Monday, June 14, 2010

"New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs" is finally available!

Last Thursday the book of papers from the Royal Tyrrell Museum's Ceratopsian Symposium, "New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs", was made available after a long (and frustrating) delay through Indiana University Press.

This volume includes 36 peer-reviewed papers as well as a CD-ROM of three additional informative papers (including a history of ceratopsian discoveries and a bibliography of published papers). The book has 10 new species described and numerous thought-provoking hypotheses proposed.

Why am I so excited about it being published? As a volunteer, I was able to help the editors with final edits on the book and was pleasantly surprised by being named an editorial assistant. Also, it's a landmark publication that will be cited for years to come and I was honored to be able to help.

So run out and get it while it's literally hot off the press and enjoy! :D

Friday, June 11, 2010

The scow trip approaches...

Our scow trip down the Red Deer River is approaching. See the blog "Dinosaur Hunting by Boat in 2010: Alberta, Canada" for more information.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New exhibit at Tyrrell Museum

May 22 is the opening of the latest exhibit at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta. It's in celebration of their 25th anniversary. They've chosen 25 amazing specimens to put on display. You can see photos of the specimens on their Flickr site here: The exhibit is entitled "Alberta Unearthed: Twenty-five stories of discovery". I'm looking forward to seeing it and hope you are too!

The above picture is one of the specimens, a Tyrannosaurus rex called Black Beauty. The image was shamelessly stolen from the Tyrrell Flickr page.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

D-Day approaches

So tomorrow at 2PM is my 2 hour oral candidacy exam. I don't think I've been this stressed out since I got divorced over a dozen years ago. Today I went through all the different stages of grief, with an especially long time spent on anger. Mainly it pisses me off that I have to go through all of this to prove my academic worthiness when I've already completed a masters degree. I guess I could see it if someone goes from completing their bachelors right into a PhD, but did my 2.5 years of research count for nothing? I guess not. Sigh.

Tonight I'm to the point where if I fail, that will be fine because in all the years I did accounting I never felt this beat up. So maybe accounting wasn't that bad after all.

So wish me luck tomorrow. I'm pretty disillusioned about the entire thing and I'm suspicious that I won't feel any better about it when it's over - no matter how it turns out. T minus 16 hours and counting...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Horned Dinosaur Book

The latest on the "New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs" book is that it will be released on May 28, 2010. I'm crossing my fingers, although after all the other delays I won't really believe it until I have it in my hot little hands. :D

Monday, April 26, 2010

Congratulations Dani Fraser, newly minted master of science!

Congratulations to Dani Fraser for successfully defending her masters thesis "Studying latitudinal variation in the response of ungulates to Late Miocene climate change utilizing ungulates from the Coffee Ranch (Hemphillian Age) of Texas" here at the Biological Sciences Department of the University of Calgary.

Dani will be going on to Carleton University for her PhD and continuing her research in the Rybczynski lab.

Congratulations Dani!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Candidacy exams

I am currently in the middle of my candidacy written exam - otherwise known as 'candidacy hell'. I noticed as the exams approached and I discussed (or, more accurately, complained) about them, that many people didn't know what they are. So I thought I'd post a short explanation about them. Candidacy exams are also known as qualifying exams and most PhD students will have to endure them in one form or another. I had them explained to me by a committee member as a way for your advisory committee to ensure that you can handle the pressures of academic life and/or the rigors of research as well as to look for deficiencies within your knowledge that need to be worked on. They also see how you work under pressure.

Candidacy exams come in two basic forms: 1) a written exam and 2) an oral exam. The majority of people who have been through them have told me that they only had to endure a two hour oral exam. My department, however, makes you go through both. Here's a timeline of how this should work: Approximately 6 months before your oral exam, you/your supervisor/your committee (or some combination thereof) create a reading list to help refresh your memory on the basics within your chosen field, teach you new techniques for your research, and to catch you up on any important literature that you may have missed. My reading list included 23 books and 18 papers. I ended up reading them all, plus an additional 9 books and countless papers. Then one month before your oral exam, you receive four questions that your committee has compiled. You choose three of those questions to write 20-25 page (double spaced) papers on within the following three weeks. These papers get turned in to your committee members. Then you get a week "off" - but most people spend that time familiarizing themselves with the subject(s) of the fourth question. The end of that week is your two hour oral exam. The format for the oral exam usually follows a program: First, your committee members ask questions related to the papers that you have written, then, they ask about the question that chose not to write on, and finally, they can ask whatever they want on basically whatever subject they want. Usually, they don't ask questions that are too far out in left-field, but I've heard some real horror stories.

While this sounds (and is) pretty daunting, I'd almost rather have both the written and oral exam because at least you can feel prepared for the oral exam. Going into an oral exam cold with no idea what your committee may ask would be terrifying.

If I could change things, I would reduce the number of papers that we had to write from three to two in the allotted three week time period so we could spend a bit more time thinking about the subject matter and polishing them up when completed. However, it is what it is.

My oral exam is on May 5th at 2PM (MST). If there is a very loud pop heard around the world at that time, rest assured that it is my head exploding. Now back to work for me.