Lessons For My Past Self

With over a combined decade of graduate school, a post-doc, and a big-girl job under my belt now, I've been thinking about what I would have said to my past self at the outset. The following ten guidelines are the result of countless noob moves, several dozen dark days, lots of good times, helpful advice, and everything in between. Not sure if it's helpful, but in the spirit of guideline #10, I'm trying to Pay It Forward.

Without further adieu...

Pace Yourself 
You're at the start of what could be a multi-decade career. Right now, everything feels critically important. And while it's good to take things seriously, it's also good to use this time to form habits and boundaries that will serve you in the long run. Keeping healthy, both physically and mentally, is part of a successful career. I say this, not to add extra pressure, but to give you permission to do the things that matter to your holistic well-being, regardless of any outside criticism or judgment.


29th Annual Karger Workshop Program

Below is the program for this year's Karger Workshop (PDF copy here). Hope you can join us! --Ashley

Anatomical Dissections - Past and Present

Later this week, Washington University in St. Louis will be hosting the 2017 Vascular Access Society of the Americas (VASA) Hands-On Practium on Hemodialsis Access. Hundreds of health professionals will be attending to learn more about the latest in vascular access (VA) procedures.

One of the activities available for VASA attendees is a viewing and presentation of human anatomical structures related to VA procedures in the upper limb. Today, some of the WU-SOM anatomy faculty dissected fresh (not embalmed) anatomical specimens, which we'll be presenting for the VASA activity. This was my first-ever dissection of fresh human tissue, and I'm truly honored and humbled to have had the experience.

Human anatomical dissection dates back well over two millennia to Greek physicians in Alexandria. For much of the time since, human dissections were either outlawed or conducted on fresh tissue. However, starting around the time of the American Civil War, embalming became a standard prac…

2017 Karger Workshop Line-Up Now Live

Hi all! Long time, no see!

I'm pleased to share with you the finalized speaker line-up for this year's Karger Workshop in Evolutionary Neuroscience (! The 2017 Karger Workshop is entitled: “From fossils to function: integrative and taxonomically-inclusive approaches to vertebrate evolutionary neuroscience.”

The workshop will feature presentations and discussions that touch on three main subtopics:
Comparative studies of brains in a wide array of extant vertebrate taxa, with special focus on groundbreaking structural and functional neuroimaging techniquesBest practices for the inference, reconstruction, and comparative investigation of endocranial soft-tissue structures in extinct vertebrate taxa Moving towards research that embraces an integrative approach (i.e., incorporating evidence from extinct and extant taxa), with an emphasis on deliberate, incremental studies of nervous system form and function within and across Vertebrata Workshop attendees get a…

What Common Core has that higher ed needs

A random return to blogging, but here goes....

When two educators are married, discussions of pedagogy are inevitable. Tonight's discussion at my house: Common Core (CC) and its eventual impact on higher education. For those unaware, CC is the newly-implemented system that's meant to standardize K-12 education in America. In its infancy, it is a controversial system, mostly because of its revolutionary approach to teaching and assessment (testing), especially for math. CC has its basis in experiential learning and assessment of understanding through written justification. Additionally, students are encouraged to take charge of their learning, while the teacher serves as a guide on the journey. Despite the controversy surrounding CC, it's commendable that CC was structured using the most cutting-edge information about how students learn best. Under CC, lectures, worksheets, and scantrons are a thing of the past. And yet, that's exactly what students will face when they …

What ancient fossils can teach us about cancer today

When you think about cancer, you may think about how it has touched your life personally through a friend or a loved one. You may also consider how cancer is often in the news as novel treatments are tested daily. It seems to many, including medical students, that cancer is a disease affecting those in the here and now. While this is certainly the case, Chris Beard, Curator and Chair of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, encourages med students to learn more about the evidence for cancer in fossil animals. Not only does in give perspective on how old cancer really is (hundreds of millions of years at least), it also helps students understand cancer within an evolutionary context. Dr. Beard also hopes that, if given a dramatic example of cancer in fossils, medical students will be more likely to remember the experience and to correctly identify and diagnose cancer in future patients.

Fascinating stuff! More information and a great little video fe…

Utah Trip!

Hi everyone (all 3 of you),

Apologies are in order for the long break between posts. The week following my last post was finals week at WIU - always a crazy time. Since finals week, I have spent two weeks in Hanksville, Utah with the Burpee crew digging up dinosaurs and doing geology sleuth work in the field. The weather has been unbeatable, and our group is fantastic. Tomorrow is our last full day in the quarry before heading back to Macomb. I thought I would be remiss if I didn't post at least once while here.

We have found numerous new bones, including several partially articulated limb elements, pectoral and pelvic bones, ribs, verts, and a camarasaur dentary with other associated (possible) skull fragments. With the high rate of new bone discoveries, efficient mapping has become a high priority and dominates the days of several of our team members. Additionally, we are starting to get a good sense of what occurred at our site ecologically, and we've been able to supp…