Listing grants on one’s CV


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I was going through my semi-regular update of my CV because, frankly, if I don’t I won’t be able to keep track of everything! It’s as much for me as it is for others (and arguably more so these days).

Which got me thinking about grants, and how they’re recorded. On my CV, it’s a combination of year(s), project title, funding source, and grant amount. So far, all the grants that I’ve received have been one of two kinds:

  1. a grant / award for which I was the only applicant, like my two postdoc grants
  2. a grant where a small group (<5) of us wrote the application and got the funding

These have all been relatively small, bar our work on Northern Rockhopper Penguins, which was funded by the Darwin Initiative to the tune of £200,000, but where each of the five project partners is involved in just about everything. But as I progress, I expect more and more I’ll be just one part of a bigger piece of work. This inevitably leads to the question of how to list those grants.

I clearly didn’t have a hand in writing the whole grant, and would only be participating in a part of it (i.e., there will be funded activities and outcomes to which I know I won’t contribute, just because of the way the project was designed). So it seems disingenuous to list the full value of the grant (which, for these kinds of collaborative projects is likely to be in the £200,000-£1,000,000+ range). But equally, my specific part of the work package was part of the reason the project was funded.

So over to you, dear readers:


I’ll tally the results in a week or so.



The vast unread masses (or, tremendously unpopular posts)

So The Lab and Field turned 4 years old recently, and as someone not opposed to a little but of navel gazing, I thought it might be interesting to look at the least popular posts since 2013. This was also sort of prompted by a couple of folks who recently read older posts, and exclaimed (well, I imagine them exclaiming) that they’d missed it, or forgotten about it.

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the longer half-life compared to other online activities, like twitter or instagram (fun though those are).

So without further ado, here are the Bottom 10 from the last four years:

Friday scribbles: more abstract ideas

tl;dr – video abstracts are a nice idea, but do them well or not at all.


Taxonomic troubles

tl;dr – ornithologists need to agree a common taxonomy; the current system impedes communication & conservation.


Astrophotography as a gateway to science

tl;dr – taking grainy pics of planets & galaxies in high school was a major factor in getting me hooked on science. That and the US space program.


FAQ, and answers thereto (Christmas 2016 edition)

tl;dr – off-the-cuff answers to the frequently asked questions that people search, bringing them to The Lab and Field. The most recent instalment of this recurring feature.


Friday Scribbles: abstract ideas

tl;dr – suggestions for how to write an abstract, and a fun in-class exercise to practice!


The name game

tl;dr – Sign up for ORCID. Accommodate people with names that don’t conform to Latin alphabet first-name-middle-initial-last-name format. Science is international and multicultural.


Too many endangered tigers in Nepal?

tl;dr – human-wildlife conflict! Also, stop shooting carnivores.


The Brain Scoop

tl;dr – what can I say? I was an early adopter. Now a highly successful channel based at the Field Museum in Chicago. Yay Emily!


The science never says it all

tl;dr – this still breaks my heart. When your science goes pear-shaped, make what you can from the result. As John Cleese once opined during a lingerie shop robbery, “adopt, adapt, and improve”.


The Arctic Expert Test

tl;dr – 1970s scientists were sexist and culturally inappropriate. See also: Flow Clearwater.


So why have these posts garnered <100 visits each? Many are from 2013 and 2014, and from a time when I had more time to write (oh to be a weekly blog again!). Perhaps the subject matter is just too dull, or the titles too obscure. Perhaps my readership at the time was minute (indeed, it was). I think it’s fair to say that over the last four years, L&F has evolved a bit (fewer, but longer posts, and I think a trend towards more personal content). But whatever the reason, I’m still pleased with these posts, and I hope if you read them again, you will be as well.

In defence of gulls, skuas, and giant petrels


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I’m a lariphile. I love gulls, skuas, and their ilk. I think they’re gorgeous, intelligent, highly adaptable, and I will always have a soft spot for them in my heart. It will not likely come as a surprise to know that this is a minority view.

Gulls, skuas, giant petrels and other predatory seabirds (i.e., those that eat other birds) are often maligned, both in terms of management and in culture. They’re called flying rats, flying garburators, disgusting, and lacking in any redeeming qualities. So what? They can’t understand us, so presumably are immune to humanity’s slanders and insults. We, however, are not.


