From today you can stay up to date about my research and get a glimpse into the life of a Behavioral Ecologist on my new instagram account: @jollewjolles!
Not only do I think it is great to provide the outside world a glimpse into the scientific process, I also really enjoy showing all the different components of my research, from catching fish and calibrating cameras to late night grant writing and attending conferences, that all together eventually culminate into my academic papers.
Yesterday night we had the Konstanzer Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft, a whole evening where scientists present their work to the general public. I was excited to also participate this year and had a couple boards installed with posters and photos about my work, and a big screen that showcased collective moving stickleback shoals with the sophisticated tracking and processing we use projected on top.Read further…
An important aspect of science is the dialogue with the general public. Most public outreach is however rather static, only focused on transferring knowledge, and quite uni-directional. I wanted to find a way to convey my research about collective animal behaviour in a format that people can engage with and appreciate.
An excellent opportunity for more interactive outreach is to bridge science with art. Not only may this lead to a better understanding of science by the general public and more appreciation about the hidden beauty of the world around us, it may also generate new ideas and perspectives about my own work.
I am excited to say that I have been awarded a Zukunftskolleg Intersectoral grant that enables me to set-up a professional collaboration with Toer, a Dutch design studio known for their curiosity-driven work and interactive art installations. This long-term program will bridge the disciplines of science, art, and technology with the aim to not only inform and educate the public about collective behaviour but to inspire and make science accessible in a playful way.
Recently I was invited to participate in the latest episode of the fantastic Naked Scientists podcasts series to highlight why sticklebacks are the most incredible animal on the planet!
Colour-switching sticklebacks, geckos with enough adhesive power to hold up a human, bats with built-in sonar and moles with amazing noses – this week we go in search of the world’s most incredible animals. Scientists passionate about their species put their cases to our panel. But which animal will be crowned king?
To make clear to the radio audience why sticklebacks, perhaps ordinary looking fish to most, are actually an amazing animal species I brought along 10 fellow stickles and made them change colour over the time of the hour long interactive show! You can listen to the full podcast here or just listen to my part here where I also discuss a range of other cool abilities of this great little fish.
Last Wednesday I gave the Student Lecture at the Linnean Society in London. It was a great honour for me to be invited to talk at this wonderful society, which is the oldest active biological Society in the world!
My hour-long lecture was mainly aimed at students with a general biological background. I therefore made a much broader talk about my work, which is a nice change from all the conference talks the last year.
I talked about a range of things, from how I decided to be a scientists and what fascinates me in the natural world around me to why I study sticklebacks to study these questions and how to do behavioural experiments. I then discussed the various experiments I have done to investigate the role of animal personality in collective behaviour.
It was great to see so many enthusiastic students with very bright questions at the end that hopefully got inspired by my talk to become zoologists themselves. My talk should become viewable online next week so check back soon!
I have recently started a youtube channel (here) to showcase my research projects and interests. As a scientist I believe it is important (and fun!) to engage with the public and make your work understandable to scientists and non-scientists alike. Not only because most science is ultimately payed by the tax payer, but also because one of the main goals of science is to learn more about our world and share this knowledge.
Next to publishing papers it is important to make these papers understandable so that this new knowledge can be appreciated and potentially be used by the general public. The aim with a new youtube channel is to show videos of different aspects of my experiments and projects but also of interesting aspects of social life of both human and non-human animals that reflect my research interests.
Today I would like to share a short video from a recent experiment that shows the successful tracking of five three-spined stickleback fish to investigate the role of animal personality on leadership and group movements.
By tracking the fish we can accurately (mm scale) determine each fish average position in the tank and calculate individual characteristics as well as social parameters for the group, such as group cohesion and leadership. In this particular situation fish 2 was the leader of the group.
I am always looking for possibilities to combine my research interests with music, art or design. Luckily a couple months ago my two friends Jens Bouttery and Daan Milius, professional musician/composer and film makers, asked me to collaborate on a musical performance to explore the boundaries of music, science and art called “Triggers and Tresholds“.
We have had a couple very fruitful weekends in Cambridge during which we some great discussions about science and music and they filmed a couple shorts for the performance later this year. After their last visit here and seeing the sticklebacks and my research in my basement lab in Cambridge, Jens got very creative and within a day wrote a fantastic song about my research on animal personality! Listen to it below:
It is great to work together with good friends and see how my research is translated in such a creative way!
This is the first blog post on my academic website JolleJolles.com. Although I have already been running my own nature and science blog Mudfooted.com for the past four years, I felt a need for a more personal view on science and the academic world and really like to increase the engage more with the public about my own research!
This blog will present my personal view of interesting new findings from the behavioural ecology literature and beyond, additional information, photos and videos about my own research, and my personal opinions and experiences of academia. If you like to be amazed by our wonderful natural world and read about the most recent fascinating scientific discoveries, please go and visit my other blog Mudfooted.com!