This method is more precise than past approaches, where scientists assumed that insects primarily ate the plants they were found on

Photo by Boudhayan Bardhan on Unsplash

Host-plant interactions have long been a topic that intrigues scientists. However, for smaller species, like insects and their larvae, it has not always been possible to conclusively identify interactions. Just because you find a larva in a certain tree, doesn’t necessarily mean that tree is itself the larva’s meal of choice. It could very well be eating lichens, mosses, fungi or other much smaller species associated with the larger plants.

But now, thanks to advances in DNA sequencing and the vast DNA reference library datasets, scientists now can turn to genetics to confirm associations and make new insights into the…


My experience of exploring animal adoption/selling platforms

Photo by May on Unsplash

I’m “on the market” (or on the shelter since I intend to adopt) for new pets and I am currently considering rodents as they are the best suitable companions for my current situation.

As I started researching the options for adoption and for cages and care material in my new city in Germany, I was surprised by two things.

The first surprise was when looking through ebay classifieds, mainly for cages, and stumbled upon ads for adopting mice, hamsters and rats. At first I was a bit skeptical. Throughout my time involved in animal welfare at University and also keeping…


From someone who left the bubble

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about the career progression issues (namely funnel or pyramid) in academia, so much so that even Science and Nature now regularly have articles about the topic (e.g.: Don’t let academia consume you). Even though the topic is now widely spread, academia itself has not made much progress beyond “awareness” of the issue. There simply isn't enough jobs for all PhDs and postdocs, and yet we are wildly unprepared for the real world.

Since I started putting more effort into looking for a job outside of academia, I noticed…


Shier pups exhibited more variation in their behavior, a sign of an ability to adapt

Photo by Mac Gaither on Unsplash

Animal behavior is often consistent. Some individuals are consistently more aggressive, more exploratory, or more bold than others. It’s also repeatable: individuals behave consistently through time — they are shy when they are young and remain shy when adults. Animals have personalities just as much as humans. In populations where it is possible to study behavioral flexibility and environmental changes, researchers are finding out that different personalities may have different advantages.

A long-term study of Galápagos sea lions by a group at the Bielefeld University in Germany and Ecuadorian researchers sheds light on personality and response to stress. The Galápagos…


A story about a rare genetic disease case

This is how I came to find out about the story of Lucy, a newborn in Canada diagnosed with the genetic disease Spinal muscular atrophy 1 (SMA1). Without treatment, life expectancy is of 2 years. Treatment currently costs 3 million Canadian dollars. Her family has a Gofundme page to pay for the treatment:

Over the course of the last few months, I have been looking for and exploring jobs in the area of genetics outside of Academia. One growing and promising area — now that we have a vast amount of information and data available — is genetic diagnostics. …


Please, act accordingly

Statue in Sigmaringen, Germany

The world seems to be divided in those who have become neurotic about COVID-19, those who are acting like nothing is happening anymore and (honorary mention because this is not about them) the deniers/conspiracy theorists. I identify with the first group.

(Memes are one thing helping me keep sane, so I shall add a lot of them here in case it helps others people too.)


Animal Education

“How well do you really know your cat?” — a cat book review

I studied dog genetics and behavior during my PhD (yes, I know the title says cat). During that time, I talked to a lot of pet (mainly dog) owners. One thing that really struck me is that almost all of them would give me a lecture about their dogs and not believe me when I told them something science based that did not match what they saw in their pets.

You see, they forget or don't realize, that for scientific studies, researchers gather data on dozens to thousands of animals to draw conclusions, find patterns and eventually give advice. Your…


Small business owners, artists and writers use social media and the Internet to promote their work. It is, after all, the best place to be.


The reason you say, “awwww” when you see a puppy is the same reason it is so difficult to convince people that baby tiger petting is wrong

Netflix´s hit series Tiger King is back for a new wave of attention since the main zoo (now owned by Jeff Lowe) depicted in the series re-opened during the first week of May to long queues and large crowds. Baby tiger petting sessions — one of the problematic activities portrayed in the show — are still being offered.

Photo by Paula Borowska on Unsplash

When the series first came out, several researchers, zookeepers and committees from serious accredited zoological facilities released statements against the practices it highlighted. The main criticism from animal welfare experts was the lack of information about the animals and their treatment. Some…


These are my first impressions as a scientist

(I will try to refrain from all the new 2020 clichés because they also make me cringe.)

As we move forward to keep work going, many conferences postponed their dates to next year. Others have switched to be completely online. We are all learning as we go. So we should now start discussing what is working and what is not. Though this will be influence by people’s preferences.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

In the scientific world, it all “started” with that first big Physics conference (American Physical Society’s March Meeting) in Denver, US. The official dates were March 2–4, the organizers cancelled the conference…

Fernanda Fadel — Science writer

Biologist focused on animal behavior, zoology, genetics and medical topics. https://linktr.ee/ferrufa

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