A Brown Skua (Stercorarius antarcticus) on Gough Island

Gulls, skuas, and giant petrels are seen as horrendous things that eat cute fluffy things which we see as being “better” (in an anthropomorphic sense) than these cruel predators. Newsflash: all birds are predators. None of them can photosynthesize, so they gotta eat. Fish, krill, squid, berries, dead things… you name it. Why then do we cast aspersions upon these species, but not the puffin when it eats herring, or the albatross when it snares a flying fish? Because flying fish and herring are cute and fuzzy and easily portrayed as defenceless individuals by nature documentaries.

Take the BBC’s Planet Earth 2 series, wherein skuas are shown haranguing Chinstrap Penguins on Zavadovski Island. A friend, mostly tongue-in-cheek, asked if the skuas had any redeeming qualities. Why should their foraging mode impact our evaluation of their “worth”?

Lest we believe this is an issue for far-flung islands of the Southern Ocean, consider the plight of gulls in North America and Europe (particularly the UK). They’re seen as pests, a nuisance, and in many areas were historically subjected to extensive “control” (i.e., culling). The result? European Herring Gull is now listed as Red in the UK’s Birds of Conservation Concern. I helped co-edit a special issue of the journal Waterbirds focusing on gulls, and in paper after paper we see the same thing – precipitous declines in both American Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gull over the last 30 years.


Four Great Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus) on Gull Island, Newfoundland

On Gull Island, Witless Bay, Newfoundland, for example, there were <30 pairs of Great Black-backed Gulls when I was there in 2011-12 (compared to 115 in 2000-01). In the last 15 years, the islands in Witless Bay have lost >50% of their breeding gulls (read our paper here).

So why aren’t we doing anything about it? Gull control still takes place (though now on a smaller scale than in the 80s and 90s), but if there was “control” of a rapidly-declining albatross, the conservation world would be up in arms. Because gulls are also seemingly ubiquitous in urban environments, they’re also seen as being common (so much so that multiple species are lumped into the highly inaccurate term “seagull”).

After a kerfuffle about a debate on gulls in Aberdeen that took place in the UK House of Commons, I suggested that the following question be a highly relevant one (for conservation and policy) for wildlife management/conservation students:

When it comes to gulls in the UK, it’s a question of how does one manage a threatened species that could easily get multiple ASBOs (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders)?

And this is highly relevant today, right now, because what we’re doing at the moment clearly isn’t working for the conservation of these species, or the public’s perception of them.


A Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus) on Gough Island

Just another example of how species’ ecology and behaviour influences our perception of their conservation need.

Another year of male-dominated NSERC prizes



Once again, NSERC (the national science and engineering funding council in Canada) has announced the winners of its prestigious prizes, which highlight the crème de la crème of Canadian science. And once again, the list of winners has an overabundance of Y chromosomes.

  • Herzberg Medal (“Canada’s top scientist”): man (only one woman has ever won this award, and it was last year)
  • Polyani Award: man
  • Brockhouse Canada Prize: 2 men
  • Synergy Award for Innovation: 4 men
  • E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowships: 4 men, 2 women
  • Gilles Brassard Doctoral Prize for Interdisciplinary Research: 1 man, 1 woman

If you’re keeping score, that’s 3 women and 13 men, or 19% women awardees.

Sadly, this is an improvement (yes, you read that right) over previous years (17% in 2015, 13% in 2014, and an eye-rolling 0% in 2013).

This year brings the overall total to 42 women and 252 men, or a maddeningly low total of 14% women awardees.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different outcome. When will NSERC act to improve the gender representation of women in the highest accolades of Canadian science and engineering?


Update: here’s a great graphical representation courtesy of Jeff Clements.


The locations of scientific meetings matter


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I think it’s fair to say that in the last week, there’s been quite a shift in the scientific community, or at least certain parts thereof, particularly in the United States. Yesterday’s Executive Orders restricting immigration, though temporarily stayed as of this writing, have rightly caused consternation among many. In research circles, this has meant difficulties for students, faculty, and staff who were travelling overseas, and restrictions on nationals of seven countries from entering the US. The growing anger within the US at this action has resulted in several scientists, many of whom I respect greatly, suggesting that professional scientific societies move their conferences and meetings to venues outside the US, or for non-US researchers to boycott meetings in the US. While these suggestions come from good intentions, it’s rather flawed and, if I might say, a tad hypocritical.

