, , ,

A unique experience for the mosquito enthusiast – FMEL’s mosquito identification course 2014

The following is a guest post by Memorial University student Andrew Chaulk. Andrew is looking into mosquito ecology an biodiversity . He recently attended a short course offered by the University of Florida’s FMEL in Vero Beach. 

 

Just off a main road running through a small town in Florida, a small group of enthusiastic folks, both local and foreign, sit focused. Eyes trained on minute hairs, scales, and a plethora of other physical traits, we worked diligently; all of us training to identify the 174 species of mosquitoes which call North America home. What brought us all together? The advanced mosquito identification and certification course offered by the Florida Medical Entomology Lab in Vero Beach, Florida.

toxo

Toxorhynchites, one of the “good guys”. These mosquitoes won’t bite you, and their larvae are predators on other container-inhabiting mosquito larvae. Photo by Andrew Chaulk.

First offered in 2000 as a training course for mosquito control personnel in Florida, the course has since opened its doors, inviting students from across the United States and internationally. This year’s class comprised of 21 students, four of which were Canadian (including myself, Kate Bassett – a fellow Master’s student, and our supervisor, Dr. Tom Chapman), and one student had travelled all the way from Nigeria to receive this internationally recognized accreditation.  Led primarily by Dr. Roxanne Connelly, a Louisiana born entomologist who specializes in mosquito biology and mosquito borne diseases, the course is the only one of its kind and covers the principles and skills needed to identify all known mosquito species in North America north of Mexico in a fast-paced and in-depth manner. The taxonomically based course is divided into two sections, with the first week covering adult mosquito keys, and the second, taught by retired entomologist George O’Meara, covers the larval keys.

class

George O’ Meara leading the class. Photo by Tom Chapman.

Having come all the way from St. John’s Newfoundland, we arrived in Vero Beach to a wonderful break from our typical early spring weather. The course, which ran from March 3rd to 14th, began with some brief introductions and a tour of the FMEL property before getting down to business. Each section of the course comprised of four days of instruction and practice with the keys followed by one morning of exams – one written and practical exam per section. The in class material was often broken up by opportunities to use a wide variety of mosquito collection methods. Demonstrations were also provided concerning methods of specimen preparation and during one such demonstration I was even given the opportunity to show the class how minuten pins are used since this method is not commonly used at the FMEL. Overall, while the learning curve for the course was rather steep and the instruction fast paced, there was an interesting combination of anxiety and comfort brought about by the very friendly and supportive atmosphere which I think created an excellent learning experience.

 

trap

Greg Ross demonstrates some of the trapping and surveillance equipment, including lard can traps and CDC light traps. Photo by Andrew Chaulk.

Reflecting on my experience after returning to the snowy St. John’s, one unexpected yet valuable aspect of the course I took home with me was learning about the variety of backgrounds my peers had come from and how these all culminated in our taking the course together. From graduate students to naval officers, and mosquito control employees to research and medical scientists, our class was quite an interesting mix. While the foundation for my own interest in mosquitoes stems from my work for a graduate degree in biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, I now have a much broader perspective on the amount of effort and resources that are invested in mosquito research and control.

specimens

Students work with FMEL’s teaching collection, which is extensive. Photo by Tom Chapman.

Taking everything into account, I see this course as being one of the most valuable experiences of my graduate experience to date. Still in the first year of a Master’s degree I am working on a project centered on the mosquitoes of our province. I am concerned with questions surrounding the biodiversity of these insects in our province, their ecology and behaviour, as well as identifying possible introduction pathways of novel species. Being able to see firsthand what the results of research in this area can develop into has provided perspective for my own project and also has given me ideas of where my research can take me in the future. My expectations for this course were well exceeded and I would recommend this course to anyone who is working with these insects in any aspect.

If you would like some more information concerning course content and registration for next year’s class please visit here.

