Sunday, January 12, 2014

I've started science bloggin'

Since arriving in Oxford, I've been trying out a few new things. I've been rowing with a college squad, attending different cultural events including ballets, and have become particularly fond of a slew of uniquely British foods (Cream tea anyone?).

One incredibly rewarding aspect of student life that I have become involved with is science communication. I've taken a position doing online pieces for Bang Science - a student run, 'graphically gorgeous' science-media publication. It's been a lot of fun, and am delighted with the unexpected, and overwhelmingly positive response to my pieces! Unfortunately, it did distract a bit from my personal blogging - but I did want to take a moment to link to some of my recent posts. It's a different sort of flavour, but it's a medium that allows me to creatively communicate science to a wider audience.

I've linked to each of my articles published so far. The Online Editors are introducing a special arthropod section for my posts - which is also very exciting. If you've got a minute, please considering clicking on through the articles to learn something new!

Invasive Ladybirds Escape Parasitism
This piece looks at an invasive species that is creeping across the UK, and many other parts of the world.  Poor rates of parasitism by natural enemies seems to be a causing factor. Richard Comont - a member of my lab group lead this very interesting study. If you're looking for any information about UK insects, or any other sort of wildlife - Richard is a fantastic wealth of knowledge. His website can be found here.
The ladybird Coccinella septempunctata with a parasitoid cocoon, probably of
Dinocampus coccinellae (Braconidae). Photo by Giles San Martin

Seven Facts About The Worlds Most Festive Ungulates
Whether you call them caribou, or reindeer - people throughout the world are familiar with this charismatic deer. Have a read to discover some strange and wonderful facts about Donner, Blitzer, and the rest of the ol' gang.
Photo by Dean Biggins: Wikimedia Commons
No Job Too Dirty: A Peculiar & Resourceful Ecological Niche
Some people have dirty jobs. Some insects also have dirty jobs. Some insects have jobs that are so down-right dirty, that you'll find yourself cringing. Uroxys gorgon fits that description to a 'T'. Dare to click through?

 Uroxys gorgon (Arrow) – Photo by Trond Larsen

What Candy Can Tell Us About Fisheries Management
This 'unorthodox' study simulated fisheries management through making a bowl of candy fish available to a group of hungry office mates.. Through secret monitoring, researchers found that the candy fish populations underwent some pretty strenuous pressures - but things became brighter when leaders emerged organically. Why not take a look?
Sugary snack, or model organism?
Photo by Bishonen: Wikimedia Commons
Scaling-up Scat Studies 
This piece is looking at my study organisms - dung beetles. It shows how through collaboration with citizen scientists, that valuable data can be collected. I've been inspired by this piece, and am already brainstorming ideas like this for when I (really hope work will be available) return to Nova Scotia for research upon completion of my PhD.

 Figure by Kaartinen et al. 2013)
The Sexually Confusing Lives of Male Insects
Insects have never (rightfully) been known for their superior intelligence. However, insects are known for their ability to reproduce (rightfully). Sometimes these two tendencies tend to become intertwined, where males mistake other males for interested females. This post reviews a review of male-male sexual encounters in insects.
Red flour beetle - Photo by Peggy Greb: Wikimedia Commons
A recent paleontologist study found two froghoppers coupled in a loving embrace.The fossil was so complete that the genitalia was discernible. The froghoppers seemed to take on a different position that extant species, however they do seem to be having sex with genetalia that has been mostly unchanged for over a million years.

Photographs of the froghopper fossils with accompanying diagrams. Scale bars = 1 mm. From Li et al., 2013; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078188.g001

Well folks, hope you enjoy the science blogging. I'll try to post links whenever a new piece comes out, which should be about weekly. Hope that your 2014 is off to a fantastic start!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Eyes in the boat six!