Regardless of where a meeting is held, there will be scientists who cannot or will not, for immigration reasons or reasons of conscience, attend. Hold meetings outside the US could mean some US-based researchers who are not US citizens might not feel safe or comfortable going, for fear of being denied re-entry upon their return. Hold it in the US, and scientists from those seven nations could be unable to attend. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But this is hardly something new.

I have a list of just under 80 countries where I will not travel, for work or pleasure. Places where being LGBTQ is illegal. Unlike nationality, though, an immigration officer can’t look at me or my paperwork and decide whether I’m queer or not. But the fact remains that, regardless of whether its enforced or not, it’s illegal for me to be me in a sizeable chunk of the world. So if your conference is in Indonesia, Kenya, or Barbados, it’s a non-starter: I’m not going.

Last summer, I wrote about how the Animal Behaviour Society passed a resolution to not hold meetings in North Carolina in response to that state’s anti-trans “bathroom bill”, but at the same time the world’s biggest marine science conference, the IMCC, announced that it’s 2018 meeting would be in Malaysia *, which is on that list of 80 or so countries. Yet where was the concern? The showing of solidarity with scientists who would be affected by holding a scientific conference in such a location?

Some have argued that since these laws aren’t (apparently) enforced, or often aren’t (apparently) applied to foreigners that it would be ok for queer folk to go to conferences in some of these places. F&$# off. Unless you’ve ever had to hide who you were for fear of detention or physical & mental harm – often for years or decades – you have no idea how idiotic that sounds, and how unhealthy it is. Everyone makes their own decisions affecting their personal safety and based on their personal values, and I’ve made mine.

Rather than relocate meetings, societies need to ensure that all of their members can participate. Why, for example, is it still so difficult to allow members to participate by video-conference? It’s 2017 for goodness sake.

No matter where scientific societies hold their meetings, there will be scientists who will not or cannot attend. The sooner we recognize this, the sooner we can work towards a more equitable culture, in science and beyond.

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*The folks at IMCC have engaged on this issue, indeed far more than any other conference I’ve heard from, but the fact remains: being gay is illegal in Malaysia.

In praise of researching (and publishing) “local” conservation science


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If you’ve published a scientific paper in a journal, you’ll know that part of the challenge is making it relevant to a broad audience. Why should a conservationist in Outer Mongolia, Zambia, Murmansk, or Baton Rouge care about your study? Chances are they study )or are concerned with/interested in) different species in different places. The pressure, therefore is to wrap much of our conservation science in global policy and priority frameworks: the Aichi Targets, multilateral environmental agreements, globally threatened species, or highly imperilled habitats. Which is good and fine and has resulted in lots of policy relevant science and conservation action.

But conservation also operates on a much smaller, more local scale, and with individuals on the ground in communities who can influence local, regional, and national policies and conservation actions. And this requires the science underpinning these actions to be, at least in part, local in nature. Sure, we all know that global warming is driving our planet further down the 6th Great Extinction, but most people will only take action when they see this manifest in their own backyards. Why have the doves returned a month early? Where did all the swifts go? Weren’t there fish in this lake?

And this is where “local” conservation science comes in. And it’s some of the most rewarding science with which I’ve been involved, even though it can be some of the most difficult science to publish. Providing the evidence base for local problems gives scientists and conservationists a better bargaining chip when holding governments to account, to speaking with the public and with media. A local story is usually more relatable than one from a seemingly abstract land far away.

Local conservation needn’t be novel, ground-breaking, cutting-edge, or revolutionary. It’s purpose is rather different, though from an implementation perspective just as important (if not more so). But this very nature makes it a more difficult problem for academic researchers to tackle as it’s unlikely to be of global significance, gain copious citations, or end up in a journal with an impact factor >4. It therefore often falls to scientists in government agencies, independent researchers, and non-governmental organizations to contribute to this science.

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a couple of these kinds of studies, and have a few more in the pipeline. We showed migratory patterns and geographic distribution of a Flesh-footed Shearwaters in the northeast Pacific Ocean (Bond & Lavers 2015), and described the current status & threats facing Streaked Shearwaters in the Korean peninsula (Hart et al. 2015). In these papers, we learned a heck of a lot about the species involved, and hope that these will become go-to papers when someone compiles details into whole-species assessments of status, distribution, and threats.

