For some people, public speaking is more intimidating than swimming with sharks. I’ve never really understood this – sharks can kill you, the sound of your own voice can be quite pleasant (some people love the sound of their own voice)! But never the less, public speaking, be it in presentations or in the workplace, is a skill that requires some development. After years of giving presentations and listening to others in class, I’ve got a few urks that I avoid, as well as a few tips that make presentations a great deal easier. Ill try not to make this too much of a rant, but it may descend.

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So you’re back to Uni this semester – either for the first time since undergrad or returning for your next semester. Either or, it is great to start by getting involved in all the welcome and orientation activities available at uni. Here are my tips to get you back, yes back in black, at uni this year!

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As I promised, I wanted to write you guys a little blog on one of my fruitcake heros, Jimmy Buffet.

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It’s that time of semester: you versus the major essay. Essays are sneaky; they creep up on you and surprise you with their size, throwing their weight around the night before they’re due. I’ve had some mighty battles with essays over the years but I’m getting on top of them with two tricks of my own – preparation and structure.

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In this long overdue blog, just in time for Thursday’s Graduate Options Expo, I thought I should take the time to talk to you all about my research. The subject of my thesis, and area I intend to explore at PhD level, is slash fiction.


WARNING by childrenofthegrave_deviantart

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A perennial problem that is perhaps universal to all students is the difficulty of having to sit down and actually write something. A paper, a letter to a journal editor, whatever, many of us find it difficult to start/finish/write at all. Of course this problem is multiplied a thousand-fold when the document in question is a massive thesis. We’ve all had those days where we sit in front of the computer with a stack of journal articles planning to do a day of writing, before finding that there are so many other better things to do. Make a cup of tea. Check your emails. Do another experiment to (unnecessarily) check your results. Chat with your desk neighbour. Write for two minutes and then manically check your word count. ANYTHING but actually writing.

So are you stuck with your writing? Forget nailing your feet to the floor or bribing yourself with chocolate, Dr Wicked has a better idea. Why not replace your fear of writing with a fear of not writing?! Have a go at Write or Die, where they put the ‘prod’ back in productivity!

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After my sojourn in Seattle, I headed north almost to the border of Canada for a wildlife conference. Right from the start it was a fabulous conference, and the most interesting I have been to by far (in fact, I barely missed any of the talks because they were all so great!). There were about 300 people there, and we had talks about rabies in squirrels, ebola in gorillas, the best way to rescue wildlife caught in oil spills (there is quite an art to this, I didn’t even realise!), toxic algal blooms and their effect on marine life, the social structure of orca pods in Puget Sound, beluga whales, toxicity from lead shot in birds, infectious diseases in Australian finfish, bison breeding programs, toxicity in Kakapo (that will teach them to destroy cars and buildings!), effects of a shipwreck on a coral reef, winter elk feeding grounds... and of course platypuses! My talk went pretty well (got a lot of questions and only counted three people that were asleep...) and I was excited as I came second in the student presentation competition!

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