Book Traveling Thursdays: A Book That Inspires Me


Hello, welcome back to another Book Traveling 168709Thursdays, which a weekly meme created by Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too Much and Danielle @Danielle’s Book Blog. The goal is to share the covers of a book related to that week’s theme, which you can see at the Goodreads group, indicating the original cover, the one of your country, your favorite and least favorite.

This week’s theme is “New Year, New You! Choose a book that inspires you“. This week’s theme is not easy, that’s why I decided to go with the literal way of inspiring, and I could only think of one book: The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes, which is a non-fiction book about how we can trace everyone’s origin to one single “woman” in Africa, and from 7 lines that derived from her.  It was the book that got me interest in Genetic anthropology, and the potential of mitochondrial DNA, which is mostly what I do now.

Original COver:

I actually like the original cover – please keep in mind that this is a non fiction scientific book, not many of those have appealing covers.



I own the purple portuguese cover, and let’s face it, it is not pretty!!! But the spanish cover is way worse, right?

Favorite COVER(s):

I bought an english copy of this book last year while in Oxford (it seemed appropriate), and it came with this gorgeous cover :D.



Now, most of the covers for this book are not really great, but the Czech, Dutch, Turkish and Arabic take the prize. They are just too awful to even contemplate, and the Dutch and Arabic cover make it seem like it’s some sort of contemporary book… no no no no


My week in review…

After a week of doing next to nothing and feeling awful, because I was sick – sinus inflammation is a bitch, my headaches were insane – this week I decided that I really had to be productive.


A few weeks ago we got an e-mail from my university indicating the possibility of doing an Erasmus+ for Doctorate students. The list of countries though was a little less than desirable, it included every single place except the European Union – bummer, since in my field is where most of the labs are. Still, after talking things over with my advisor, we decided to put 2 places and just wait for the application call. Tuesday night we got an e-mail again saying that we have until February 5th to deliver an acceptance letter and a short essay… they gave us 9 days!!!


So, in my feeble attempt not to panic, I started redacting the letters for the 2 directors of the 2 centers I had pre-pre selected, my advisor looked them over, and off they went! Thank God for emails… I don’t know how people did this in the old days.


Given that the 2 places are in opposite sides of the world, and both very far away from Spain, I panicked a bit, because the likelihood of any of them accepting me with such short time to process, it’s very low – even though it would only be for the next school year, especially when you factor in the time difference between places. My heart dropped a bit a second after I sent the emails, because I got an answer right away, a “I’m sorry, I’m away at the moment” automatic kind of message…


I decided to go about my day as usual, thinking that it would probably be a good few days before anyone decided (if they decided) to respond. I was already in bed, late the same day, when I got an email from the Big Wig that was away (apparently we wasn’t away anymore), and he was super nice and even though he did not say “yes, sure”, he did say he was going to talk to the PI’s from the lines I was interested in and asked what would they have to provide to make it happen.

giphy (6)

Yeah… I was totally fangirling about the email, even though he was likely to respond some time, it’s still exhilarating when you get an email from a Scientist you admire and respect so much!

84238-Jon-Stewart-Im-totally-fangirl-eaOLFangirling.Again, mails sent, I tried to keep it out of my mind because it’s not that big of a deal: if they accept me and everything, I still have to apply and nothing garanties me that they will give me the scholarship for the mobility program, so yeah, relax!


Relax did not come easy on Thursday, given that my undergrad lost the confidence or just plainly forgot how to do a bunch of protocols. I reckon it’s my fault, because I nicely asked him before each one if he thought/remember how to do them by himself… each time the answer was NO! Come on man, are you kidding me?! He spent 4 months in that lab and he had the audacity to tell me he did not remember how to do something he did a bunch of… kill me now!


Friday finally came, a good day, because FRIDAY! (I don’t know why I sound excited about this day when I am bound to work all weekend) Still, Friday was my undergrad last day! YUUUPPPIIII!!!! Very nice indeed, since I won’t have another one, which means that I’m on my own and doing my kind of schedules again, without having to worry about a kid anymore.


Time went by quickly, due to the little amount of stuff I had to do Friday and around lunchtime I told him “it’s done, over”. I decided to take him to my advisor’s office, so he could say goodbye to her, and that’s when she drops a tiny bit of information: “Oh, he asked if he could stay on, keep coming to the lab, but I forgot to talk to you!”.


I looked at him, how the hell did he not mention it to me and talked to my PI, are you kidding me?!


Knowing full well that if he did stay on, he would work under me, he shared my office for 4 months and it never occurs to him to say “hey, I was thinking that maybe I could stay on”… really people?!


Not expecting this at all! Obvious we told him that we would talk about it between the 2 of us and would tell him something, obvious I said to my advisor that sure, but not if he staying on will mean I get behind. So we’ll see… but, hell!


