Friday, May 21, 2010

Vole upstages President Obama's Rose Garden Press Conference

The headlines read: "Rodent Scurries Past Obama in the Rose Garden".

The vole has been described as a gate crasher and upstager, because the critter has definitely caught our collective attention.  That may be true, but in actuality, maybe it was President Obama and the Press Corps that was disturbing the rodent.  It was scurrying back and forth making its way from one safe area (the cover of bushes) to the other past the podium and eyes of hundreds of upright potential predators (the press).

Everyone has debated the species identity of the critter as a rat, mouse, or mole.  It was in fact a vole.  I dare say it was a meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus.  I say that because of it size, length, of tail, geographic location, and general appearance (assuming I’m seeing a good quality picture).  I wonder what my other Microtus researcher friends would conclude?

Unlike rats, voles are much smaller in size.  Unlike mice (and rats), voles have very stout bodies with short tails and ears.  And the names rhyme moles and voles are not in the same order of mammals.  Moles are insectivores (predators).  Though small in size and with short tails, the head, legs and running gait of moles is entirely different than that of voles. And it was a rather healthy and chubby vole, perhaps a pregnant female? If so, there will be more scurrying voles in the Rose Garden very soon.

Pictures and link to full article about the event from Huffington Post.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blogging While Brown Conference Twittercast

Join The Blogging While Brown Conference organizers, attendees, and presenter tonight, Wednesday, May 19, 2010 for a Twittercast.

It will be a chance for fellow conference attendees to discuss objectives, answer questions and connect.  It's also a sneak peak into to the dialogue and people who will be at this amazing conference.

Twitter address is (@BWBConference)

The hash tag for tonight's twittercast is #bwb
You can follow the discussion be either following us on twitter are going a twitter search for #bwb.

The Twittercast will go from 8:00PM to 9:00PM EDT. That's 7:00PM-8:00 CDT.

I'll be there: @FeteSociety ( Ask me questions about the panel Beyond Gossip, Hip Hop, Hair, and Politics:Bloggers as Change Agents and Educators
I want you to participate, too.
Now, until the conference (June 19-20, 2010) there will be weekly Twittercasts at  8:00 pm EST/7:00 CST.
You can also attend the conference.  I've been informed that there is a special discount for my blog readers. So, let me know if you want to go (or have signed up) and I'll make sure you get the special 10% discount code.
The conference will be interactive.  In fact, the conference is more of an "Unconference" - with an adjacent room designated for “table talks” and in depth Q&A with panelists and fellow attendees.  Attendees will be able to request and propose discussion topics on the day of the conference and they will be assigned a table or tables to lead their own discussions.
And if you can't make it to conference, then watch it!  Theye are sending the entire schedule to CSPAN.  Although they have no control over which sessions they will choose to broadcast if any, but will let us know as soon as they find out.

More details about the conference at

Friday, May 07, 2010

My Final Commencement Ceremony

I graduate next week. I’ve been in school a LONG, LONG time – almost non-stop since I was 4 years old. My PhD has taken a wee bit longer than the average to complete (7 years is the average). But hey, I’m not complaining. I enjoyed what I studied. I learned a lot – about science, my research project turned out to be brilliant, and about the politics of academia including battling the forces of frustration known as IACUC. To be honest, although it took me a while to finish, it didn’t feel like it.

Yes, I had the normal hiccups – getting animals, keeping them alive, crying when they died, got some more animals, teaching too many classes, socializing too much, got occasionally lazy or depressed or frustrated, waiting on papers, writing grants, got a job, fighting with statistics, and personal life crises. Then I bounced back – quit the job, returned to the school routine, got a lot of work done, presented research, wrote it up, and defended. In my head I’m just an extended 8th year student (a lot like the Super Senior phenomenon).

I’ve been to A LOT of commencement ceremonies – my own, friends, family. And I realized this will be my last time walking across the stage to pick up my own lamb skin. (I’ll be attending many more in the future but as a guest or as an academic). Wow! I’ll never again be eligible for graduation gifts. I know, so random and so superficial. LOL.

In celebration of this long and fantastic journey and I have put together a wish list. However, I completely recognize that I am not at all entitled to anything. In truth the support I’ve gotten from so many people over the years is sufficient. Thank you.

Wish List
• A personalized embosser that says: “The Property of Danielle N. Lee, PhD”
• Magnetic Name tag that says: “Hello, My name is Danielle Lee and I share science!” or “Danielle Lee Outreach Scientist”
• Ticket to see Wicked (playing in St. Louis June 16 – July 11, 2010) - companion(s) to enjoy it with would be nice, too)
• Ticket to see Eagles in Concert with the Dixie Chicks (playing in St. Louis June 24, 2010) - companion(s) to enjoy it with would be nice, too)
• New Wardrobe additions
      My fave stores include: Lane Bryant, Torrid, New York & Company, B&Lu, Old Navy
• Rocking graphic tee-shirts that say anything about being a science or afros or Darwin or Conservation are always a plus
Sponsors for Urban Science Adventures! © (yes, I will happily wear your logo or sticker on my laptop)
      Upcoming travel includes:
      Blogging While Brown Conference in Washington, D.C.
      Miami University in Oxford, Ohio to speak to undergraduate students in a summer science research program
• Fancy pants digital camera w/ macro and zoom capacity
• Mini Netbook w/ USB ports
• Unlimited Panera Bread, Qdoba, San Sai, Noodles & Co. access
• Digital Music Device (what's better iPod or MP3?)
• Hair accessories ala Buffalo Blue Designs or the like (I’ve decided hair ornaments will be my signature look. Can't you see me wearing this at science conference or my first college lecture?).

Graduation is Saturday, May 15, 2010
2:00 pm Ceremony
University of Missouri – St. Louis

I have a host of family and friends coming from all over, plus the family and friends I have already in St. Louis. Graduation weekend is going to be one big shindig. If you’re in town, then you are more than welcome to join us. Leave a comment and your email address and I’ll send you the details.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and celebrating.

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