We’re still here. I’ve been struggling with my own writer’s block while trying to make progress on grants and other projects. I’ve found that I really enjoy editing/fixing other’s papers (not reviewing professionally perse) more than initiating my own–So, send me your unfinished MS’s, I’ll fix them up, for a price. I’m waiting to hear about a couple of papers currently in review that I can’t wait to start talking about–one of which I got to rewrite/reformat 4 different times for different journals. what a life-sucking, joyless enterprise that was.
This past year has turned into a serious effort towards projects in crocodilian anatomy and evolution–not actually sure how-I think mainly because we had a bunch of alligators on hand, and they’re easy to get, or they were just “simple” projects waiting for their chance in the limelight to be expanded upon. Important questions to be answered! Regardless, besides the papers in the pipeline, we’ve got 5 abstracts from the lab in review for SVP, 2 for LACVP in Argentina in September, mostly all with croc themes. Crocodilian muscles, nerves, ligaments, symphyses, vessels, and more! It will be the Crocopocalypse if they all get accepted, and of course published (several are well on their way).
My favorite ongoing project is one on symphyses. Below is a panel from a recent university-event poster featuring imaging and histology of one from an 3-month old alligator. The one histology pic doesn’t do it justice. We’ve been scanning all of our slides on an Aperio slide scanner; which affords the ability to get low mag, whole-joint pics (a real challenge using standard scopes and collaging them), as well as high magnification images from the same image. One can get lost in the images: students show up with freshly scanned histo and I waste their time while I pan around going Oooh and Aaaah, and “holy crap! that’s so cool” (replace crap and cool with more vulgar terms*). Once the papers come out, we’ll be (trying) to host the slide scan data (somewhere) since the software is freely downloadable. But the files are 20-140Mb in size…new challenges around every corner.
A motif I’ve been using recently is combining imaging data and models with histology. We used it in our lizard symphysis paper, gecko joints paper, and in a few others in the works. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback via direct communication, grant reviews, and word of mouth, about this combination of techniques and will continue to use it. I’ve even recommended it in MS reviews as a means to link 3D models with their histological data (whoops, not anonymous anymore). Scout images for histo are certainly not new, nor are scout images for individual CT sections. But apparently, its a lost art, maybe not. Even though CT scanning gets you a lot of great bony data, I think we may have forgotten about the snot that holds all those fun wiggly bits together; so given the right image data, you can meet the histology half way.
*Regarding vulgarity, myself and all of my local (and many other) colleagues have incredibly foul mouths, it’s almost sporting. From my experience, researchers often communicate very effectively using language unacceptable for CDs sold at your local big box store. Our summer undergraduate fellows are here, and one in a neighboring lab apparently takes offense towards “vulgar language”. I haven’t asked exactly what constitutes as vulgar language, but I may have to find out the hard way. Given their fellowship is to expose them to research environments, should they not experience most, if not all aspects? including the normal and acceptable vernacular? It’s not like I go on my almost comically disgusting tirades in front of them; I just speak normally. Poor UG fellows.