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December 2016

Is summer the best time for ant outreach? A Google-trends analysis

How popular is the word ‘ant’ in google searches from different countries? How does it change over time?

I used Google trends to check that. World wide, there seems to be a seasonal pattern in the search popularity.

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Note: Here 100 means the most popular (given the range of time, country, topic (Biological sciences etc). 0 means less than 1% popular relative to the most popular score (of 100).

Although it could be biased by the population who knows how to use internet and have access to it, North American countries like Canada and US follow a seasonal search pattern with summer periods getting more searches.

 

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The United Kingdom has a similar pattern too.

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Perhaps it could be to get rid of ants in their houses. (This is definitely a correlation and a speculation, but not causation). But not all ants are bad. Maybe summer time is the best to teach people about ants, organise ant outreach programs and school visits etc. Although any time is good time to teach anything (almost), making more online content during the summer months can be helpful for people and raising awareness about ants, diversity, conservation, pest control, and all the cool ant science!

I expected a similar pattern for most norther hemisphere countries, but it was not true for countries like Russia and Germany (although there seems like a weak pattern towards recent years in Germany). It could be due to various reasons like culture,and internet literacy/usage/availability.

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Souther hemisphere countries like Australia have a peak in its summer time (Dec-Feb). But this was not true for South Africa.

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So more ants for the summer. More ant searches. More ant content for the summer. That is what we need.

 

Ants and sci-comm: a podcast interview

I was interviewed by James O’Hanlon for his podcast in-situ science. Check it out here:

Ep 12. Ants, ants and more ants with Ravindra Palavalli Nettimi

 

How to be sane during insanely frustrating PhD days?

I think many PhD students agree that it gets really frustrating at times when experiments do not work, writing is impeded, procrastination creeps up all over, or you do not find suitable ant colonies to conduct your experiments even after spending many days (in my case). Something needs to be done. Here is what I think might help, and it helped me.

  1. Do something new for a day. Learn about something other than your PhD work. I went on an insect walk (looking for an interesting wasp) with a fellow PhD student at ANU (The Australian National University). I got motivated to learn more about other miniature creatures (apart from ants). I got an idea for a new structure for my blog, which you will read here in future.
  2. Talk to your peers about it and realise you are not alone in that.
  3.  Volunteer for a day if you can. It can have transformative effect on you when you talk with other people and about their work (non-science). I visited ANU community garden to learn about gardening.
  4. It is just a state of mind, of many possible states. So the feeling can be changed. It helps to change routines or maybe the way your desk is ordered. I changed the times of my work slightly, walked to uni instead of biking, started reading a book on insects while waiting, cleaned up my desk space…
  5. Lastly, write about it and share your thoughts with others.

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