Becoming a Master – Desk Work and Podcasts

Week 28


So this week I am now back in London to begin all things statistics. However most of this week has been spent reading papers and actually sorting out my data. For each of my hedgerows I had a different piece of paper with the data on it as well as a notebook with different notes and ideas. So this week all of these notes have needed to go into my computer. It sounds just as dull as it is. That being said it has to be done so as a way to stop myself going insane I have been listening to a lot of podcasts.

I find that I almost work better to podcasts than music as they can be less distracting. They are also a great way to learn a lot about science! Here are my two current favourites.

Science Brunch – These two amazing ladies post podcasts discussing amazing scientists. Hearing the stories of these inspiring people has been keeping me going through the piles of paperwork.

Level Up Human – This podcast is a really interesting concept. What would you add to humans to improve human kind as a whole? Its hosted by Simon Watt alongside lots of other great guest hosts. The ideas that come out of these podcasts are insane and weird and I love it!

I’m building up my repertoire of podcasts thanks to a lot of lovely suggestions on twitter. They are literally saving me from the boredom of paper work. Please tweet me or drop a comment on your favourite podcasts and I will check them out!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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Becoming A Master – Deadlines, Deadlines Everywhere!


So it has not been a great week for BEDA. Mainly because my deadlines came and tapped me on the shoulder and then I went into a little bit of hibernation. I am nearing the end and next week I’m free. But for now I better get back to it because I’ll be honest I’m at the green stage of this beautiful diagram.


I’ll be back next week!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




Becoming A Master – GIS: The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly

Week 21

Good Morning folks, as I start writing this it is 8:50am on Tuesday and I am sitting down for a day with my good friend ArcMap. That if you did not know is a piece of Geographical Information Software, otherwise known as GIS. I’ve taken a module this term in Environmental GIS which has been my favourite out of the four I’ve had this term. That however does not mean I don’t occasionally fall out with it. So I thought for this weeks BAM I’d talk about the pros and cons of GIS. I’m also spending this week finishing my assignment for this class. I’ll let you know at the end of this blog if I’ve done it by the time you read this.

I’ll start with the cons…

  1. The dreaded X – Now I’ll admit I am still learning how to use the software, so I do on occasion come across this X in my results field after running some analysis. Thats all well and good if you know how to fix it. I often don’t and sometimes the error messages are not helpful at all. Thank goodness for the internet, it’s saved me so many times from the X.
  2. Waiting – My biggest flaw is arguably that I can be a very impatient person, particularly when I have a lot on my plate. Arc Map can at times be impossibly slow (right now I’m waiting for some raster calculation results). I can therefore get a little annoyed by this, particularly if my results come back with an X.

Now on to the pros

  1. Pretty Maps – You can create some really amazing stuff with GIS, not to mention the amount of maps online. I even found a GIS map of Westeros!
  2. The sheer joy when it works –  Getting the little tick of approval is just marvelous! Its such a sense of achievement when it all goes the right way!

Hopefully some of you who work with GIS can appreciate my snuggles. Hope you’re enjoying BEDA so far you can catch up with any episodes missed on the extras page!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




Becoming A Master – A Chat About Big Game Hunting

Week 20

Hello! Welcome to another update of how my process of becoming a master of science is going. I am technically on my Easter break at the moment and generally any period classed as a break means I’m just working harder than ever. This week I’ve been working on my assignments due at the end of April. I have four to do totaling in at a maximum word count of 8000 words. Unfortunately that does tend to make me a little bit of a hermit to the outside world so I don’t have that much to report in terms of what I actually did this week. I sat at my laptop for a good 8 hours every day! I’m not complaining though, its really interesting work!

That being said I want to talk about a documentary I watched this week! It was a part of the series called Brainwashing Stacey. I am a huge fan of Stacey Dooleys documentaries so whenever I see one pop up on iplayer I tend to give it a watch immediately. This one was about big game hunting. That if you don’t know is when very rich people buy at auction opportunities to go to places like Africa to hunt big animals like wildebeest, zebra and lions. An example that hit the news big time was Cecil the Lion who was killed by a dentist. Stacey had the opportunity to follow one of these hunts and yes the show does get a little gruesome at times. Here’s where this hit me though is that the hunters said they were doing this for the conservation of the animals….

