Tonight was just the second official research group meeting of the semester (we alternate meetings within the group with “Science Drinks”, a biweekly session we’ll start reporting on next week). I can summarize our meeting as composed of four main topics:
- Naturally, we discussed the brand new website, and one of our conclusions (along with many suggestions for cosmetic improvements, which will be implemented asap) was that we should provide brief summaries of our lab meetings for the purpose of archiving our activities, providing convenient links to papers we discussed, dealing with follow-up issues, and allowing some of our far-afield members (busy being in Hawaii or being Mom) to keep up with happenings. Since I’m the editor-in-chief, it falls to me to provide the first summary. Trust the quality of these to pick up once I hand over the reins starting next week.
- In addition to discussing web issues, Tom advertised Susan Johnston‘s seminar in the Stirling BES seminar series next Monday. Susan has promised to discuss her recent work, including the Nature paper showing exciting fluctuating selection on horn size in Soay sheep. I anticipate we’ll have more to say on this next week after her visit, so I’ll avoid saying more just now.
- I briefly presented some analyses of data collected by Eilidh Macleod, a recent hons student whose excellent thesis we have yet to publish. Eilidh studied the relationships between mating status, fecundity, and ornamentation of females in a Scottish dance fly, Rhamphomyia longipes. Because she was making her observations on specimens collected from Malaise traps, the alternative causal mechanisms for covariation between these measures is unclear, and we’re struggling with a number of approaches to disentangling them. One of the techniques I’ve been toying with for a couple of years now is Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), but my progress has been slowed in part by the peculiarities of our data. Tom mentioned that Michael Morrissey (from the University of St. Andrews) gave an excellent talk on measuring selection using SEM at the recent ESEB meeting in Lisbon, and that there may soon be Youtube videos of these talks available? I’ll edit this with a link if Tom or I can find one….
- Finally, we had an extra round of beer and a few laughs. Tom and Lilly agreed to give talks for the Biology Society, I think. And maybe there’s a game of PowerPoint roulette on the horizon?