Overall, the key to success with local conservation science is the involvement of local people. The paper on shearwaters in Korea was only possible because of people in Korea. The same is true of the other (as yet unpublished) bits of work I’m involved with. These local connections make the work more likely to be well received (if received at all) by the people who matter (those who will enact policy or implement conservation interventions on the ground). The days of colonial science, where outsiders (often from the UK, US, or other countries with an advanced state of scientific inquiry) come in, do something, leave, and then issue what amount to scientific edicts (which are often promptly ignored) are over (or at least should be).

But, for me, the bottom line is that I find this kind of science fun. It’s adding a piece to a puzzle, and I find it very rewarding, especially when it’s highly driven by local collaborators (I usually just provide some stats, and editing… they do the real work of data collecting, and then working with the community to influence change). And at the end of the day, I like to think that it has some benefit for the species and sites we’re trying to look after.

2016 by the numbers


It’s time once again for my annual round-up of science, and science blogging by the numbers. You can also read the 20132014, and 2015 editions.


The number of posts on The Lab and Field this year, which is low, but I found that blogging took more energy/effort this year than I had to give.

The most popular posts this year were:

  1. Personal academic websites for faculty & grad students: the why, what, and how
  2. Landing an academic job is like an albatross
  3. Beware the academic hipster (or, use what works for you) UPDATED
  4. Volunteer field techs are bad for wildlife ecology: the response
  5. How did we learn that birds migrate (and not to the moon)? A stab in the dark
  6. The advantages of Google Scholar for early-career academics
  7. Languishing Projects
  8. Why the #LGBTSTEMinar succeeded & was needed
  9. I am not an academic (for now)
  10. Manuscript necromancy: challenges of raising the dead

I’m always amazed that a blog post about how to build a basic website is still, by a long shot, the most popular post year after year. It had >3x more visitors than the next most popular post. Go figure!

31,905 (give or take)

The number of page views this year. Good heavens you people, don’t you have anything better to do?


The number of countries/autonomous regions represented by those readers. Wow. About a third of visitors were from the US, with >4000 from each of Canada and the UK. Shout out to the one visitor this year from Bolivia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Samoa, Honduras, Jersey, French Polynesia, Montenegro, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Senegal, Cambodia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Curaçao!


Days I spent in the field, the shortest time of any year where I’ve had field work. All done on Lord Howe Island, Australia, which I hope to return to in 2017.


The number of new papers published this year, up from 10 last year thanks to some exceptionally productive co-authors! A bunch of these were also from a Special Issue that I co-edited, and that took much longer than anyone expected (2.5 years).


The number of co-authors I had in 2015.


My Gender Gap for co-authors in 2016 (the ratio of female:male coauthors). A step up from last year (0.29), but far from parity.

Heaps (metric)

The number of brilliant people from Twitter that I’ve met in the last 12 months, mostly at conferences like the LGBT STEMinar, at ornithology meetings in Edinburgh and Barcelona, or because we both happened to be in the same place at the same time. Lots of connections strengthened, much laughter, and a few collaborations, too. And tea.

8 (maybe 9)

Number of graduate/honours students I’m co-supervising in 2017. Certainly wouldn’t be possible without the university-based supervisors spread across the UK, Canada, and Australia. This is largely a new adventure for me, and I’m sure there will be peaks and valleys. Or perhaps swings and roundabouts.


Number of staff I was involved in recruiting this year, from seasonal posts to 2-year positions. Let’s just say I’ve gotten to know our HR department rather well lately. But I’ve also had a chance to see what makes a good interview (from both sides), which has been rather instructive.


Number of emails I sent in 2016. That’s roughly 21/day (or 34/working day). Some were long, others much shorter. This is the first year I’ve kept track, officially. The volume of email is something I struggle with this most in my day-to-day job, and I highly recommend this post by Meg Duffy over on Dynamic Ecology for strategies to cope. I will try to send fewer emails in 2017.


New countries visited this year: Germany, Spain, Switzerland. Or 4 if you count Wales.


2016’s been a tough year for a lot of people, me included, for reasons that can’t be put into numbers. Let’s all look after each other in 2017.

Reading 365 (or, rather, 230) papers a year


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A couple of years ago, a number of scientists on Twitter decided to try and read 365 scientific papers in a calendar year. Joshua Drew summarized his efforts and results quite well, and Jacquelyn Gill provides a great introduction to the motivation for “365 papers” (among other efforts) on the Contemplative Mammoth. And over the holiday break, as I was sorting out my “To Read” folder, I realized that it was getting rather full, and I needed a strategy to get that number down from about 972 to something more… manageable.

