ABOUT GrrlScientist

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grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands.

A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. She writes the popular eponymous science blog hosted by The Guardian (UK) and is working on a popular science book about plumage colour. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots — and a slightly deaf spouse — somewhere in Germany.

 

GrrlScientist: All Posts

 
 

Birdbooker Report 365

Posted 25 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read more

How chemistry affects the evolution of life

Posted 20 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: In this fascinating video, Professor Ros Rickaby from Oxford chats with Professor Simon Conway-Morris at Cambridge about how Earth’s changing chemistry has affected evolution, and how this can sometimes lead to evolutionary convergence A feature of natural selection, or “survival of the fittest”, is that context defines what is “fittest”. Traits that are “fittest” in one habitat can become liabilities in others. This was observed first-hand across Britain when it was newly industrialising: wing colour of the peppered moth,... Read more

Gender equality in science: it takes a village

Posted 17 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: Late last year, a metastudy was published showing that, since 2000, things are improving for women working in most STEM-based fields, although there are some notable exceptions The scarcity of women in the ranks of working scientists has been in the news for a discouragingly long time. But research that tries to understand the reasons is filled contradictions, mainly because these studies were conducted at different times and on different science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Last year... Read more

Birdbooker Report 364

Posted 17 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read more

How photosynthesis is inspiring solar power research

Posted 13 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: To meet humanity’s growing energy demands, scientists are taking lessons from plants, which perfected the process of capturing the sun’s rays and transforming that into starch. Might scientists be able to adapt the photosynthetic process pioneered by plants and adapt it to meet human demands? The impacts that people have upon the global environment has been a concern to scientists for more than 100 years. These impacts are due, in large part, to the fuels we use. To reduce... Read more

Science, climate change and controversy

Posted 12 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: It’s inevitable: as science progresses, controversy happens. But sometimes, the public sees controversy where none exists. How to remedy that? “Science is often thought of as simply a collection of facts which has been handed down to us by some great authority in the past”, says meteorologist Paul Williams, a Royal Society university research fellow at the University of Reading. “But of course, the reality is a lot more complicated than that.” Science is a human endeavour that is... Read more

Citizen science is making scientists of everyone

Posted 11 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: Citizen science is getting a lot of attention these days, which might make you think it is a new social phenomenon. But in fact, nothing is further from the truth: citizen science has been around much longer than any of us. . . Citizen science is getting a lot of attention these days, which might make you think it is a new social phenomenon. But in fact, nothing could be further from the truth: citizen science has been around... Read more

Birdbooker Report 363

Posted 9 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read more

Science: Where are the women?

Posted 8 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: What can be done to increase the numbers of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- the so-called STEM fields? The Royal Society explores this very question in today’s video, which features physicist Dame Athene Donald FRS and cognitive neuroscientist Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. International Women’s Day has been observed for more than 100 years. It originally began in 1909 in the United States as National Women’s Day, but Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland began observing this day starting... Read more

Murmuration over Utrecht

Posted 7 March 2015 by GrrlScientist

SUMMARY: Today’s “Caturday” video features a large flock of starlings -- a murmuration -- performing their spectacular aerial ballet in the sky over Utrecht, Netherlands. . . Large flocks of birds flying in a tight group are one of the most spectacular shows that nature has on offer. Migrating shorebirds and wintering European starlings provide the most familiar examples of this behaviour. Birds form these large flocks to protect themselves from predators, to share information regarding food sources, and to... Read more