It's been an absolutely lovely week here at Oxford. I feel that I've been fortunate in hitting the ground running. I'm surrounded by kind, funny, and very intelligent people. Something new that I have been able to enjoy since arriving has been rowing. Originally I thought that the early mornings would be a little bit too difficult but after some thought - I decided to give it a try. Looking back now, I am incredibly grateful that I did!

A Saturday outing on the Isis
College rowing is arranged into three distinct parts over the Oxford academic year. The three components correspond to three separate races. As I a write this, I have finished racing for the first term - Michaelmas - A term reserved solely for novice racing. This gives everyone a chance to compete regardless of ability. During first semester the River Isis is filled with boats, as teams of nine (eight rowers + cox) putter about for the first time on water. On the riverside foot-path, coaches cycle shouting their directions, and encouragement.

'Eyes in the boat Six!'
I rowed on stroke side this semester, in position six. This meant there were two people between myself and the cox. The cox sits facing forward, at the stern.To save time, and improve clarity - the coaching staff referred to us by our position within the boat. 'EYES IN THE BOAT SIX!'  was a command that was yelled out on a fairly regular basis. Being a nature-nerd with a justified reputation for fits-of-spaciness, rowing practices provided a fantastic opportunity to gaze at ducks, swans and mistletoe from atop the murky waters of the Isis. I mean, if a red kite dipped behind an ancient oak - would you ignore it? I think not. Notable sightings included: call ducks, kingfishers, mute swans, magpies, blackbirds, English robins, and jays! If only there was room for a camera, and my RSPB field guide...

'I thought you were Canadian?'
The morning practices are cold. I didn't bother purchasing any long under-armour sort of clothing. I am part of a distinct short-wearing minority. Once out on the water, the workout keeps one from shivering too badly. When returning the boat to the shed after the workout - the water splashed into the boat during the outing is generally tipped onto our heads. At that point -  I'm usually freezing, and audibly expressing it - through 'comical' teeth-chattering. Often it's a quick sprint back to college, where a traditional English breakfast calls my name from the buttery. There's just something about those baked beans, and rashers of bacon that seem irresistible after a morning row.

Magdalen Mens Novice 1: All smiles from the Isis
Luckily, standing at 6'2 - my general lankiness allows me to be a fairly effective rower. My technique is not as refined as most, and I'm not as strong as some of the other fellows. Luckily, I was able to splash my way onto a spot in the Men's first novice boat. We have a unique boat in terms of most. Most friends involved in rowing do so with a group of British undergraduates. Our team was a little different in that six of us are graduate students (Theoretical Chemistry, Structural Biology, Condensed Matter Physics,  Theoretical Physics, Zoology, and Law (II)). The remaining two are taking one of Oxford's most renowned undergraduate programs (Politics, Philosophy and Economics).

Breaking the second preconception that Oxford rowing is generally a sport dominated by Brits - we are represented in our boat by eight different countries: Spain, Australia, Canada, England (II),  Russia, Greece, France, and Germany. Our team had a great time in and out of the water, it was a pleasure to row with such lovely people. Our coaches Lok, and Chris (standing on the far edges, left and right respectively - hailed from Hong Kong, and New Zealand - continuing to add international flavour to our rowing team).

Magdalen Novice Men I
L-R: Backrow: Tim, Dmitri, Scott, Paul
Middle: Lok, Alex, Antonio, Christos, Max, Chris
Horizontal: Fran - Our lovely Cox!

We had a fantastic season racing. Hours on the stationary rowing machines (ergs), paired with countless hours on the water - had us feeling fit, and ready for some racing action. At the Novice Regatta we breezed through our first few matches against Merton II, and St Johns II. We came up in the round of 16 against St Hugh's College. This was a bit problematic, as they were one of the best teams on the river. We lost by a 1/4 length after a hard, windy, and cold race. Hugh's eventually made it to the semi finals, losing to the eventual winners after catching a crab

As the term draws to a close, I've begun working out a bit with more experienced members of the college teams. I've found quickly that I've got a long way to go if I hope to snag a spot on the second or third team this team this term (fingers crossed). I'm so pleased to have found such a Oxonian way to exercise, while making a variety of fantastic friends! Rowing has been a perfect introduction to Oxford, if you find yourself studying where a rowing is accessible - I would whole-heartedly recommend it!