My first reaction went a little like this…

Image result for wait what meme

There side of the argument was that by killing a few animals for a very high price (we’re talking millions of dollars for one hunt) they could feed that money back into the care of the other animals. This meant using the money to pay for rangers to protect the land and stop illegal poaching. The other side of the argument was that the meat from the animals that were killed was then given for free to an orphanage and that the kids would go hungry if it wasn’t for that meat. On the other side of things the animals were often not killed cleanly and after they were shot the man who owned the ranch had to track the animals for several hours to put the animal out of its misery.

Personally I couldn’t get past the idea that the hunters were doing this for the fun of killing animals and nothing more. They often take pictures with these dead animals (which I’ve deliberately not included in this blog its far too disgusting to me) and there method of killing them and the heads of these animals often end up on their walls as a trophy. Killing animals is a part of life for many people and I eat meat so maybe this is hypocritical for me to say. However, if they have all this money and want to see it put to protecting animals and conservation purposes why not just give the money to the ranch directly and not go hunting.

If you are interested I think the documentary is on the BBCs iPlayer for a little while longer and it’s well worth a watch. This topic certainly makes for an interesting conversation and one I’d love to continue. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments or on twitter. Do you think big game hunting is a good thing if it gives millions of dollars for the conservation of not just the animals but the ecosystem they live in? Do you think its just a bit of a con to let people kill beautiful animals? Please let me know!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




Becoming A Master – “Like I’m on an episode of time team”

Week 18

Hello! I can’t really believe this but next week is my last week of teaching at UCL. Thats not to say that the work stops not one bit! I’m not a master of science quite yet! Anyway thats next weeks problem to deal with I’m here to tell you about what I’ve been up to this week.

This week has been similar to the rest this term with lectures and assignment and what not. I got to find some macrofossils which was so cool on Monday. I found a part of a fish scale which to me was just amazing. That tiny piece of scale can tell us a lot about the type of lake that fish was living in. For example the fish species that I found does well in lakes that are going through eutrophication. This is a process when you get excessive nutrients going into the lake which causes an algal bloom. From this we can infer along with other resources what life was like surrounding the lake. All really cool and makes me feel a little like I’m on an episode of time team.

This weekend I also went to one of my favourite places in London, of course its Kew Gardens. So I will leave you with a few pictures of Kew in bloom!


See you soon!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




Becoming A Master – A Day In The Life

Week 17

Hello and welcome to another update on how my masters degree in conservation is going. If you are new here you can always catch up with my updates here. This week I thought I’d do something a little different and give you just a day in my life. This term I have way more structure than last term so this is a fairly typical Monday for me and it will be right up until the end of this term.

8am – I arrived in at uni bright and early this morning, lots to do this week so I’m starting as I mean to go on! Then it was straight into my favourite computer room to check on emails, write my to do lists and drink my coffee. There’s no drink or food allowed in the lab I work in but this girl needs her caffeine fix!

9am – Time to get started with the microscope work. This shot might look tidy but if I’m honest I always stretch my belongings out across half the lab when I have it to myself as I did this morning!


10am – Still in the lab and well into my work. This morning I was counting ostracods, which kind of look like little jelly beans!


11am – Finished looking at the ostracods so then I spent some time catching up on admin for the two lab books I have. These account for 50% each of there respective modules so I like to keep them looking smart and all up to date as much as I can.

12pm – I had a meeting with one of my lecturers to discuss my essay and practicals that I have to do. One of the things that I love about my degree is its really easy to go and find lecturers to have a chat with and they are really helpful.

1pm – Lecture time on foraminifera! Which are calcareous heterotrophs which we can use as an indicator for environmental changes. They’re a little strange looking but very unique!

2pm – Finally a little break to eat my lunch as packed by my fantastic other half so thank you to him!

