While it has been quiet for some time in the blog, several things have been going on outside the digital world.
I recently had the honor to make a presentation about farm animal welfare (with extra focus in dairy cows – as expected) to the veterinary students of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where I graduated from as a veterinarian too. It was a delightful evening for several reasons: amidst the difficult financial, organizational and social situations in Greece, it is always hopeful to see young bright minds gather and organize useful events that will enhance their knowledge, skills and future opportunities. The meeting room was full – if my judgment doesn’t fail me, at least 40-50 students showed up for the event. They posed intelligent questions and allowed for interesting conversations regarding farm animal welfare in Greece and abroad. But the event wasn’t only about farm animal welfare – part two targeted welfare in laboratory animals, where scientists Anastasia Tsingotjidou and Rosa Lagoudaki made an excellent introduction to the principles of laboratory animal welfare and underlined the importance of good welfare both for the animals and the experiment results with well-chosen examples.
I have to say that it felt positively strange to present for the first time to an audience of students, at the same place where only a few years ago I sat as a student and listened to my professors sharing their knowledge. It gave me a sense of happiness to be able to share what I have discovered through the courses in applied animal behavior from the Master’s program I am currently attending in Linköping University, as well as from my own work experience. It also gave me a sense of responsibility to search for facts and check them thoroughly before I share information, and to answer with an honest “I don’t know” if I really am uncertain or lack information about something.
While it is everyone’s individual responsibility to fact-check information, people will more or less trust what they hear from someone with a certified amount of knowledge on a subject (and by certification I mean a degree or a worthy amount of work experience – standard credentials that someone has spent time to learn something). Thus, I think it is of great importance for anyone who bears the title of being “knowledgeable” at something to be as factual and accurate as possible, to admit it when one does not know something and to always remind the audience to fact-check whenever possible.
( The presentation I made is available in Greek, English and Swedish through a small “thank you” note I wrote to all participants. Keep in mind that the presentation is custom-made for a veterinary student audience.)
Back to Sweden and the master’s thesis – the results section is on its way to completion and I must say that there are some quite interesting aspects to discuss. However, I cannot reveal anything before May 2017 so stay tuned. : ) I am considering dedicating a small series of posts here at the blog about my R coding experiences and understanding (or lack thereof?), with some examples on how to conduct different basic statistical tests in plain and grouped data. Mind you that I am a very beginner and still learning, but perhaps my code (and the code I was provided with from StackOverflow) might be helpful to other struggling incubating scientists as well. *makes a note in the list of topics I would like to briefly write about here at the blog (all in due time…)*
Finally, even further back in beautiful Vasen Gård in Småland (where I did my data collection during summer), Johanna recently sent me a photo where they are experimenting with providing water and pellets in newborn calves. So far, the calves housed indoors (which is the majority) only had access to milk and hay, but water and pellets (grains) from the very first days of life is very important for the development of a healthy and functional rumen (check page 6 of PennState College of Agricultural Sciences guide Feeding the newborn dairy calf for an excellent image comparison of rumen development depending on newborn calf diet). Here’s the photo with one of the sweet newborns!