With squidgy feet, boundless energy, and chattering teeth - yours truly.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Oxford Magic

There's an immediate magic one can feel about Oxford. It's in the old stone walls, the meadows, and the church bells. Though this magic can be difficult to pinpoint, there's one place that it exists in an absolute, and definitive way; It's in our class of 2013 Canadian Scholars.
It's incredible to me that eleven people can find such common ground. Though we all come from different backgrounds, we are able to merge together in a seamless way. Throughout the week we go about our ways: from reading about lasers physics, to discussing population health, and starting-up feminist reading groups. We give quick waves to one another during morning outings on the Isis, and chance encounters from across the traffic of High Street. We fire one another messages through computers, mobile phones, and 'pidge'. We go about our wildly diverse routines, and then we find ourselves back together again. 
It's difficult to get eleven people together at once. Truthfully, it doesn't happen very often. We meet up throughout the week, in ephemeral, and dynamic groups. We convene in coffee shops, in impossibly tiny pubs, the corners of busy intersections, and outside college gates. Someone will bring a friend from college, from a sports team, or their lab. Another Canadian Scholar will drop by fleetingly on their way to a panel discussion. The group is never quite the same, and that is truly a beautiful thing.
The Rhodes community encourages us to expand and explore entirely new fields. It dares us to debate, discuss, and to challenge one another to think differently. We are here to acquire specific knowledge and skills that will give us the tools to 'fight the worlds fight' within our own fields. Arguably, diversifying our knowledge, and expanding our horizons is equally as important as the fantastic education we are getting from our respective academic departments. I feel we are all taking this to heart as we taste different and wonderful things across disciplines.

Though I am endlessly thankful for the entire Rhodes community, there is something special about our group of Canadians. Taking the time to discuss the latest Ottawa news, respective difficulties with our academic programs, and laughing together about stories from home is enormously therapeutic.
We've become like a family over the past nine weeks. A friend approached me last week, and asked how our group became close so quickly. I thought about it for a moment, but the only answer I could muster was: 'Everyone is thoughtful, intelligent, and incredibly kind. We are open and honest with one another. It is a group of truly good people, and I don't think there's anything more to it'.  
I can see the same level of connection in place with the upper year Canadian scholars. I could see the same understanding between alumnus at the Sailing Dinner. The same magic that hangs over Oxford is magnified within the Rhodes community. Once you've experienced the magic, it seems to stay with you forever.
It's comforting to know that there is a community of alumni waiting for us after this grand adventure comes to an end. While we've all experienced Oxford, it will be fascinating to share our diverse, and unique impressions of such a phenomenal time and place. It will allow the Oxford and Rhodes experience to live-on, and proliferate in our day-to-day lives. Now if that isn't magical, I don't know what is. 
**This piece was submitted for the Canadian Association of Rhodes Scholars Newsletter

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Little bit of sunshine, and a whole lot of happiness

If there is any prevailing theme on my first few weeks living and studying in the United Kingdom it would likely be happiness. To feel as adjusted as I do, in a completely unfamiliar setting is an odd but strangely comforting feeling. Finding my footing has never been something that I've struggled with, although this new adventure brings my comfort to a new level.

I've been trying to analyze what it is that's making this adjustment so positive. Being away from the people, culture, and landscape that I am so firmly attached to has been fare more natural than I ever could have anticipated. I've been trying to understand it; to pick away at the pieces, and try to decipher what exactly is keeping me on such a high.

