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Welcome to the #BIOL4095 blog (updated in 2022)

Message to WINTER Term 2022 students. For some reason, you are NOT seeing my updated title to reflect the change in year. It should say: Welcome to the #BIOL4095 blog (updated in 2022) but is not showing this and I cannot figure out why the changes I made are not visible to you. Keep blogging here!

In 2014, I began incorporating the social media communication skills that I learned and honed while being the director of York University’s Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) from 2006-14. IRIS was pan-university and inter-disciplinary.

At IRIS, I collaborated with colleagues from across the university, including Political Science and Osgoode Hall Law School. Working in these interdisciplinary teams and groups meant that I had to explain my science and ecology research very clearly to colleagues from quite different fields. You can find some of this research at my Google Scholar page. As well, students from Schulich Business School and AMPD, or the Faculty of Fine Arts, as it was then known, taught me how to design websites, blog and use social media.

Learning and practicing new and different forms of science communication is especially important in today’s world where science, scientists and evidence-based policy are being attacked in organized and targeted disinformation and propaganda campaigns. Our Applied Plant Ecology course covers diverse topics, including climate change, invasive species, food security and forest management. Learning how to explain the research and concepts involved with these topics is essential skill for Science students. And science blogging is a great way to practice this.

BIOL4090 is disrupting my memorize and forget cycle, I never knew you had to actually learn in University...

I gave students lots of choice in their blogging options. Some students have found this scary! Transitioning from lower-level Biology courses, where you think, and may even have been taught, that the pathway to success is to memorize and mindlessly regurgitate material, to the critical thinking demanded in upper-level courses, is tough for everyone. It was for me, when I was an undergraduate.

But, the good news is, that with clear teaching and guidance, once students analyze and reflect on the process of becoming an informed, critical thinker, they discover that having a lot of choice in your assignments can be fun and satisfying.

Some of the broad topics about which students in BIOL4095.30 have been asked to write five blog posts about since 2014 are listed below. I ask students to write a minimum of 250 word posts and a max of 500 words. Now this might seem like easy assignment, but I know that it’s not.

How do I know? Well, I have trouble keeping up with my lab. blog, and when I do this BIOL 4095 science communication blogging assignment alongside my students, I always need more time to write my posts! Needless to say, I am always generous about granting extensions to my fellow bloggers, AKA BIOL4095 students at this site!

Here are the posts that I managed to write for this course in Winter Term 2020 before the demands of switching to 100% online pandemic-driven teaching swamped us all:

This class website was created in 2020 Winter Term, and the earlier course blog posts can be found here:

Professor Dawn Bazely

Here are some of the blog topics from which students in the past have been asked to select 5 different topics. Each of them has a lot of latitude. The 2022 list of 18 topics can be found on e-class.

  1. Write about Tansley’s 1917 paper in the Journal of Plant Ecology – what is missing and why?
  2. Write a post on a peer-reviewed journal paper published in the year of your birth, that is about Plant Ecology in general, and which loosely relates to one of our 11 applied plant ecology lecture topics. Summarize its main research question(s) and its results, and explain why you settled on this particular paper.
  3. International United Nations conventions relating to climate change and vegetation or biodiversity. Find a document on the UN websites and write a short blog post about it, summarizing and explaining it.
  4. Write a post on sustainable agriculture and local food security. Please check out:
  5. Explain Open Access, Metadata and Creative Commons Licenses. Write about an Applied Plant Ecology peer-reviewed document that you discovered that is open access.
  6. Explain the difference between peer-reviewed primary, secondary and tertiary literature and give a specific example of each kind that relates to applied plant ecology. Your examples should be specific documents.
  7. Write a blog post about your experience creating an account to be a Wikipedian and choosing a Wikipedia article that you are going to improve. It must relate to plant ecology.
  8. Listen to a podcast interviewing Dawn Bazely and pick one piece of advice that I have given to science students. Write a post explaining whether you agree or disagree with this advice and why you hold this position. What’s your advice to your fellow science students. p.s. please give the exact time stamp location in the podcast and duration of my advice in the blog post because listening to more than 10 minutes of your professor talking is very boring.
  9. Write a blog post about your visit (go on your own if you didn’t come with the class) to the Sound and Moving Image library, and write about one film that you discovered there: this is the place to write about your favourite penguin documentary or about Rachel Carson!
  10. Write a post about something that you have learned in class about how to use the internet and resources for accessing reliable science info and getting behind paywalls legally. For example, if you have figured out how to use PressReader on your laptop or through the App, to read the Toronto Star article in which Prof. Bazely commented on oak savannah ecology, write a post with instructions to allow your fellow students to do the same:
  11. For one of your five blog posts, write about one of the other two films that you considered nominating for the Applied Plant Ecology film festival, and explain why and how it relates to Applied Plant Ecology
  12. Choose a historical figure in ecology (they should be dead) and write about their life – this should be a usual suspect, as in a white guy (named Charles Elton, Darwin etc.)
  13. You will be hearing from several guest lecturers who are all doing research degrees or are post-docs that are related in some way to Applied Plant Ecology. Write a blog post informed by someone that you have come across during research for your assignments who is NOT an Applied Plant Ecology professor like me (Prof. Dawn) but who works in Applied Plant Ecology research and describe a non-academic (not a prof.) career and the pathway to it.
  14. Write a post about the Monkey Puzzle tree paper that you posted in the monkey puzzle tree forum — Araucaria araucana. Hmm, as of February 8th 2020 no one has posted the reference of a paper that they found about Araucaria araucana.
  15. FREE topic blog post – about one thing or article that you have tweeted about. Eg Liam’s extraordinary story about Aloe vera plants that he tweeted!