Rob Denton

Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology

First publication from SciFund support

The reason I started this blog two years ago was to connect to those who helped fund my science through the SciFund Challenge. Crowdfunding has come a long way, even since then, and I hope that my funders have been able to check back time and again to see how my PhD is progressing. However, after the t-shirts were sent and the thank-yous were written, I haven’t shown much about the salamander for for which I was so graciously supported by a group of science-loving citizens. One thing that is difficult to appreciate about science: it takes a long time. Creating new […]

Three things from Evolution 2014

I just got back from Evolution 2014, a scientific conference for those who study all aspects of organismal evolution. The conference was held in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I had an absolute blast during my first time at Evolution.One of my favorite events was Saturday’s Evolution film festival. A bunch of short films created by scientists and science educators were screened to a rowdy audience. There were a lot of laughs and nerdery-induced groans. My favorite film (“Dinosaur”, below) was catchy and cute, where others varied from humorous explanations of evolutionary principles to fantastic visualizations of scientific studies. You can […]

Small rattles, big personalities

In the dark recesses of Aronoff laboratory, many are surprised to know that our lab has an entire room filled with rattlesnakes. In fact, most visitors don’t believe us until we show them. Behind a plain, gray door lives a group of dusky pigmy rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius barbouri). This group of animals has been one of the main sources of data for our lab’s efforts in studying pit viper venom and how it relates to these animals diets and behavior. This work is currently being done by our principal investigator, Dr. Lisle Gibbs, and current PhD student Sarah Smiley. Right now, […]

Scenes from the OSU Museum of Biological Diversity Open House

Earlier this month, I was happy to again participate in the Ohio State Museum of Biological Diversity Open House, our department’s biggest outreach event. We had more than 2,200 visitors from all parts of Ohio and elsewhere. This year, Matt Holding and I teamed with two fantastic undergraduates who work in our lab (Meghan Parsley and Paul Hudson) to go even bigger than we did last year. Since this year’s theme was all about how scientists use technology to discover and classify biodiversity, we put together a booth that showed visitors how our lab uses technology across all aspects of […]

Who Works 80 Hours a Week in Academia?

Part of being a graduate student is working hard. Whispers of disappearing faculty positions and decreases in funding percentages are heard at most social gatherings. You have to be in the lab 80 hours per week to stay at the front. Right? In this really good blog post, Dr. Meghan Duffy (follow her on twitter here!) presents her argument for why the myth of the 80 hours/week = success equation is pretty silly.  When I read Dr. Duffy’s post a few weeks ago, I had already been intensely thinking about the way I work for about a month. After reaching […]

A research lab that herps together, works together

Back in August before the semester began, a good portion of the Gibbs lab headed down to Florida for a week of science and reptiles/amphibians. We were visiting some colleagues/collaborators at Florida State University as well as helping Sarah Smiley catch pigmy rattlesnakes for her thesis research.Believe it or not, I’ve just recently downloaded the photos from my camera. Here are some of the interesting things we did and interesting creatures we found: I almost ordered two slices because I didn’t believe that they were “as big as your head”. David and Lisle appreciating the alligators Sarah took us swimming […]

TANK

As if he were making art just for my interests, Nate Milton presents this animated short film, “TANK”. This beauty is well worth nine minutes of your life, especially if you were anything like me growing up: chasing creepy crawly creatures and playing junior naturalist. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that has so accurately tapped into the magical feelings that surround connecting with the natural world as a child, feelings that certainly still resonate with me as an adult.This film was the results of a successful Kickstarter campaign and you can see more behind-the-scenes videos/photos on Mr. Milton’s production […]

Science links: Science Studio educates, entertains, and inspires

Whew, I’ve been away from the blog for a bit while I finished my PhD candidacy. Now that I’ve been deemed a competent scientist by my senior colleagues, I have a backlog of blog posts to get to. I’m going to start by pointing you towards Science Studio, a collection of the best science multimedia on the web. This idea comes from Rose Eveleth and Ben Lillie, who are two people behind the equally excellent podcast Story Collider.  So, why is Science Studio cool? Well, finding really good science media isn’t easy. Unfortunately, the best and most effective science multimedia isn’t […]

Field Herpetology at The Southwest Research Station (Part 3)

I had a fantastic time teaching at the Southwestern Research Station’s Field Herpetology course this year. We returned to Ohio on Wednesday and definitely needed a couple of days to recover from eight straight days of hiking, teaching, and chasing after reptiles/amphibians. I had a few more pictures of animals and class activities, so we needed a part three to finish things up. Last beautiful day at the research station: The students had an awesome time catching Sonora Mud Turtles (Kinosternon sonoriense) with Dr. Justin Congdon, Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia. He’s about the coolest guy you could […]

Field Herpetology at the Southwest Research Station (Part 2)

More photos from the 2013 Field Herpetology course! The first female Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) I have ever seen hold still: Herpetologist photobomb: Round-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma modestum): Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus priceii): Huge male! Think rattlensakes are mean? Look at this individual hiding his head. Bad lighting, but a beautiful snake. My very first Bunchgrass Lizard (Sceloporus slevini). A tough find all the way up the mountains: Here is some of the variation in Long-nosed Snakes (Rhinocheilus lecontei):