Gardens at Rhodes House, Oxford, UK
To begin with, I think a significant part of my happiness is due solely to the physical attributes of this wonderful city. Oxford is without a doubt the most interesting place I have experienced. Tradition, culture, politics, and history are all whorled into a fantastic town that is full of adventure, mystery, and head-scratching-questions that leave you pining for answers. There is often little rhyme or reason, but then fantastically effective, and well orchestrated ideas that are beneficial to everyone. There are beautiful hidden gems of pubs on back roads. There are little gardens waiting to be discovered seven-feet-up on rock walls. There are knitting-installations, and wood ovens inside of lunch trucks. A pair of magpies live outside my room. I've practically given myself whiplash from backward glances at period fancy-dress (costumes), bell fuchsia, and grape-vines with a base comparable to a laundry basket. There are stories waiting to be discovered, and questions to be asked. It's confusing, and overwhelming, and pleasing. You've got to come visit. I'll have you for a pint.

A conversation between a hard-looking pair - Magdalen College, Oxford, UK

Besides the excitement and beauty of the city, it seems that it's the people that have truly made this transition so natural. No matter where I am, or what I'm doing - at Oxford, I'm surrounded interesting, intelligent and kind individuals. I've taken a quick moment to divide these peoples into different communities.

My lab group is extraordinary. I am sharing a lab group with some of the most knowledgeable entomologists I have ever met. Their intelligence starts with knowledge of insects, and continues into statistics, and natural history. It then moves into law, policy making, history, and culture. I have moments where I feel absolutely naive, bumbling, and frantic. Despite this, I can feel myself being pulled up to a whole new standard of thinking, debating and asking questions. It's an appreciated opportunity to interact with such wonderful people on a daily basis. Many of the people within my group are close to finishing, or defending their D.Phil theses - a perfect example to the wonderful things I could be capable of accomplishing with significant hard-work and dedication in these next few years.

Along with my lab group, my college community has also been fantastic. I've been fortunate to become friends with both undergraduate, and graduate students across a wide variety of disciplines. Sitting and enjoying a beer, can quickly turn into an ethical discussion, a crash-course in British history, or a lesson in classical literature. The Middle Common Room (MCR) is a social hub for the graduate students within the college. They provide fantastic opportunity for meeting new people within the graduate student community. The events are fun, frequent, and casual including weekly brunches, 'liquid lounges', and exchanges with other college MCR groups. As I continue to find my footing, I'm looking forward to becoming more involved in this dynamic group of people, and move into a role where I too can contribute to improving student life within Magdalen College.

The Rhodes community has been another fantastic backbone, crucial to my happiness and success here at Oxford. Since arriving, I've been involved with a few different parts of the Rhodes community. I've been taking a weekly mindfulness course, which is something new to me. The course was developed by an Oxford fellow, and teaches methods to become increasingly aware of your daily life. It involves daily meditation, paired with weekly exercises. Personally, I've experienced a deep feeling of responsibility, and pressure associated with accepting the Rhodes scholarship. The sessions are helping me relax, and become increasingly more mindful of myself, and my actions. The second group I've become involved with is a discussion group that tackles the issues and ethical dilemmas that come along with accepting a scholarship, funded by exploitative practices. The sentiment that comes along with the Rhodes Scholarship can sometimes feel more like an overwhelming pressure than opportunity. This group of scholars, is helping me work through how I will define, and approach "Fighting the Worlds fight", both as a scientist, and as a leader.

Autumn foliage near one of my favourite fair-weather reading spots. Rhodes House, Oxford, UK

Finally, I have been falling in love with a new sport. I've functionally set my badminton racket in the corner, and have put my running shoes under the bed. I've started rowing with the Magdalen College Boat Club. Being tall, and in reasonably good physical condition - I've found the transition to be quite natural. The early mornings on the Thames, evening sessions 'erging' in the college gym never fail to put a mile-wide smile on my face. We have a regatta coming later in the term, I can't wait to see how our group stacks up against other novice teams. The exercise is absolutely phenomenal. The amount of teamwork required to allow eight guys to pull a boat through the water smoothly, is more than I ever could have expected. The social interaction at the boathouse, at the gym, and walking through Christchurch meadows in the morning has provided wonderful opportunity for conversation, and discussion. I feel so lucky to be included in yet another tight-knit community here at Oxford.