, , , , ,

More than a meeting – Workshops at JAM 2013

This year’s Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of Canada and Ontario is shaping up to be the event of the century, or perhaps more correctly, a Sesquicentennial Event, as the ESC & the ESO are celebrating their 150th birthday! While all the usual JAM events will be taking place (like Plenary Sessions with exciting invited speakers, student presentations & posters, a whole suite of special symposia, and plenty of social events to unwind in the evenings), this year will also see the expansion of training workshops for not only meeting attendees, but also the public!

This year, the ESC and the ESO will be holding 3 workshops which we invite entomologists and insect-lovers alike to register for, and which will be held before, after and during the ESC-ESO JAM 2013 in Guelph, from October 19 to 24, 2013.

—————–

UP CLOSE: Insect Photography with Alex Wild – Oct. 19, 2013 – University of Guelph Arboretum Centre ($65 registration fee)

Come spend the day learning how to improve your insect macrophotography skills with Alex Wild. This full day workshop (9:30a-4:30p, lunch provided) will help you take better photos of insects, both in the lab and in the field. For more information, and to learn how to register, please visit the workshop website here. Space is limited, so register today!

Alex Wild Guelph Photography Workshop Poster—————–

CFIA Regulated Plant Pests Identification Workshop – Oct. 22, 2013 – University of Guelph, Graham Hall Rm 3309 (Free Registration!)

Come learn about the 69 plant pests whose movement is legally regulated by CFIA. First, a brief introduction to what such regulation means for people who move insects and goods. Then, most of the workshop will be a hands-on session with microscopes (20), specialists (3), and specimens of species of: mites (2), beetles (18), flies (4), Hemiptera (5), Hymenoptera (2), moths (29), and snails (9). This is meant to get participants the information that they most need: we will help you get
to know the regulated pests that are most relevant to your work. Please register with hume.douglas@inspection.gc.ca to secure your space. More information is available on the ESC-ESO JAM website, but space & microscopes are limited so register early.

—————–

Emerald Ash Borer Workshop – Oct. 24, 2013 – University of Guelph Arboretum Centre (Free Registration!)

This workshop is intended for all those interested in the management of emerald ash borer.

The morning session will review current tools and techniques for the management EAB, including a presentation on the risk assessment process in Canada. Other speakers will provide case-studies of their response to EAB in municipalities in Southern Ontario, and on the management of wood from infested trees.

The afternoon session will be round-table discussions among all participants. These discussions will include: what future research is needed to manage emerald ash borer, what questions about the beetle are still unanswered, and what are the challenges to implementing current management techniques. The goal of the afternoon session is for you to provide feedback to the research community on where effort needs to be directed as the emerald ash borer enters its second decade in Canada. There is no charge to attend this workshop, but space is limited. For more information, and to register, please see the workshop flyer on the ESC-ESO JAM Website (PDF).

—————–

Grant Writing: Success in Preparation – October 20, 2013 – University of Guelph Rozanski Hall

This workshop is still in development (check back soon for details), but will be held Sunday, Oct. 20 from 9:30a-11a, before the Opening Ceremonies and Plenary Session. Designed for entomologists at all stages of their careers, from students to post-docs, and early career researchers to tenured professors, we hope this workshop will help get you all set for your next grant writing session. Free & open to all meeting registrants!

—————–

Lunch Workshops

We’ll also be hosting several other workshops over the course of the meeting for registered attendees, including workshops on bringing social media into your lab, teaching in entomology, and how to prepare a CV or Resume. These workshops are for meeting attendees only, and will be held daily over lunch break (your lunch is provided with meeting registration this year).

If you haven’t registered for the ESC-ESO JAM yet, there’s still time to do so online (expires October 6). We hope to see you in a few weeks time at the 2013 ESC-ESO JAM in Guelph!

, , , ,

L’univers des insectes aquatiques

Vivez une expérience audio visuelle hors du commun en compagnie du conférencier Étienne Normandin. Musiques, sons et vidéos de la BBC et de « Bugs of the underworld » sont au menu dans le but d’émerveiller vos sens à la beauté et à la fantastique entomofaune aquatique.

