Sunday, January 30, 2011

Year 1, Semester 2, Week 2 Recap

A lot went on this week, most of which was productive.

GIS (Global Information Systems)
As part of my tool set, I'm taking a course in civil engineering on how to use ArcGIS. By the end of the semester I will at the very least know how to make and manipulate maps in the program. All of the projects for the course have to be posted on a website, so that was the first task: setting up my website. I really got excited about this and decided to set it up for more than just this class, but it contains a link specifically for GIS. Here's the link for my website! I completely blew off setting up the free web space provided to me while I was at Penn State, and in retrospect I wish I had used it.

The focus of this class is going to be "macroecology", which is simply a research method for describing general patterns in complex systems. I had forgotten at the time, but it's my turn to pick the reading for next week. We're also reading chapters out of James Brown's book, Macroecology. This class has a blog associated with it, and in addition to picking a paper to read, I need to write a blog post about the book chapter and the paper. That will be up later in the week.

I'm taking a class that is explicitly about blogging about topics in biology. Everyone in the course has to contribute on blog post during the semester and aid in editing those posts before they go up. We critiqued a really nicely written blog on field work in Peru. It was written in a narrative style, and I think by the time it is ready to go up it will be very polished. There is a link to the BioBlog on the main page of this blog as well as the UNM biology website. The goal is to produce a very professional style of blog. Readers can look forward to a variety of topics being covered: all written by different authors and all written very well. I need to write my contribution for class next week. The point is the have everyone in the class read it and make constructive criticism before it finally goes up. My post will be live in about two weeks.

I am teaching two sections of laboratory this semester on Thursdays at 8am and 7pm, for 2-hours and 50-minutes each. This week went surprisingly well, with the exception of one technological malfunction that was no one's fault. I'll be teaching about evolution and ecology with a heavy emphasis on the diversity of life. My morning students were really great, we had good discussion, and everyone was surprisingly chipper for so early in the morning. My evening class was much smaller and they were reluctant to talk or participate. They are going to need to consume some sugar or caffeine before that class, because I'm going to continue pressuring them to participate. I think that in general, however, we all got off to a really positive start. Let's keep the momentum going!

Grad Evolution
A classmate and I are leading the discussion in class next week on sexual selection. We have picked two interesting papers on allometry: selection for fin size in a species of female fish, and selection for mandible size in male dung beetles. The same student and I are also working on a project together: we have to analyze a data set and write a 5-page paper on our results. Felisa gave me some really great data, which we can hopefully use to do a really meaningful paper.

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