SURVEY: How bad was that Science cover and do you care?

The July 11 cover of Sciencegot a lot of press coverage last week. You can read about the variety of responses here, here, here, here or here (to name a few). But if you haven’t heard, Science chose to feature transgender sex workers from Jakarta on the cover of their “Staying a step ahead of HIV/AIDS” special issue, allegedly to highlight this “at risk” group. Unfortunately, the choice felt mostly like objectification and/or exploitation to some because the image was sexual (high heels, short skirts and the women were head/face-less). After a Twitter storm – including some pretty unprofessional responses from a Science editor – Science issued a short apology (cover image can be seen here too).

I’ve been wondering what the masses really think about this.

HERE IS MY 2 QUESTION SURVEY

… for people to please answer as honestly as possible. Basically, how well chosen do you think the cover art was and how much do you care?

Thanks you guys! I’ll post the responses in a week or so. Did I mention please answer? There are even “I don’t know” and “I don’t care”  options, so everyone can participate!

On the scale of Bruce Banner to Incredible Hulk – how angry are you?

PS – All the “Staying a step ahead of HIV/AIDS” articles are open access! Check ‘em out!

The future of teaching?

Is this cuddly mug the future face of teaching?

I’ve recently become a big fan of IPython Notebook – I use it to keep track of command-line analyses and the thoughts/rationale/questions I have as I’m running them. But Greg Caporaso has another good use – an interactive textbook for teaching bioinformatics. In this blog post, he describes in detail how the textbook came about and how to get a copy for yourself.

Because the IPython Notebooks are interactive, students can (and actually do!) work with the notebooks in class and at home to experiment with the code, which drives active learning of the concepts. For example, one student this semester told us about his experiments with Smith-Waterman gap open penalties of 1000, and about what happens when you make the gap penalties negative (so they effectively become gap rewards; hint: you get a lot of gaps, but if want to see for yourself, install the notebook and try it out).

 

Friday Coffee Break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

Americans who say they don’t “believe” in evolution still seem to understand it. (Jeremy)

Humans may have evolved bigger brains at the expense of muscle strength. (Jeremy)

What’s troublesome about Troublesome Inheritance. (Jeremy)

What’s an elfie? This is an elfie. (Sarah)

Two disturbing figures from Your Wild Life – regarding trash (this pertains to you, Georgians!) and poop. (Sarah)

 

PS. Ahoy!

 

Friday Coffee Break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From CJ: On getting the most for both you and your students during summer projects.

Also from CJ: After careful consideration, Dr. Indiana Jones is rejected for tenure.

From Jeremy: Apparently, it’s not the doctors who are driving up medical costs.

Also from Jeremy: “More than 40 percent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years.”

From Amy: A two-parter. First, a little backstory and second, the random things that correlate: a cautionary tale.

From Sarah:  Le Parc Naturel de la Mer De Corail - the world’s largest marine sanctuary.

Also from Sarah: Adjunctivits correlates with highest paid university presidents and *GASP* higher student debt.

FINALLY – AND WORTHY OF CAPS LOCK – A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO FORMER CONTRIBUTOR DEVIN DROWN, WHO WILL BE STARTING A TENURE-TRACK FACULTY POSITION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA, FAIRBANKS, NEXT JANUARY. WAHOOOOOOOOOO!

Friday Coffee Break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From Sarah: Well – THAT is a pretty good idea.

Also from Sarah: My inner naturalist and inner molluscophobe are fighting. Nifty or icky? Both, I guess.

From Amy: “There’s little about the discovery that isn’t gross. It looks like angel hair pasta. It’s undeniably enormous. And it’s cocooned in bat poop. It’s the world’s oldest…” what? The world’s oldest WHAT?!?!?

From Jeremy: The ways in which brood parasites and their hosts are super awesome seem endless…

Finally: Oh, emu poop, you are amazing.

 

PS – And thanks for the double helix-icious latte art, Nicole!

 

Friday Coffee Break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From CJ – Soon we will live…FOREVER! At least if we can figure out how these jellyfish do it.

From Noah – The death toll rises – researchers still counting and estimating birds killed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

From Amy – Better check your by-line! Middle initials make you seem smarter.