3pm – A little blogging break! I’m still working on a very exciting project coming in April, so I was busy working away on that.

4pm – Back in the lab, this time working on the foraminifera from my lecture. Microscope work is really so much fun but it can be tiring so I was close to falling asleep on my microscope by this point.


5pm – Still going in the lab! I wanted to take another picture but time flew away and by the time I looked up from my microscope it was almost time to go home.

6pm – Home Time! At last its time for me to go home and this is where I’ll leave you, my evenings are fairly boring and this particular evening involved cooking for the week and netflix!


Hope you’ve all had a great week!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




Becoming A Master – Conservation 2037

Week 14

This week I got to do something so unbelievably cool that I’m not really sure it even happened. I went to the Conservation 2037 event which is a gathering of the top 5 masters degrees in conservation. (to be honest I can’t even really believe I’m classed as being in that group!). This involved the university’s of Oxford and Cambridge, University College London and Imperial College London. The aim of the day was to discuss the future of conservation in the next twenty years.

It was held at the Linnean society of London named after the one and only Carl Linnaeus. I walked into the meeting room which just so happened to be where Darwin and Wallace presented their theory of evolution and the origin of species for the first time! There we had some empowering talks from doctors and professors from our universities. I was truly empowered by Ruth Davies who told us to be more ambitious with our careers and that we (the students) were the future leaders of conservation. I felt like it was such an important statement because I know I have doubted my ability in this field and I have no reason to!

Then we were split into mixed groups and we got to speak to each other about what we thought the future of conservation needed. I must say the people in my group were all intelligent and lovely. I loved sharing my ideas and someone even asked if I had seen myself getting into policy. If any of you in my group are happening to read this well it was a pleasure to meet you. I can’t wait to see you all succeed in your careers.

Then the last session of the day involved the CEOs of the top conservation organisations. Two of which are part of the alumni for my course which is truly remarkable. Once again we got to hear about their views on what needs to be changed moving forward and once again I felt so empowered to go out there and make change happen.

So after hearing so many views this is what I want for conservation in 2037.

I want it to be a necessity not a luxury. I want the importance of nature to be instilled in children from a young age and for that to continue throughout there education. I feel like conservation in the next twenty years needs to do a better job of becoming inter disciplinary. Not just with other sciences but with the arts as well. I also want in my career to make change by using small initiatives that gets the world on board. After all I truly believe what ghandi said. We must be the change we wish to see in the world.

So I hope you’re ready for me world. I’m coming to get you and I have an army of conservationists with me!


ThatBiologist Everywhere!



Instagram – The pictures of this day you’ll be able to see here

Becoming A Master – Sleepy Superhero

Week 13


Hello! So here we are at the end of another week and I am TIRED! I took some much needed time off this weekend but what I’ve learnt so far is that masters degrees are full throttle the whole time. In my undergrad, January was always a sleepy month where you could relax a little but with my masters I just don’t have the time to do that. Last week I submitted my assignments for last term and this week I’ve started ones for this term. I’m not complaining though, (I know it sounds like I am), I like being kept on my toes. I love all the new things I’m learning too. This past week I learnt that I can fully identify 17 different diatom taxa. I learnt I can put a digital photograph into a GIS map. I learnt what the thermocline is and how it affects coral reefs (more to come on that, it’s really cool). I also learnt about core extrusion from my field trip last week.

So after all that plus doing all the writing that I do everyday I am pretty tired. However, I keep going! I love what I do and I always feel like with what I’m learning I can make a real difference. I always come away from the week feeling I can save the world even if I am on occasion a bit of a sleepy superhero.

So on to the highlight of the week for me, which was getting approval for my dissertation idea. It’s just the bare bones of the project that I’ll start in the summer. I’ll write about it more once I get the official go ahead for it but I’m super excited to get going with it!

That’s all from me this week, I’m heading back to bed!