Two rowing buddies walking back through Christ Church Meadow after a morning river session

If you were to ask me how I'm doing, I would tell you that I'm thriving. I'd tell you that I am overwhelmed by the sights, the sounds, and by all of the information that I have at my fingertips. I'd tell you that I'm missing my friends, colleagues, family, and girlfriend. I'd tell you that I have a new-found appreciation for people who managed to write their dissertation on a typewriter, and draw their figures by hand.  It's been an incredible journey so far, and it's really only just begun. Thank-you for following along, and sharing this adventure with me.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pointless babble? The importance of Twitter to one Canadian entomologist

Recently the Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Canada (ESC) published a short editorial on the Society's use of Twitter. The author didn't find Twitter to be of particular importance or interest, as can be gleaned from this short excerpt:

Out of curiosity, I then turned to the [Canadian Entomological] Society’s Twitter link to see how the posts for this year fitted into the categories used by Pear Analytics. First, the good news! Of about 100 posts since 1 January, only a handful fall into the pointless babble category. However, a very large number of the remaining posts (even excluding those that are retweets) simply present information that is already available elsewhere. In short, I see very few tweets that can be considered ‘useful …. to our Society’. 

I will admit that I didn't find this editorial to be particularly fair, but the author invited a response. This is mine:

Twitter connects researchers, allows them share knowledge and promotes collaboration. Updates are concise, and instantaneous. The software is user-friendly and free. As Marshall McLuhan famously said "The medium is the message". I fail to see what is flawed with a medium that is accessible, social, succinct, and informative.

To illustrate the point, I will share some of the ways that Twitter has been useful to me as a Canadian entomologist. Likely, others would have similar experiences using Twitter as a tool in their day-to-day lives. 

a. Creating connections with entomologists across Canada and the world

Twitter is a place for collaboration among different people from Canada, and all over the globe. To put things in perspective to the Entomological Society of Canada - through Twitter, I am in fairly regular contact with three recent recipients of the C. Gordon Hewitt Award. This prize is awarded to an individual under the age of forty, who has made outstanding contributions to entomology in Canada. @CMBuddle, @docdez and @KirkHillier have all been recipients within the last ten years. These three people, spread geographically across Canada, are incredibly successful researchers whom I look up to. I doubt that I would have any sort of regular interaction with them, if it weren't for Twitter. 

b. Learning insect identification from enthusiasts across Canada and the worldI learn something new about insects every day via Twitter. I have had expert help on identifying butterflies from @AndyBugGuy - a lepidopterist from Florida. I have also had help identifying a variety of flies from @BioInFocus, a very helpful PhD student from the University of Guelph. I was even able to connect with a future Oxford lab-mate @RichardComont who has a wealth of knowledge about seemingly any living thing (particularly ladybirds). These interactions would not have been possible without the use of Twitter. 

c. Provision of opportunities to collaborate, and communicate
Twitter has encouraged me to practice my communication skills. Writing is a skill that many students (myself included) can find challenging. Twitter has given me opportunity to blog about my research with the ESC Blog, and even collaborate with an extremely effective, and innovative scientific communicator - @CMBuddle. You can read our two-part collaboration here, and here. 

d. Sharing the beauty, and magic of studying entomology
Any given day, there are magnitudes of beautiful insect images being shared on Twitter. Consider the work by Canadians @GeekInQuestion, @NashTurley, or our Southern neighbour @Myrmecos. It's a refresher to have daily reminders of why I have chosen to become an entomologist. Insects are beautiful, diverse interesting, and significant. You can never know it all. Could there be a better way to remind yourself of this than Twitter? 

An ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) taken August, 2013 - P.Manning

e. Learning about new opportunities 
Currently, I am a D.Phil student at the University of Oxford. This was only possible through a scholarship that I was fortunate enough to receive. I began to consider applying when a CBC article flashed across my Twitter feed in November of 2011.

About a year later, I had something similar appear on my Twitter feed. 

Upon reading the first tweet from @CBCNS, a seed was planted that allowed for me to put my name out to achieve something I had never even considered, or thought possible. After I post this entry, I will be heading to the Radcliffe Science Library to read a past thesis on dung beetle ecology.

If you want to harness the power of Twitter, it is imperative that it is used as an effective tool. Follow people or organizations that interest, excite, or inspire you. Post and share information that you find useful, fascinating, or even funny. Effective sharing and discussion of relevant, and interesting content is exactly what science communication is about. For these reasons, I passionately believe that Twitter can play a useful role for the Entomological Society of Canada. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

First Impressions

Things are off to a flying start here in Oxford. I still can't believe that this institution is actually a university. Sometimes, I need to take a step back and tell myself that this is not a JK Rowling Novel, and that I should be reading and not staring mouth-agape at stone walls and secret gardens. There is so much beauty spread throughout the campus, that it can truthfully be a bit distracting from the entire purpose of why I am reading at this institution.

Morning view from my desk at college accommodations (Magdalen Tower)
Radcliffe Camera - Part of Oxford's Library System
College Grounds

The university is unique, in that it is broken down into a college system. This is associated closely with Oxford and Cambridge and is known as the Oxbridge System. It means that each student is associated with both a department and a college. Traditionally, the student lives in accomodations provided by their college, and takes classes outside of the college. If you're an undergraduate student, you take tutorials at the College you attend - small tailored group sessions that allow you to interact with experts in the field. Graduate students taking the research route, do not generally do this - but instead complete their research independently from their college and interact mainly with one supervisor affiliated with their department. This is similar to the model that we use back in Canada, although there seems to be less interaction between students and their supervisors in the UK.

My beautiful morning walk to Zoology

I'll admit that the College that I applied to and was admitted to was chosen quite haphazardly. I had heard fantastic things about every College at Oxford. I chose Magdalen because it guaranteed three years of College Accomodations, and because they had a deer park that inspired CS Lewis (a former fellow of Magdalen) to write his well-celebrated books about the fictional land of Narnia. I couldn't be more delighted with the choice that I made.

'New Building' - Magdalen College
The college is beautiful in every single way. We have a fantastically active Middle Common Room (MCR) which is the equivalent of a student society for graduate students. The MCR has a beautiful common room, with a tin of chocolate biscuits available for a cup of tea, tonnes of board games for those nights when you need a break from studying. They also have a beautiful bar which is well celebrated around the university as being one of the more lovely, and affordable places to indulge in a pint or two.

My department is interesting in that it shares a building with Psychology. People in the department have been fantastically welcoming, in particular my supervisor who is incredibly kind and very renowned in the field of ecology. It's going to be an absolute delight to work with him. I'm incredibly excited.

The Rhodes Community has been fantastic, and far more cohesive than I anticipated. It's refreshing and wonderful to have access to such a fantastic group of people! Everyone is whip-smart, motivated and so welcoming. It's like having a little family away from home. We've been meeting up for different events throughout the first week, and I'm pleasantly surprised by how close we have become over a short period of time. The Canadian group immediately hit it off! It feels as if they are an old group of friends from home. They've been instrumental in making this transition so natural.

Hanging on top of Magdalen Tower w/ a few dozen Rhodies of 2013

The weather has been moderately nice throughout my time here. We haven't had much in the way of beautiful weather, save one day - but most days are a bit cloudy, often with a little bit of drizzle. The last few days have involved a significant amount of rain, but it's not much different from Eastern Canada.

I've been doing plenty of reading, walking around, and getting my bearings around town. It's been an adjustment to move to a city, in particular, the direction of the traffic makes it quite confusing to move about from one place to another. I'm starting to get a better handle on things, and will be purchasing a bike when I get slightly more comfortable with the way of the road.