Les insectes aquatiques ont été les premiers insectes à apparaître sur la Terre, mais aussi les premiers à utiliser la voie des airs. Dans cette conférence dédiée à un public de tous âges, vous en apprendrez plus sur les particularités des insectes aquatiques ainsi que leurs comportements. Ces insectes peuvent être de fameux architectes, des pêcheurs habiles et d’excellents chasseurs. Ils sont aussi très importants pour l’écologie des plans d’eau et sont de bons outils pour les biologistes.

2 novembre 2012, 19h00

Jardin Botanique, IRBV, Local 354

link: www.aeaq.ca
page facebook: Association des entomologistes amateurs du québec
groupe facebook: Association des entomologistes amateurs du québec

, ,

Dear Buggy: Writing your first manuscript

Dear Buggy is the the alter-ego of Dr. Chris MacQuarrie, a research entomologist with the Canadian Forest Service. You can ask Buggy questions of your own on Twitter @CMacQuar.

—————————-

Hello all,

Writing your first manuscript can be difficult. I remember spending a ridiculous amount of time preparing the first draft of my first paper. I thought I had produced something pretty good. So imagine my surprise when the file came back from my supervisor dripping in red ink (digital red ink, that is).

I had two big problems. First, like many new students, I didn’t make a particularly convincing argument in my introduction, my methods were confusing, the results were a mess and the discussion was meandering. My second problem confounded the first. I wasn’t a good writer.

Solving the first problem was easy. I had two very patient supervisors who taught me how to write a scientific paper. Solving the second problem is taking a little longer, because the only way to become a better writer is to practice. That is, you need to write. I write as much as I can, but I still have a lot of work to do. I’m lucky that I’ve had the good fortune to work with good writers and good editors from whom I’ve managed to learn some good habits (and break some bad ones).

The rest of my education has come from books. I thought I’d share some of these with you.

Books about writing in science:

How to write and publish a scientific paper 6th ed. by RA Day and B. Gastel

This is an excellent primer on how to write a scientific paper and should be on the bookshelf of every grad student.The 6th edition is a bit pricey, but you might be able to pick up a copy of the 4th or 5th edition at a good used bookstore. I own the 4th edition, it’s a bit dated but more than adequate for everyday use.

Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences 5th ed. by V McMillan

I was introduced to this book during my undergrad where it was on the required reading list (in part, I think because the author is also an alumni of the University of Saskatchewan’s biology department) I’ve carried it with me ever since. McMillan focuses on writing term papers and lab reports with less attention paid to writing journal articles, so this might be a better choice for undergrads. That said, there are good sections on formatting and citing that also apply to graduate level work. The current edition also covers the formatting of posters.

Writing to Learn Biology by R Moore

A Short Guide to Writing about Biology 7th ed. by J Pechenik

These two were recommended to me by Cedric Gillot, editor of the Bulletin (Cedric is one of those good editors I mentioned earlier. He’s been editing my work, on and off, for over 15 years).

Moore’s book looks to be out of print but many copies are available from online used book stores (as are most of the books in this post).  Pechenik’s book is well reviewed on Amazon. I’ll track down a copy and report back. If you’ve read this book let me know what you thought.

Books on writing in general:

These three books are not about writing in science, but are all excellent guides on how to write well.

How to Speak and Write Correctly by J Devlin.

Perhaps the granddaddy of all grammar guides. While it’s a bit dated (Devlin goes into detail on the proper use of ‘shall’ and ‘thou’), writers should still find it relevant. In particular, those, like me, that were never taught the rules of english grammarl. One other plus, since it was published in 1910, the copyright has expired and it can be had for free!
The Elements of Style 4th ed. by W Stunk and E.B. White.

The classic guide to writing in english. Buy this. Read it. Then put it on your bookshelf and read it again every year for the rest of your life. The best $12 you can invest towards becoming a better writer.

