Week 1 Day 1 – Dear Diary, today I.

I’m already lost. Literally. My day started with wandering around the university wondering what to do because my designated desk still had its previous occupant’s possessions on it.
So I found one of two trusty companions of western adulthood, coffee (the other being wine), and took stock.


Today I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland in the department of Biological Sciences. The current plan is that my PhD project will the reproductive behaviour and morphology of New Zealand sheet-web spiders Cambridgea spp. with a particular focus on how these behaviours compare between different species within the group.

This is likely to involve the study of male-male competition using both behavioural observations and morphometric analyses of male weaponry i.e. fang thingies called ‘chelicerae’. Depending on which species I ultimately focus on, it may also involve comparison of male genitalia and other reproductive appendages as there is evidence to suggest that there are differences within the males of single species.

I also have an interest in issues around science communication and am trying to find a way in include a reflective component in my PhD which would involve a qualitative analysis of how primary biology research is communicated to the public with the hope of using my own research as a case study.

This week’s goals:

a. Begin reading up on the major areas of research and start developing a sense of the profiles of each of the fields
b. Do the academic integrity module which is compulsory for all doctoral students
c. Get myself a swipe card (which is not necessarily the easiest job on this list)
d. Begin identifying spiders to focus on and use to develop a phylogeny
e. Make as many bad puns as possible
f. Brush up on spider morphology because my main experience so far has been in insects.

I will probably come back in three years, read the preceding paragraphs and laugh/cry/both. But it will be okay because, by that time, I will be a fully fledged…something.

If you put cotton wool in your ears, 'doctoral' almost sounds like 'duck turtle'
If you put cotton wool in your ears, ‘doctoral’ almost sounds like ‘duck turtle’