Also from Amy“Chameleon” vine mimics whatever plant it happens to be climbing…freaky.

From Jeremy – I hope they have space orchids: NASA wants a greenhouse on Mars (and soon!).

From Sarah – Apparently, I’m not the only one who is terrified of has wondered what lives in the Mariana Trench.

 

Alvin, Simon and Theodosius Dobzhansky*

You know the type. Big, brown eyes. Cute, little nose. Long, striped tail.

Tamias amoenus canicaudus, Steptoe Butte, WA, photo: Noah M Reid

Tamias amoenus canicaudus, Steptoe Butte, WA, photo: Noah M Reid

Chipmunks are adorable and one of the more easily viewed yet still kind of exotic North American mammals (in my opinion). I worked on red-tailed chipmunks for my Master’s degree at the University of Idaho with Jack Sullivan. Sullivan (et al.) just published a review of all the chipmunk research that’s taken place in his lab over the past 10 years or so. Central to the review is the concept of divergence with gene flow (DGF), but let’s start with some back story.

Continue reading

Friday Coffee Break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

 

From Noah: Is there anything more terrifying than incurable gonorrhea? The WHO thinks not.

From CJ: For “mathletes” and the mathless alike – a great cartoon about fractals.

Also from CJ: Science fiction to science fact in one handy chart.

From Jeremy: Robot chicken houses – the future of meat?

From Sarah:  So I guess that’s what Mars looks like…

Also from Sarah: The critical role viruses play 20,000 leagues under the sea (or however many leagues it is to the bottom).

 

A science-y tweet makes my heart skip a beat

When I first heard about Twitter (several years before I actually understood what it was) – I remember thinking it sounded silly. Who cares what celebrities are thinking (Figure 1)? I dismissed everything Twitter-related as irrelevant and continued on my merry way. I think it was during Evolution 2011 that Jeremy (from this blog) suggested I join Twitter because you can follow interesting talks and remain engaged throughout conferences. It took a little while for me to work up a real affection for Twitter but the longer I’ve been a member (and perhaps the longer Science and scientists have had to assimilate it into our work world), the more useful I find it (Figure 2).

Figure 1: An example of the "Why bother?" side of Twitter. Why 103,000 people thought this was worth repeating via "retweeting" is beyond me because it gets dumber each time I read it...

Figure 1: An example of the “Why bother?” side of Twitter. And why 103,000 people bothered repeating this via “retweeting” is beyond me. It gets dumber each time I read it.

Figure 2: Why you actually should bother. Devin's posts include (top to bottom) - passing along a job opportunity, interesting publication, a professional interaction about science spam, a second paper and link to our blog!

Figure 2: Why you actually should bother. Devin’s posts include (top to bottom) – passing along a job opportunity, interesting publication, a professional interaction about science spam, a second paper and link to our blog!

Regarding social media and scientists in general, Bik & Goldstein have written a great introduction. They discuss the pros and cons of several platforms (i.e., blogs, Facebook, Twitter) and how to choose amongst these depending on your interests. For example – are you most interested in communicating science to the “general public”? TO THE FLOW CHART! Perhaps creating your own content in the form of a blog is for you. Alternatively, are you more interested in compiling cool stuff you’ve found from across the world wide web? Consider Facebook.

Despite the ubiquity of social media in our world, many scientists are reluctant to embrace it. That’s somewhat understandable – “Why bother?” is an easy question to ask and get no answer to if you’re “unplugged”. Bik & Goldstein outline four major “research benefits from an online presence”.

Continue reading

Friday Coffee Break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

It’s like the saddest picture book you’ve ever read. True stories about how some species went extinct. (from Jeremy)

The hoatzin becomes an even cooler bird. (from Noah)

Looking for a phylogenetics discussion board? Try phylobabble. Looking for free silhouette pictures of plants and animals? Try phylopic. (from Sarah)

When art and science meet – oh baby – that’s some good stuff. Awesome glass sculptures of viruses. (from CJ)

Are you an aspiring statistician? How to read histograms and use them in R.  (from Amy)

They look like ants, but they’re ain’ts! (from Jeremy)

Need help with the whole peer-review thing? Look no further than this guide from the British Ecological Society. (from Sarah)