Don’t give talks on Week 0 – there is module prep!

We are scrambling to get things in order for the start of semester – almost immediately, in first few weeks of semester, some 250 first year students in LSM1103 Biodiversity will head out from Kent Ridge to Bukit Chandu, and 150 (so far) second years will cross over to Pulau Ubin for LSM2251 Ecology, and the Environment.

We need to sort out logistics, transport, safety, student group allocation and introductions, preparation of the TAs and students. We like to randomise student allocations, get them to know each other a little, have the first lecture well coordinated with the practical briefing and what the TAs will say. It will work but we can be relaxed. And it’s best phylogeny updates are all sorted out – the books can’t keep up these days.

It’s really not the time for giving talks.

Yet when the department coordinators asked early in the year, I said, “sure!” unthinkingly. Well, last year’s session was interesting – and these days the diversity of biologists in the department do struggle to understand each other. It is a wide discipline which includes chemists and physicists. The fragments from my undergraduate biology barely help me cope, but its enough for an inking of what our undergrads wrestle with before specialising in environmental biology.

Since it’s just 15 minutes, I thought what harm, and threw “Negelcted Tropical Species” as a title in the bag. It is pretty much what some 50 students and I have been doing this past decade. They want my slides by noon tomorrow but I am the third last speaker in the midst of session 4.

So I’ll think about it tomorrow night – random thoughts will stitch together subconsciously by morning and I will hammer something out at 7am. My students have been agonising over a variety of public talks these past few weeks for NUS, Science Centre Singapore, Nature Society (Singapore), Jane Goodall Singapore and NParks, so they know what its like.

For now, though, its back to module preparations and the National Day Mangrove Cleanup.

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