The laboratory mascot is growing older, just like me.

Time marches on.

In my laboratory, I can judge the years by the growth of our lab’s mascot, a Chilean Rose-hair tarantula named “Harriet” (but who also goes by the name of Grillonthosaur).  I was away last week, but when I returned to the laboratory on Monday morning, my students were excited to tell me that Harriet is a little bigger than before I left.  She moulted, and now has a shiny new coat.

Our lab mascot, with her shiny new coat!

The story of Harriet is kind of amazing.  Before Harriet was our laboratory’s mascot, she was the pet of an enthusiastic undergraduate student at McGill.  This student loved entomology, and did a project in my laboratory about four months after I started as a shiny-new tenure-track assistant professor.   When this student left Montreal, she gave Harriet to me since she could not take the spider with her at the time.  That was in the winter of 2003, and Harriet was already several years old then.  Harriet is, therefore at least 13 years old and shows no signs of slowing down.

Harriet’s old ‘skin’.

Harriet has seen a lot of changes, and been a passive observer of quite a few graduate student research projects.  I am also growing older – I just turned 40 this past weekend.  I am pleased to report that I don’t seem to be showing signs of slowing down either.

(by the way, the undergraduate student I referred to left McGill for a MSc in British Columbia followed by a PhD in Australia.  She, like Harriet, is doing very, very well!)

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