Victoria Metcalf

Dr Victoria Metcalf is a marine biologist and former Lecturer in Genetics at Lincoln University. She is currently the National Coordinator of the Participatory Science Platform, Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor. Victoria is mad keen on researching fish and shellfish. She has a PhD in biochemistry and has always been drawn to non-mammalian species because she finds them so incredibly interesting. She has a particular love of cold places and most of her research is on Antarctic marine life although she has studied New Zealand marine species too. Victoria is on Twitter @VicMetcalf_NZ

Keeping The Conversation going - Ice Doctor

May 14, 2015

Over the ditch there’s a little madness going on. The need for humans to converse with each other, to engage in conversation, is in a fashion under threat. That’s because the latest government budget announced includes a halt to the funding for the Australian media website initiative The Conversation. Launched just four years ago in 2011, The Conversation has been a fresh approach to media. In essence, this independent entity cut the middle man out and has provided academics and researchers a means by which to take their opinions and research straight to the public, albeit via the assistance of professional editors to ensure journalistic rigor. It was a stance to bring integrity to journalism and to ensure the public had access to independent and high quality writing. Read More

Puffed up penguins- World Penguin Day - Ice Doctor

Apr 29, 2015

Over the weekend, in case you missed it, it was World Penguin Day, an annual day to think about those dapper-suited gentlemen and women and how much fun they bring to our lives. Let’s face it, I think everyone LOVES penguins. I’m yet to meet anyone that isn’t pretty mesmerised or completely besotted by the waddling birds. Whether you’ve met them many times or just once in person, or your penguin experiences are documentaries, soft toys, Pingu, Happy Feet, March of the Penguins, books, gifs, YouTube, and advertising, it’s clear that penguins captivate in their unique, anthropomorphic way. And there are definitely plenty of reasons to adore them. I could fill a book or more with all the interesting and wonderful things about penguins that there are to know. How deep they can dive and what … Read More

Triple S rated- sex, salmon and scicomm - Ice Doctor

Mar 06, 2015

Milking male salmon- it’s all in the hand hold. A long time ago in a place not so far away, a young research scientist spent several weeks each colour-changing autumn ejaculating male salmon for their rich, milky sperm. It certainly wasn’t your everyday job and it wasn’t all as glamorous as it perhaps sounds. In fact it was about as removed from the ivory tower fantasy of academia as possible. And that young scientist was me. We stood for hours and hours in cold raceway water at the hatchery, with reeking fish-slime infused polypropylene gloves, rubber jacket and lots of layers to keep warm. Forcing oneself to eat sandwiches at lunch with fingers that smelled like salmon. Sitting in an office with the Hatchery lads, entering their male bastion unflinchingly and being eventually accepted I think as they witnessed … Read More

Rise of the rocurs - Ice Doctor

Jan 30, 2015

Rotation curation Twitter sites are rewarding both for curators and readers. Image source: via Wikimedia Commons. Happy New Year to everyone. Mine was actually spent not in the happiest way, listening to the revelry whilst desperately seeking sleep within the confines of a completely not soundproof tent in Kaikoura. Struck down with a nasty gastro bug for two days, just in time for the last eve of the year.* However, the final week before Christmas was spent far more actively- curator of a Twitter account @Biotweeps for the week. @Biotweeps is one of a number of #rocur or #RotationCuration twitter sites.  These rocur sites have a different person in charge or curating them each week. For @Biotweeps it’s a different biologist from around the world every week. Others include … Read More

Sexism, shirts, Sutton and saying goodbye - Ice Doctor

Dec 09, 2014

Sexism is rife in academia and leads to many leaving academic careers. Last week I worked my last day as an academic at Lincoln University, the disestablishment of my position in the protracted restructuring process officially complete. It’s time for a new chapter in what has been a pretty ugly year. Now I start on an adventure into an unknown, which may or may not include academia, may or may not include science. To say the buildup to this day has been difficult is an understatement. To read more about the prelude to this post read Basking in the conference afterglow or swansong? and Impotency problems. At my farewell do, I gave a largely off the cuff speech. It went along these lines: “Where-ever I work I … Read More

Time to get fuzzy about penguins – #voteAdelie Part 1 - Ice Doctor

Nov 23, 2014

How can anyone resist voting for this cutie in the annual Bird of the Year campaign?   Penguins captivate us human-folk. They’re one of those animals that just oozes natural charisma. It’s largely because they appear so like us with their upright stance and their dinner suited attire, their sometimes funky ‘hairstyles’ and their mannerisms that seem just so familiar to us. We call this attribution of human form and characteristics to something clearly not human, anthropomorphic. For animals where we do this it should serve to benefit them- by making us more responsive to their needs from a conservation and protection perspective. Adelie penguins lay two eggs each summer. The most numerous of penguins found in the Antarctic is the Adélie penguin, distributed all around the coastline of the vast icy continent.  Some colonies have up to 100,000 … Read More

Chasing a comet- totally newsworthy so why isn’t it top billing? or best shirt-worthy? - Ice Doctor

Nov 14, 2014

Welcome to a comet. Photo by European Space Agency taken by Philae. Philae may have bounced off the comet before landing, but it was the local media lack of focus on this event that had the real lack of thrust. This week has seen a truly epic event in human history. It’s an incredible week for space exploration and research as well.  After ten years of waiting and untold hours of human effort and planning, the European Space Agency unmanned space probe Rosetta disengaged her landing vehicle Philae Lander and landed on the comet 67P. Landed on a comet! Cheer here _______. If this event sounds simplistic, it’s not, even to a mere biologist. Comet 67P was travelling at an astonishing 66,000 km/h and to prepare for the landing Rosetta needed to … Read More

Fresh frozen: Antarctic Marine Protected Area talks fail again - Ice Doctor

Oct 31, 2014

A typical sized Antarctic toothfish caught by a New Zealand fishing vessel in the exploratory Ross Sea fishery. The latest round of annual talks of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) have just wound up in Hobart. For the fourth time running they looked set to fail to reach a consensus on the establishment of large Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Ross Sea and Eastern Antarctica. *Since publishing this post they have confirmed to have failed. In an ideal world perhaps marine exploitation of the Antarctic would never have occurred. Gaining agreement on Marine Protected Area proposals around the Antarctic in discussions at the present time would then seem under such a scenario to be a straightforward business. In reality though, pretty … Read More

Getting all atwitter about science - Ice Doctor

Oct 17, 2014

Image source: Wikimedia Commons uploaded by The Pink Group Recently the Minister of Education , Hon Hekia Parata, suggested introducing new assessments for Years 9 and 10 at school. The tone of the conversations on education in general I have been having in recent months with teachers leads me to think that new assessments are not exactly what teachers desire. Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself John Dewey A science teaching revolution You see there is an exciting revolution happening in New Zealand education at the grass roots level. It’s all taking place completely in public via social media. And as a participant I can see that we have some fabulous, committed teachers/educators across the nation striving to offer the very best education to … Read More

Women scientists get vocal about top billing on Twitter - Ice Doctor

Oct 02, 2014

By Victoria Metcalf, Lincoln University, New Zealand This was originally published in The  30 September 2014. A steady infiltration of scientists onto Twitter has accompanied the growing recognition that a social media presence is just as important as taking the podium at a conference. Social media is leading to new ways for scientists to collaborate and communicate. Indeed, mentions on Twitter can amplify a researcher’s scientific impact. But like all social media forms, it’s not always playing nicely together in the playground. List wars Science magazine this month published a list of 50 science stars on Twitter it said were the “50 most followed scientists on the social media platform”. Unleashing the list provoked an instantaneous and … Read More