I think this is a neat idea, and by joining together with others completing the same goal can act as encouragement (something we use with Shut Up and Write sessions), but it can also make those not participating feel guilty about not keeping on top of their own “To Read” lists. The Twitter hashtag #365papers also explicitly implies that all 365 days of the year are available for work, which is far from the truth. At my organization, we budget for 230 working days in a year, which accounts for weekends, statutory/bank holidays, annual leave, and other non-work days (e.g., professional development). So I’m going to try for #230papers.

The astute among you will have noticed that 230 < 972, and there’s a very high probability that papers published in 2017 will be of interest to me, so it’s certain that my “To Read” folder won’t shrink by much.

972 > 230

It turns out that 972 is not less than 230.

So in addition, I’m adopting a ruthless culling approach: if I can’t remember why I downloaded the paper after reading the abstract, I’ll delete it (unless it appears to have taken some effort to obtain, or is from an obscure source).

I’m also hoping this will also kick-start my blog posts this year, which have lagged of late. I certainly won’t write about every paper, but I’ll post a list of papers and monthly tallies below for those playing along at home, and I’ll try to tweet links periodically with the #230papers hashtag.

Here’s to a brain-expanding knowledge-assimilating 2017!

See the full list here.

Astrophotography as a gateway to science



Doctor PMS on Twitter pointed out a news release about a paper that use astrophotography as a “gateway to science” at the university level, which reminded me that as a wee lad in high school in the late 90s/early 2000s, we did quite a bit of astrophotography (which involved some creative arrangements of sitting in a car, or a basement, and not freezing to death in the Canadian winter).

What enthralled me at the time was that one could, relatively easily, see things like the rings of Saturn, or the Orion nebula, or the red spot on Jupiter. Recall that this was at a time when it would take hours to download a music album, and the print magazine was still the king in terms of photography.

So while I’m fairly sure I would have ended up in science regardless, those cold nights were the first time I can recall the spark of scientific discovery, even if what we had “discovered” had actually been done hundreds of years before, with much simpler equipment.

Here are a selection of images from the Riverview High School Science Club / Astrophotography@RHS / Saturn Labs [so named for the make of car we would hide in to prevent frostbite]. The images were taken in black & white, and we added some artificial colour.

Saturn and its moon Triton

Saturn and its moon Triton



The lunar surface

The lunar surface

Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)

Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)



Orion Nebula (M42)

Orion Nebula (M42)

Jupiter and some of its moons

Jupiter and some of its moons

FAQ, and answers thereto (Christmas 2016 edition)


The latest in bizarre search terms, and slightly facetious answers. Whatever your motivations for visiting The Lab and Field, I hope the holiday season treats you well.


Labrador duck sightings

None, since at least ca. 1878.


birds migrate to the moon

We thought they did, but turns out they don’t. Also: early diet studies of birds clearly overestimated the contribution of cheeses.


scientistseessquirrel blog

That’s Stephen Heard’s blog you’ll be after then.


lab management is a diverse field. i am interested in learning what fields of lab work you have done or …

Googling interview questions is always prudent.


dead parakeets

It’s passed on. This parakeet is no more! It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker.This is a late parakeet. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies. It’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parakeet.


the job search never ends



post-doc never ends

It can sometimes feel that way. See also above.


oedsex m

You want to do what?


define lunar migration

When the moon follows the seasonal resource pulse across the celestial landscape.


i’m a science student but i am doll my solution

I first read this as “I’m a science student, but I am a doll, here is my solution”, which I sort of imagining is an advice article for mannequins into botany or quantum physics.


benefits for being a google schollar

Free spell check?


if i were a bird,i would fly to the fact

Doubtful, but keep reaching for the stars!


research seminar sucks life

They often do. But you can fix them!


nserc gives priority to women

Pretty sure you’ll find they don’t.


#917248324497 kiska no h

How did this bring you to my site?!




i have a gay colleague in the lab

How fabulous!


how to use magic to excel in academia

As in the card game? Or as in the Harry Potter-type of wizarding? Because the answers will be rather different.


laboratory #4 answers

A, C, B, D, A, Yellow, subdermal, and hoatzin.


single bird with name

Lauren. She enjoys long flights by the beach, sunflower seeds, and migrating like nobody’s watching.


fluffy backed tit babbler

You called?