Rob Denton

Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology

How We Work: Dr. Tyler Smith talks standing desks, cranberries, and coding to the Tron soundtrack

Our next guest for the How We Work series is Dr. Tyler Smith. Tyler is currently a research scientist for the Canadian government, but we first me while he was a faculty member in the department of biology at Eastern Kentucky University.    Prepped and ready for sedge hunting in turkey season Location: Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Ottawa, Canada Current Position: Research Scientist, Taxonomy of native crop wild relatives One word that best describes how you work: Inertia would work. Reactive would be accurate too much of the time as well. I aspire to be a more mindful and deliberate […]

Old Man of the Forest

Our department’s graduate students took our fall camping trip over the weekend to southern Ohio, and we were treated to a really special animal: That’s a big timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) hiding out under some fall leaves. This endangered species is both secretive and well camouflaged, so you could easily walk right past one of these bad boys even if you were lucky enough to be near one. This particular snake is part of a long-term study to understand the movements and behavior of these snakes in Ohio. A radio transmitter guided the volunteers who track these snakes directly to this individual, and we […]

Salamander Snapchats

With the school year starting up again, it means that the undergraduate crew that I work with in the laboratory at Ohio State are back on campus. They are great to work with. Really great. One of my favorite things about them, aside from their work ethic and trustworthiness, is that they have a fantastic collective sense of humor. Because levity is a big part of my own personal work environment, I encourage joking around extensively while doing scientific work.  One of our salamander caretakers, Paul, is particularly fond of updating me regularly about how the captive salamanders are doing. […]

Apps for Academia: Let’s Talk Tech

A big part of training to be a scientist is training to be productive. Grad students and faculty do a lot of different things in a set amount of time, and that amount of time always stubbornly stays the same or reduces. Improving efficiency not only allows you to have more time for non-work things, but also allows you to devote valuable time to tasks that need creativity instead of efficiency. My advisor often tells us that we are too busy and need more time to sit around and think.  As much as technology can be a rabbit-hole of wasted time, I […]

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 […]

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 […]

Get to Know a (Former) Grad Student: Dr. Ana Jimenez

With this post, I’m continuing the “Get to Know a Grad Student” series, an effort to showcase the lives of real scientists. After interviewing a few graduate students, I thought it would be nice to hear from someone who has crossed the PhD boundary into the wild blue yonder.  Dr. Ana Jimenez is a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Joe Williams’ lab here in the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology Department at Ohio State. Ana has been my teacher and biggest supporter in the impossible task of getting salamander cells to grow in the lab. She is also my designated dog […]

What I’ve learned about outreach

This past week was the last week of the first Scifund Online Outreach Class, in which more than a hundred scientists and educators from around the world got together to improve their outreach skills. I was excited to participate in the class, and ended up enjoying it more than I ever expected. My former advisor, Stephen Richter, identifying stream insects with local biology teachers. Science outreach is loosely defined as any activity that raises the public’s awareness of science. Unfortunately, that definition is a little too simplified. The “public” are a bunch of people: kindergartners, moms/dads, police, politicians, and retirees sitting on […]