer Scientists

Evolution isn't just about fieldwork, there's also an appreciable amount of systems modelling involved, which requires computer competency. BytesizeBio goes through the creation of the "Methinks it is like a weasel" program, in a special celebration of Shakespeare's birthday.

The Microbiologists

This is my team, which is why I'm especially pleased that we have lots of nice microbiology posts this time around. Ford Denison explores a few different reasons as to why antibiotics might have evolved in bacteria. There are two posts from the BEACON centre for evolutionary research, looking at how the environment affect bacterial cooperation and how digital evolution can be used to understand host-parasite evolution. There's a post from It Takes 30 about how research into Amoeba's changed our understanding of the history of sex and of course one from me about social evolution in bacteria.

The Medical Scientists

There's a bit of an overlap between these and the microbiologists, but we have one definitely medical post from Genome Engineering, as to whether there might be a genetic and evolutionary component driving an increase in premature births.

The Archaeologists and Anthropologists

I am never totally sure about the true difference between Arch and Anth, all I know is that they both get very annoyed if you mistake them for the other one. So in the interests of human unity I've put them together. The Mermaid's Tale brings us another great post exploring the concept (and the movie!) of Deep Time, and how deep time in human evolution can be portrayed. Evolving Thoughts brings us further updates on whether BRIAN BLESSED can (or even should) be considered a monkey or an ape. There's also some further discussion of the Piltdown man from Genome Engineering.

The Social and Political Scientists

Evolution has never been just a matter for research scientists. Whether this is a good or bad matter is up for debate, but it cannot be ignored that there is a political dimension to the applications and even the teaching of evolution. At Political Descent there's a post on the teaching of evolution in classrooms - some of the historical reasons held by both camps might surprise you. Evolving Thoughts looks at the recent attitudes held by the pope, and attacks the belief that evolution is a "random" process. Finally, there's a lovely lyrical piece by e.m. cadwaladr with thoughts on seeing the statue of Martha, the last passenger pigeon in the USA.

That brings us to the end of this carnival edition. The next one will be the same time next month;go here to submit your posts and see how many more scientific fields we can cover in the study of evolution.