Latest publication!

I have just recently published a new article in The Journal of Plant Ecology and it is out for free in advance access (not typeset or proofed yet).

Check it out using the links below!




2 YorkU summer undergrad research practicum positions available

Our lab is looking for two York University undergraduate students to partake in research practicum positions focused in plant ecology research. Students will be working closely with graduate students on on-going research projects related to desert plant ecology research.

Position title: Research practicum (BIOL1603; BIOL2603; BIOL3603; BIOL4603)

Duties: Process plant biomass samples, process soil cores, review animal camera trap photos, greenhouse/growth chamber germination experiments

Location: York Univeristy, Keele Campus

Hours per week: 8-10 hours

Duration: June 2016 – August 2016, with potential to extend into Fall 2017

Qualifications: eager to learn, enthusiastic, detail-oriented, dedicated. No prior experience is required, all training will be provided. Upon accepting the position, students must complete WHMIS training providing at York University.

Preferred Education level: Completion of second year undergraduate studies

Preferred Major: Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science

To apply: Interested applicants should contact Amanda Liczner via email (aliczner AT yorku. ca). Please include “summer research practicum application” in the subject heading and include your unofficial transcript (screenshots are acceptable).

Please apply before April 30, 2016

Lab website:


Back to the field!

It was a wetter year in California than last year but by no means has it been the large El Nino event everyone was projecting. Although I was predicting a later and longer growing season than last year, some warm weather popped up in February and started the bloom earlier than anticipated.

Thus I quickly rushed out to the field to begin my field season much earlier than expected.


(I tweeted this picture and it received a great deal of attention!)

luckily I caught flowering in time and my experiment worked out well, so now I can just enjoy the flowers


tweets away!

I started tweeting for the @YorkUScientists account yesterday and it has been a pretty cool experience already.  The account has a very large audience and my tweets are seen by, and engaged with, by numerous people, neat!

It is a bit of work though continuously posting content. We will see how this pans out for the rest of the week

If you haven’t checked the account be sure to follow @YorkUScientists and my personal twitter account @aliczner

tweeting scientists for @yorkuscientists Feb 21-27

Hey all!

I will be tweeting for the @yorkuscientists twitter account on Feb 21-27! This account is similar to the popular @biotweeps account where every week a different scientists tweets about their research, interests, and fun posts! Be sure to follow the account to see lots of great #YorkU scientists and their research throughout the year and especially tune in next week to hear about all the interesting things myself and my lab mates are doing 🙂

8 things I’ve learned post-preliminary exam

I completed (and passed!) my PhD preliminary exam to transfer from the MSc program to the PhD program on December 1 and although it is all still sinking in I have made a list of some of the things I learned pre-, during, and post- defense.

  1. start early
    thankfully I was given this advice ahead of time and I listened, but maybe I should have started even earlier. Everything always takes longer than anticipated and surprise tasks can set you back a day or a few so starting early can give you enough of a buffer that your progress will not suffer to badly and reduce stress
  2. pick cognate topics that are useful and interesting
    cognates are not fun to write. They are also an awkward length (15 pgs max) that makes writing them challenging as the page restriction does not allow you to go as in depth as you might want to, but are not too short in that you can be extremely brief either. Therefore, finding a cognate topic that is not only useful and an interesting topic might just get you through writing it in one piece.
  3. de-stress
    prepping for the exam can be overwhelming, so its also important to take care of yourself. De-stress and maintaining physical activity is a top priority and should be something you make time for
  4. know the literature, and use it
    seems so obvious. I have a hard time with remembering authors and dates and is something I need to continue working on. I made flash cards which helped me remember some, but if you don’t find a way to incorporate those studies into your answers you aren’t doing yourself any favours. I found it tricky to try and show off my knowledge of the literature as I attempted to simply answer the questions my committee was asking without throwing in a citation here or there. It might be awkward to do, but just find a way to insert citations into your answers whenever possible
  5. bring food, glucose may improve people’s mood
    that has some pretty obvious benefits
  6. find all the terms that you think are obvious, and define them
    that seems to be a favourite question among examiners and one of my first questions was a definition of a term that is so central to my thesis that I took its definition for granted and on the spot it may be challenging to try and explain even the most simple of terms
  7. breathe
    all steps along the way
  8. you will not feel good
    during the examination the committee puts on their poker faces and you will not feel good about a single answer. you wont feel anything after you finish and pass except tired. eventually it will hit you, but you will still be tired. Despite this, you did something great so go out and celebrate even if you don’t feel so great about it.

Shrub removal and mimic construction complete!

I completed the shrub removals and mimic construction with the help of Mike, Alex and Taylor on May 3. For a quick update on the project see the blog post on my lab’s website here!


Control shrubs, mimics, and removals will be surveyed for evidence of lizard activity in order to help determine what role the shrubs are playing in determining lizard activity.