Noodles again

Blast from the past photo of Dave doing fieldwork in Namibia back in 2001. We had to carry all our own food in to the fieldsite, so it was mostly noodles for tea, with a couple of crackers for lunch (I’m not sure Tom Tregenza – behind the camera – has ever been so hungry). The one not stuffing his face is Dan Hoare, who is Head of Regions England for Butterfly Conservation. BC is a fantastic charity, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, so if you love your butterflies and indeed any other bug or beastie, do please join and give them your support. I’m proud to say I’ve been supporting for more than 20 years!

Great to see Dan’s article in the latest Butterfly magazine too.If you would like to join Butterfly Conservation, please go here.

Au revoir et bon voyage to Cedric

Au revoir et bon voyage (in Dave’s French accent) to Cedric, who is sadly leaving us after his six-month internship. Gone but not forgotten, we have mountains of data to get through… so watch out for more than one paper with Cedric’s name on it! Good luck in your next position Cedric and thanks for all your hard work and collegiality.

Summer scholar

Delighted to pass on the news that Dani Black will be joining the lab this summer, and summer 2019, as a Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholar. Dani will be working on the bugs as well as experiencing leadership training (not from Dave btw!). More news on Dani’s progress later this year.

New Year, New Papers

Happy New Year from the Shuker lab! We wish everyone all the very best for 2018, hoping that it will be filled with joy, enlightenment, and lots of insects having sex (but mostly enlightenment, given the way of things at the moment).

In other news, two new accepted manuscripts to report. Nicki’s final transcriptomic paper has been accepted in Royal Society Open Science – this paper again confirms that adaptive sex allocation in our wasps does not appear to be associated with much in the way of changes in gene expression – no free lunch here gene-hunters!

And Emily and I have written a comment, now accepted for publication, on an upcoming review in Behavioral Ecology by Tinghitella and colleagues on the role of male-male competition in speciation. Whilst their review is a timely one, Emily and I emphasise that it will be females that typically have the last word when it comes to pre-zygotic reproductive isolation.

Well done team – great start to 2018!

Dr Greenway

Very delighted to say Congratulations! to Ginny who has just successfully defended her PhD thesis. Wonderful news, and very well done.

The only down-side for us is now Ginny will be off to Florida for a post-doc with Christine Miller – all best wishes and good luck for the future Ginny!

Censoring science (updated already!)

Normally I like to use the lab “News” posts for fun or good-news stories, but it is also important to highlight bad news or cautionary tales.

Here is a very serious story that is just breaking at the moment. Dr Jennifer Bowen from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, has been asked by the US Department of Energy to remove words such as “climate change” from a proposal abstract – Dr Bowen bravely posted a screen-shot of the email (below, and see also here).

Unsurprisingly this story has been picked up by Nature, Science, and other media outlets – I read the story first on the Observer website. The Nature article reports that at least one other applicant to the same granting call has also been asked to change the wording of their project proposal.

**UPDATE** David Walsh at Concordia has posted a very similar email, again asking for removal of the words “global warming”. That makes three so far…

This is the US, not North Korea or China. And what could happen there, could happen here in the UK. We need to be strong but even more so we need to be awake to threats such as this. Think about what is being asked here. I agree wholeheartedly with Michael Mann (famous Pennsylvania State University climate scientist) who tweeted.”Hey American Scientists. This should send a chill down your spine.” It should also send a chill down all our spines.

Because of this, I find I have to strongly disagree with the statement that Jennifer Bowen’s co-applicant Jonathan Sanderman is reported by Nature to have made in response:

Sanderman also lamented the fact that scientists are being forced to change the way they talk about their work. “But if that’s what it takes to keep science going for a couple of years, we will I guess play along,” he adds.

In fact, I’m afraid that statement disgusts me.

We should not play along. I will not play along.