On writing well by W Zinsser

Zinsser focuses on guiding the writer to telling a compelling story. A great resource if you fancy becoming a writer about science (in addition to a writer of science). Regardless, science is about telling stories and the advice in this book about constructing a narrative can be applied to writing in the peer-reviewed literature.
And two for the road…

These last two books are on the art and craft of writing. Both are fun reads and worth checking out.

On Writing by S King.

Yes, that ‘S King’. King has much good advice to offer to all writers. If you ever wondered how King could be such a prolific writer, consider this: he writes at least 1000 words a day, six days a week. Anyone who has spent that much of their life writing should have good advice to offer. Set any doubts that you may have about King as a fiction writer and read this book. Probably one of his best.

When you catch an adjective. Kill it. by B. Yagoda

cover photo [ http://covers.openlibrary.org/w/id/528568-M.jpg ]

A fun little book about exercising verbosity from your writing. Clearly, I need to read it again.

I’d also love to hear your recommendations. What books influenced you as a writer?

Cover images in this post are from the Open Library project. Links are to Amazon.ca, but you should be able to find many of these in your local used bookstore, university bookstore or library.

, ,

Demystifying the publication process: A workshop brought to you by the Entomological Society of Canada

Chris Buddle, Editor-in-Chief, The Canadian Entomologist

______________________________________

These days, scientific societies are struggling to maintain membership.  This is, in part, because the value of membership is not always apparent.  The Entomological Society of Canada has recognized this issue for years, but I believe we are starting to enter a new, exciting era for ESC members.   This will be especially apparent at the upcoming ESC Joint Annual Meeting (November 3-7,  2012) when the society will host its first hands-on “workshop”; this workshop is free for members of the society.  Let me repeat:  FREE for ESC members!  That is value for your membership.

There is, however, a catch:  you must register for this workshop in advance! 

Here are the details:

Workshop: “Perspectives on the Publication Process”

On Sunday November 4 from 9-12am, immediately before the start of 2012 Joint Annual Meeting in Edmonton, the Entomological Societies of Canada and Alberta are jointly hosting a workshop on the publication process at the JAM venue.  This goal of this workshop, focusing on Entomology in Canada, is to provide practical information and demystify the publication process from writing to reviewing to editing to publishing. This workshop is intended for anyone with an interest in the publication process, irrespective of career stage, experience, or age.

The workshop will start with four short and informative presentations

  1. Introduction, Chris Buddle, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University & Editor-in-Chief, The Canadian Entomologist
  2. An Editor’s perspective on process and issues in publication, Mark Goettel, Editor-in-Chief,  Biocontrol Science and Technology
  3. Some basic rules for writing a manuscript, Jeremy McNeil, Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario
  4. A publisher’s perspective on current challenges and opportunities in scientific publishing, Jonathan Speilburg, Cambridge University Press

This will be followed by moderated break-out sessions on five topics (selected based on feedback from ESC members).  These sessions are meant to be informal and interactive.   Attendees will be able to attend two breakout sessions.

  • The Peer Review Process
  • Picking the Right Journal
  • Ethics, Authorship and Data
  • How to Review a Scientific Manuscript
  • Current Challenges in Scientific Publishing

The workshop will finish with take-home messages from each of the break-out sessions and with a panel discussion with the featured speakers.

Attendees MUST sign up for the workshop by ticking the correct box on the form when pre-registering for JAM

This is a first come, first serve event with limited space and it is filling up fast.  So if you want to attend, register soon! Registration will include a food break, and is free to ESC and ESAB members; $50 for non-members (to be paid at the workshop).

If you have any questions, you can contact members of the workshop organizing committee:

Chris Buddle (chris.buddle@mcgill.ca)

Kenna MacKenzie (Kenna.MacKenzie@agr.gc.ca)

Rosemarie De Clerck-Floate (Rosemarie.DeClerck-Floate@agr.gc.ca)