Sweet Dreams!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




Becoming A Master – Colds and Mating Rituals

Week 11

Hello, wow this week has flown by, unfortunately I’ve developed a cold so it hasn’t been the most interesting week to write about. In terms of what I’ve actually been doing for my masters is working on my presentation for a project next week and working on my assignments. Saying that I haven’t been getting very far because its so hard to work with a cold! So for this blog I was inspired by something really weird but I promise it circles back to biology.

I was on a little trundle train from Worthing to Brighton and lots of people were on their way out for a Saturday night in Brighton. So there was this girl trying to impress a guy with her knowledge of eye colour and how his eyes became to be how bright they were. I won’t tell you what she actually said mostly because it was all very wrong and quite sweary. Nevertheless it got me thinking about mating rituals and in the animal kingdom there are some really weird ones. So here are my three favourites!

Number 1: Birds of Paradise

The male birds of paradise have some seriously funky feathers. When they find a female they show off their feathers in a dramatic dance. This shows the females how healthy they are because the healthier bird the more vibrant their feathers are. A funny fact is that this skill is not innate and they have to practice!


Number 2: Flatworms

Flatworms are actually hemaphrodites however the females have to take care of the babys created. So when a flatworm meets another they fight to be the male partner. How do they do this I hear you ask, well they both whip out their penis and get into a strange fight. The winner is whoever inseminates the other first!

Number 3: Prairie Voles

Prairie Voles are part of the select group of monogamous animals and its been shown that if their partner is feeling stressed they give them the equivalent of vole kisses. They also spend up to 60% of their time together.

Image result for prairie vole couple

Now thats given me all the warm fuzzies! Have a great week everyone!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!



Becoming A Master – The Little Things

Week 8

This week has been a long one, a really long and fantastic week. I think mostly because I’ve crammed it full with lots of talks and meetings, not to mention working on my assignments. I couldn’t really take you through everything I’ve done this week because I’ve done so much so instead I’ll just talk about a particular highlight. On Tuesday I went to a debate at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The motion was whether or not our individual choices could influence climate change. It was in relation to the latest Living Planet report being released. The debate itself was very interesting, the panel speakers had very unique backgrounds making for an interesting discussion. There was a couple of different ideas I took away from the debate which will be coming to ThatBiologist soon. Although one overriding message was that although our individual choices do make a difference to climate change it can be terribly complicated to know what to do to help.That got me thinking, what would be a simple change people could make that would make a difference.

Cut to two days later and I was on an early morning commute to uni. Firstly I go past a particular branch of my favorite coffee shop, urm lets call them, Moonbucks. Now I go into this shop about 3 times a week (probably more but I don’t want to admit my addiction to Moonbucks). I now use a refillable plastic cup that gets me money off my drink but also saves me from throwing away their non-recyclable cups. When I’m on the tube I always see a fair few people with coffee in hand in those (let me stress again) NON-RECYCLABLE cups. Then once at university I saw a delivery truck unpacking thousands of plastic bottles just with water. I again carry around a water bottle (that I got for a pound from SMASDA) to refill during the day. This is two cases where a small change to an individuals lifestyle can make a big change to the environment.

Moonbucks and other coffee shops that give out these cups contribute a huge amount of waste every year. It was estimated in the UK alone that 2.5 billion coffee cups go to land fill a year. Now for the plastic water bottles, although these are recyclable it still takes a lot of energy to produce them. So I decided to then find out how many people do use refillable containers. So I put out a poll on my twitter and put up a status on my personal facebook. I do tend to live in a bit of an echo chamber filled with environmentalists however these were the results I got. Most people carried a refillable water bottle (YAY) but only a few carried a container for their hot drinks.

So where do we conclude with this, by making a simple change to your life you can help the environment. There were lots of other topics covered at this talk but I thought this one would be the most applicable to your lives. So perhaps think about picking up a reusable container for water and your hot drink of choice. The other thing you could do is if you do go out for coffee and you are drinking in house make sure you get a mug rather than a takeaway cup. It really does make a difference!

Thanks for reading this, sorry it was late! Busy busy busy! Have a great week everyone!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!