So… Saturday! I had to go to work, but decided to sleep a bit and go later because, well, sleep! Obvious something had to go wrong and I woke up to an email from the Big Wig I talked about earlier with a bit of “not so good” news… the PI which I was interested to work with (because it relates so much with my thesis) is moving to another lab sometime this year, which means that he won’t be able to host me…


Bummer, still, he told me to get in direct contact with both PIs he recommended to see what can be done and now I don’t even know how to start… I’m totally blocked! It would help if somebody from the other lab I wrote to replied… but no! I really want to work with this guy and I’m kind of happy because he’s moving somewhere I really want to go… I just can’t do it on Erasmus, but hey, everything is not lost!


12 (of the 25) Deeply Painful PhD Students Problems (besides your thesis)

There’s a great post on Buzzfeed about the 25 Deeply Painful PhD Students Problems (besides your thesis). So, here is how some actually apply to my case…

1. Telling children you’re in the 25th grade.

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

Well, this one is particularly true and weird. Explaining to my nephews that I work at the University… and that in this case work = study, is complicated.


2. It’s been at least 10 years since you had a “real” weekend.

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

This doesn’t mean I don’t actually enjoy a weekend every once in a while, but it’s never a truly relaxed time. Even if I’m not working in the lab, I’m stressing about not being there… so…


3. Going to parties and everyone’s just standing around talking about their research.

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

… well, this one doesn’t apply quite literally, it’s more like, being with your undergrad and grad friends and talking about nothing more than research, grants or lab problems…


4. When someone claims that being in a doctoral program isn’t “the same thing as having a real job”:

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

It’s not! It really isn’t true! I may not have a 9 to 5 job, I might even get out some days in the middle of the day and go home, because there’s nothing more I can do in the lab that day, but I also work most of my weekends and worry constantly. I have to write reports and papers and read tons of research by other people… a PhD is a JOB!


5. …and feeling ultra-guilty anytime you try to relax.

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

It’s impossible not to feel guilty… all the time! Damn I fell guilty for the time I spend writing in this blog!


6. When all of your colleagues are married, and you’re just like:

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

It’s not my collegues per say, since most of the people in the unit I work are  a lot younger than me… but these last couple of years, a lot of people from my high school and college are tying the knot…


7. Feeling some degree of “impostor syndrome” at least once a day.

Feeling some degree of "impostor syndrome" at least once a day.

…”as in, you’re just waiting for someone to realize that they made a HUGE mistake letting you into your program and to swiftly kick you out.” – YEPPPPP, TRUE!!! But by now I think that this is a very normal feeling!


8. When someone asks you for the 357th time what your dissertation is about:

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

Yep, yep… not even my parents know it properly…


9. Seeing someone on your dissertation committee outside of school:

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

By rule, I avoid everyone remotely related to this area!


10. When someone asks how “writing” is going:

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

Yeah… Tough subject!


11. Explaining to your friends with 9-to-5 jobs why you can’t go out on Friday night.

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

This is a bad example because I never want to go out… but yeah, it there’s work to be done, it will come first, whatever the hours or days of the weeks…


12. When ANYONE asks you what your plan is after you graduate:

25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

I’m halfway done with my PhD (the stipulated time, anyway) and I have no idea. I also don’t know why I was supposed to know before I even got into the program… oh well, I’m sure I’ll figure it out… eventually…

Dmanisi Skull 5

The news of the day regarding science in general and Human Evolution specifically is the publication of a paper in Science about the fifth skull found in Dmanisi and its implications on the whole of the Human evolutionary tree.

Beautiful Skull Spurs Debate on Human History

An iconic new skull from Dmanisi, Georgia, dated to 1.8 million years ago, presents a new face for our genusHomo. The stunningly complete skull of an adult man has a surprisingly primitive, protruding upper jaw, and a tiny braincase. Combined with skulls found earlier at Dmanisi, it suggests that ancient people from the same time and place could look quite different from each other.


The skull in question, found back in 2005, present mosaic characteristics, or, a mixture of features observed in, what until now were, different early humans classified as different species.

But now, the authors indicate that the 5 skulls found until now, with different features, can actually belong to the same species.

Together, our analyses suggest that Skull 5 and the other four early Homo [human] individuals from Dmanisi represent the full range of variation within a single species.


Rare skull sparks human evolution controversy

The authors indicate that the Dmanasi’s inhabitants could be part of a single human lineage, also including several earlier human species classified as something other that Homo erectusLordkipanidze and colleagues place these Dmanisi’s individuals in a single lineage of early humans that may stretch back as far as 2.4 million years ago in East Africa, when the first human species, Homo habilis, arose. This explanation would group the various human species that have been named during early Homo history into a single evolving species connecting Homo habilis to the Dmanisi humans, and to Homo erectus as it expanded across Eurasia.

We think that many African fossils can be lumped in this category and aligned with the single-lineage hypothesis.

So now, naturally, the controversy starts. It’s well known that not all researchers agree with the divisions of the Homo genus as they were until now, but they will likely not like the new proposal either, that proposes the fusing of what was thought to be several different species.

Dmanisi Skull: Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus Belonged To The Same Species – Study