New Year’s Resolutions

Is it just me, or has 2015 gone really, really fast?

Anyway – it’s that time of year again, and whether or not you think New Year’s Resolutions are worthwhile, I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year and what I might like to do differently, or more or less of, in 2016.

For starters, when I got my annual blogging summary from wordpress, I was a bit shocked to realise I’d only posted 5 times in 2015 – far less than I’d intended! [ICYMI, I started my blogging year reflecting on my over-ambitious start to my postdoc….   then wrote about a paper I had come out in JAE showing that allonursing might not have the benefits we expect in meerkats – say whaaa??  I went to an awesome social information use workshop in the Alps in July, which I wrote about here (by the way, they are advertising for the next one now on a more general theme – I’d highly recommend it!) I hit the lab in the summer for some hihi research – and then the field at the end of the year, getting to know the red-winged fairy wren!] So, I’m starting 2016 with an intention of, at the very least, doubling that blog output! Hopefully I’ll have more papers out next year to write about – and if not, I’ll definitely be posting about my attempts to fulfil my other resolutions…

After finishing my PhD, in particular the mad dash at the end when I felt like I ate, slept, dreamt, and read nothing unless it was about MEERKATS, I really wanted to set aside some time to read more widely and get acquainted with the field again.

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That didn’t really happen. Bad time management, internet misuse, blah blah blah – all of these are New Year’s resolutions in themselves. Sigh! But I’m trying one thing to really get to the root – having been inspired by the #365papers hashtag on Twitter this year, I’m going to try it myself this year: reading one paper per day. I suppose you could be strict and try to read papers that aren’t directly linked to whatever you’re working on, but I’m going to be general with it. Even if I fail, it will encourage me to set aside time each day for reading – by far the most undervalued thing you can do to further your scientific growth and career (I think)!

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There are a whole heap of other things I really seriously intend to do: get to work earlier, set myself monthly targets (and tell everyone about them so I’m held accountable!), work more efficiently on multiple papers at the same time (can anyone tell me how to do this??) – I’d really love to know what you guys are planning on make priorities next year! In the meantime… Happy New Year everyone, I hope you’re partying like:

Fantastic fairy wrens!

I’m writing from a beautiful karri forest in Western Australia, where I’ve been doing some fieldwork on red-winged fairy wrens for the last couple of months!

   
   
Red-winged fairy wrens are, like most fairy wren species, cooperative breeders: offspring will remain on a territory with their parents for a number of years and help to defend and feed new offspring. I’ve been collecting data on how parents and helpers of different sexes respond to offspring demand, how mothers adjust their response based on who is in their group, and whether offspring respond differently to male and female adults in their begging. More on this research soon!

In the meantime I’m enjoying finishing up a great field season – more to follow!