29 August 2009

Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer

Just in case there is any confusion, I have nothing to do with the Marmorkrebs Twitter feed. I post as DoctorZen there.

25 August 2009

Glad we humans have an endoskeleton...

Because having to ditching your entire skeleton to grow would be no fun at all.

Because the clip is interesting, I’m happy to overlook the spelling of “molting” in the title.

20 August 2009

Marmorkrebs on the road: ESA 2009

Stephanie Jimenez presenting her latest poster at the Ecology Society of America meeting in Albuquerque recently.

11 August 2009

Great moments in crayfish research: Before he was famous

Sigmund FreudToday’s post is a bit of a cheat, because the research is not as well known as the researcher who performed it. Nevertheless, it’s fun to look back into the history of crayfish research and find none other than Sigmund Freud, he of psychoanalysis, dream interpretation, and much more.

In his 20s, Freud was a comparative neurobiologist. His doctoral dissertation was on fish spinal cords. Freud later worked in the lab of Ernst Brücke. There, Freud studied crayfish and freshwater crabs.

Freud’s contribution was apparently quite significant... although it’s sometimes hard to work out exactly what that contribution was. Those of us who do not read German can’t read the original paper, and must rely on the translations of others to get an appreciation of the context and significance of the work. I’ve read Freud’s crayfish described in various ways, ranging from showing that the axons were connected to cell bodies to showing that neurons contained a cytoskeleton.

Freud's drawing of crayfish neuronsUnfortunately, Freud found that research didn’t pay enough for him to get married, so he went into medical practice. And that was the start of the twisting road leading to the work that Freud is best known for.

Given the controversies over Freud’s later work in psychology, however, one could make the case that both biology and psychology might have been better off if Freud stayed a neurobiologist.

Interestingly, Freud was far from alone in starting a research career in invertebrates before becoming famous in psychology.

Jean Piaget worked on snail behaviour, publishing papers while he was still in high school, before his studies on how children think made him the premiere developmental psychologist.

Alfred Binet did his doctoral work on insect nervous systems, which was later overshadowed by his development of one of the first intelligence tests.


Sigmund Freud's place in the history of the neuronal cytoskeleton
The Life and Times of a Ten-legged Cannibal
Freud was a pioneering neuroscientist (Added 10 March 2014)

05 August 2009

Brief cameo in American Scientist

American Scientist, September 2009This blog makes a brief cameo appearance in the “Members in the News” section of the new issue of American Scientist. I guess they used the subtitle because “Marmorkrebs” alone was too cryptic...

04 August 2009

Conferences 2.0

The Ecological Society of America conference is now on. Remember to visit the Marmorkrebs poster on Friday morning, poster PS 88-134.

The question of whether conferences are worth it is worth revisiting. The Byte-Size Biology takes a look at several online science tools, including virtual conferences, and concludes that the virtual conference is not ready yet.

First: virtual conferencing technology sucks. It doesn’t matter if you use a free Skype on a $150 netbook, or a state-of-the art teleconferencing equipment with a 52″ screen and Dolby Surround, piped through at hundreds of Gigabits per second. You will get interruptions, cuts, lags, annoyances and embarrassing moments. Second: social reasons. The important parts of a conference take place in the hallways, poster sessions, meals, banquets and, of course, the pub across the street. Incipient collaborations, exchange of ideas, brainstorming: all those take place around the dinner table and in the halls. With food, coffee and alcohol providing the social lubrication, and the talks and posters the intellectual one. A conference is much more than a series of talks.