End of Winter 2018 Update

 

It has been 9 months since I’ve officially started my PhD, and things are starting to come together. I have been preparing for my provisional which will be in March 2019, and starting to test out a few ideas and methods.

In July, I went to the annual conference of the Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASSAB). This was a great conference to meet new people and hear some really interesting research happening across the region. I was also able to present my research from my honours project. I was also a session moderator for one of the sessions on the last day.

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The Holwell Lab Group at ASSAB 18: (from left to right) Erin Powell, Cass Mark-Chan, Chrissie Painting, Me, Melissa Griffin

 

On the 26th of September, I was one of four panelist for a workshop called “It’s all about making connections!” put on by the University of Auckland Faculty of Science Wellbeing Advisory Group. This was a great way to connect with other PhD students within the faculty and discuss common issues we all face throughout our degree. It’s an amazing feeling to realise that you are not alone, and that everybody else is going through the same thing. Often times, we isolate ourselves from our peers and we end up feeling like we are the only ones struggling to stay afloat. This leads to feelings of inadequacy, and that maybe we don’t belong. Talking about it all helps to combat this pervasive imposter syndrome we all face.

 

On the 24th of October, the School of Biological Sciences held a Showcase where first year PhD student (such as me) were required to do a 2-min presentation on their project.

Here is a clip of my presentation:

What’s more, out of 38 presentations, I was awarded first place among the presentations! It was definitely a pleasant surprise, and a proud moment for me!

For Halloween, my club BioGrad (of which I am the co-founder and secretary) put on a Halloween party for the School of Biology. This was a resounding success and was very well attended, with many people dressing up and connecting with their fellow postgrads. The theme was ‘Mad Scientists and their Crazy Experiments’. Obviously I went as a stick insect (this was a very last minute job, my next stick insect costume will be EPIC).

 

Fieldwork!

November is the start of the Summer fieldwork season. Last week my lab mate Cass and I went for two weeks of fieldwork, from Auckland to Wellington. We stopped off at Waharau, Pureora, Whanganui, Wellington, Tongariro and Cambridge.

Here is the fieldwork diary that I made during the trip:

 

I have a lot more fieldwork coming up (including a trip to Stewart Island!!!), and I’m excited to be able to travel and discover a bit more about New Zealand! I will keep you updated as I go!

 

PhD – April Update

I officially enrolled in my PhD on the 12th of March. My project is investigating camouflage and colour variation in New Zealand stick insects.

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I have spent the past couple of months out in the field looking for populations of different species of stick insect. I’ve also done field work to help out fellow lab members find their own insect species and help collect them.

 

On the 11th of April, the whole lab group went down to Whanganui to attend the annual conference of the New Zealand Entomological Society. There I presented my first ever conference talk (hopefully not the last!) about my honours project. I got some really good feedback, and it was a great opportunity to meet and discuss various topics and ideas with other entomologists.

The next couple of months will be focused on planning and trying out different protocols, and working on colour analysis and histology.

Here’s one of the beautiful beaches we went to while doing fieldwork in the north of New Zealand!

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And Cape Reinga!

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