I'm off now for a little bit of Brunch with the middle common room group. It should be lovely! Wishing everyone back home a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sailing Weekend

On Friday the 27th of September, I headed to Ottawa, Ontario to start the adventure of a lifetime. In Ottawa, special events were being commemorated - being the weekends where previous Rhodes Scholars would set sail across the Atlantic Ocean, to England. The journey would last four nights, and acted as a fantastic way to become very closely acquainted with the other Canadian recipients. Fortunately/unfortunately, Canadian scholars have been traveling via airplane since the late 1970's.

Two former Rhodes Scholars - Mark Schaan (President of the Canadian Association of Rhodes Scholars) and Katie Sheehan (Editor of the Newsletter) had a fantastic weekend lined up for us! We started by a round table discussion with Graham Flack. Graham is the Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultations and Intergovernmental Affairs). We had a a conversation on policy making within the government of Canada. While this was a topic that was a little different than my usual interests, I enjoyed the discussion, and was thoroughly impressed by the intelligence, and passion that many of the others showed for policy work.

The following morning, we had an opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Canada. Charles Hill, the Curator of the Canadian Collections generously offered to give our group a tour of the Canadian collections. The gallery was set up in such a way, that you walked chronologically through history of Canadian Art. Starting from aboriginal art upon stone, and moving our way up through the ages. My personal favourite was "Jack Pine" by Tom Thompson. Truly, a stunning piece that has captured the imagination of people all across the world. To see it in exact detail was simply breathtaking.

(Photo sourced from Wikipedia page  'The Jack Pine')

We were also fortunate enough to have a look at the famous, (and controversially expensive piece) Maman, by French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. This 30-foot beauty welcomes each and every greeter to the National Gallery. Bourgeois created this in memory of her mother, who died when Bourgeois was just 21. If you look closely, you can see a clutch of marble eggs held within her abdomen.
Maman alongside her big, and beautiful shadow

Later that day we met with Marcil Lauziere, who is the CEO of Imagine Canada. This was a fantastic conversation about the importance of non-profits and charities to the Canadian economy. Did you know there are more than 160,000 registered charities and non-for-profits in Canada?  If you're ever looking for any sort of information regarding non-for-profits, or charities within Canada - Imagine Canada is a wonderful resource to start with.

That evening, we had a sailing dinner at the National Arts Centre. Named after the traditional method of traveling to England, this was the formal dinner where we had the opportunity to meet previous scholars. Dinner was delicious, discussion was lively, and there was a brilliant key-note address by former scholar Lori Ormrod. The address held the attention of all in the room. Oxford was described as being magical, whimsical, like nowhere else in the world. Just several days into my stay here, I can honestly say I'm picking up on that already.

The following day, we were able to have a fantastic tour of the Canadian Supreme Court, by a former Rhodes Scholar - Steve Aylward. We had a lovely tour, and discussion. Architecture was discussed along the main part of the building, and we were given a fantastic insight as to what happens behind the scenes at the Supreme Court of Canada. The main lobby is without a doubt, the grandest room I have ever seen in Canada.

Exquisite lighting at The Supreme Court of Canada

After we finished our delightful tour, we had the afternoon to explore Ottawa. Some of my newly acquainted friends and I headed to the Byward Market. We met up with two good friends: Adrienne (mentioned earlier), and Julie - a good friend from my undergrad institution who is studying Medicine at University of Ottawa. We enjoyed a delicious market lunch, then took a long walk along the Rideau Canal. Indeed, a fantastic way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Spending time with two lovely people!

After saying 'Good-bye' to my Ottawa friends, re-packing our suitcases, and taking in one last coffee at Tim Horton's our group was off to Oxford via London to meet up with the other Canadian Scholars, and start the adventure of a life-time.

I'll keep you posted!