The other side: I Love Being a Professor

Everyone I know is leaving academia. It started a few years ago with great postdocs taking alternative academic positions (head of an NSF institute, lead of a nature preserve, etc.), and has now progressed into most of my friends moving to industry (data science, start ups and biology industry).

So it’s really refreshing to read a post about someone who flat out loves their job. Maybe there is still hope?

Read more here.

i-love-science_a-G-9845017-0

Advertisements

A Wolf Would Never Fucking Do This

I don’t know how to respond to the shooting in Las Vegas, and I especially don’t know how to do it publicly. But over at Medium, a wonderful guest post by a North American Grey Wolf really brought it home for me (or added some humor in a dour and humorless time).

Read it here, or read the excerpt below:

I am a North American Gray Wolf and I’m mad as hell. Yes, I am a bit of a loner but let me be clear, I would never do something like this. You humans never care about me unless it’s to describe a psychopath mass murderer. Just because I’ve chosen not to reproduce or run with a pack doesn’t mean you can use my name to describe white mass shooters. Stop appropriating wolf culture and come up with your own term for it. I have a suggestion: Terrorist.

Do you even know what actual lone wolves like to do? We like running, howling, eating small mammals, smelling, and more running. You know what we don’t like to do? Shoot up concerts with weapons your founding fathers never could have imagined.

In conclusion, a murderer with a lawfully purchased personal arsenal is nothing like a lone wolf. A lone wolf is a majestic grey animal who just wants to do his own thing and maybe get married when he’s ready, ok?

Please stop using my name for terrorism. I don’t even have thumbs.

Recommendations for making science inclusive, and how to talk about it with others

Small Pond Science continues to be awesome.

And they highlighted a short peer-reviewed paper that they wrote about how to promote equity and inclusion, which you can find the full text here and the PDF here.

TL;DL version: they have 12 recommendations for broadening participation and communicating about diversity.

Recommendations for Broadening Participation and Communicating About Diversity in Entomology

  • Build meaningful long-term collaborations with faculty and students in Minority-Serving Institutions.
  • When focusing on diversity for seminar series and symposia, take into account not only gender and ethnic diversity, but also institutional diversity.
  • Develop broader impacts for research proposals that provide training opportunities for undergraduates in underserved institutions, because implementation of broader impacts fostering the inclusion of underrepresented groups is uncommon (McGlynn 2013a). However, parachuting into institutions to recruit the “quality” candidates without building relationships with the faculty and supporting long-term mentoring relationships will not serve the purpose of broadening participation (McGlynn 2013b).
  • For graduate admissions, eliminate the GRE requirement and lower GPA thresholds.
  • Observe or participate in conversations in social media with academics representing a range of ethnic, cultural, and institutional backgrounds.
  • Emphasize quality over quantity when developing a piece of work for communication (e.g., blog post, video, podcast). Low-quality work rarely reaches its intended audience.
  • If you make the choice to build your own platform for communication, establish a regular frequency for new material, and stick to that schedule. Blogs are a form of outreach that involves a long-haul investment, because audiences build slowly, and only with regular feeding.
  • You don’t need to build your own platform, as range of existing platforms are available to you, such as Facebook, Twitter, Medium, guest posts in established blogs, and op-ed pieces in newspapers.
  • Don’t be afraid to get it wrong; as long as you are open-minded and respond positively to critical feedback, then you will not become infamous on the internet.
  • Play to your strengths and communicate in a medium and style that works best for you.
  • Engage in communication with the community in a manner that anneals your professional goals.
  • Evaluating your work by comparing your successes to the successes of others is only a recipe for disappointment. Establish benchmarks for yourself, and compare yourself to those benchmarks over time.

Utah Paleontologists Turn to Crowdfunding for Raptor Project

Utahraptor, 23 feet long and weighing over a ton, was one of the largest dromaeosaurs, feathered, sickle-clawed dinosaurs closely related to birds. Since its discovery in 1991, it has been the subject of a popular novelassorted documentaries and tie-in toys from “Jurassic Park.” But for all its fame, the predator has been known primarily from only a few remains. That changed in 2001, when a geology student found a leg bone emerging from a hillside in the Cedar Mountain formation in eastern Utah. You see, millions of years ago, on a mud flat somewhere in Cretaceous Utah, a group of Utahraptors made a grave mistake: They tried to hunt near quicksand. The pack’s poor fortune has given modern paleontologists an opportunity to decode the giant raptor — its appearance, growth and behavior — but only if they can raise the money.

Enter “The Utahraptor Project,” started on GoFundMe last year with a $100,000 goal. It offers backers access to a field worker’s blog, a live “Raptor Cam” and digital models of the find put together through the process of photogrammetry.

READ MORE HERE!

29SCI-UTAHRAPTOR1-superJumbo.jpg

It’s good to have lots of bad ideas

Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel prizewinner, also gave us another important, if less well-known, dictum: that if you want to have good ideas, you must have lots of ideas and learn to throw away the bad ones.

But how do we quantify if that’s true? One academic of emeritus status (John Kirwanlooked back on his career to do just that.

Read about it here.

nj7668-491a-i1.jpg

Covering Climate Change, with Urgency and Creativity

2016 study by the Yale Project on Climate Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found only two-thirds of Americans even believe climate change is happening. Just over half believe it is caused by humans. And only 15 percent are aware that more than 9 out of 10 scientists agree on both points.

The dearth of coverage can be explained, at least in part, by the difficulty in covering an issue that defies most journalistic conventions, says Bud Ward, who has reported on the issue for more than 20 years and is editor of Yale Climate Connections, published by the Yale Project. Climate change is often perceived as an abstract concept, he says, lacking a timely news hook: “It affects only polar bears I’ll never see, or it will only take place in 2150 or beyond.” Just as crucially, since nearly all scientists are in agreement on the problem, the issue often lacks clearly defined sides. “The villain is us, or villains are everywhere.”

The science behind the phenomenon, meanwhile, often lacks headline-grabbing revelations. “Science’s goal is to incrementally advance fundamental understanding on very basic questions,” says John Wihbey, an assistant professor of journalism and new media at Northeastern University who recently collaborated with Ward on a paper about climate change coverage for Oxford Research Encyclopedia. “If they [scientists] can collect data, test a hypothesis, and show something new … they’ve done their job.” By contrast, he says, journalists’ goal is to inform as many people as possible in as accessible a way as possible. “They are both dedicated to truth, but the importance of publicity and the scope of the audience is just very different.”

READ MORE HERE! 

A Houston interstate is submerged in water after Hurricane Harvey brought widespread flooding to the area.  The devastating impact strong and more frequent rainstorms are having on the city was detailed in The Texas Tribune/ProPublica's “Boomtown, Flood Town” months before Harvey hit

A Houston interstate is submerged in water after Hurricane Harvey brought widespread flooding to the area. The devastating impact strong and more frequent rainstorms are having on the city was detailed in The Texas Tribune/ProPublica’s “Boomtown, Flood Town” months before Harvey hit 

 

Record-shattering 2.7-million-year-old ice core reveals start of the ice ages

Is anyone else tired of hearing climate deniers say “this isn’t the first ice-age, this is all part of a cycle”. No. That’s wrong.

But now we have science to prove it! Scientists announced today that a core drilled in Antarctica has yielded 2.7-million-year-old ice, an astonishing find 1.7 million years older than the previous record-holder. Bubbles in the ice contain greenhouse gases from Earth’s atmosphere at a time when the planet’s cycles of glacial advance and retreat were just beginning, potentially offering clues to what triggered the ice ages.

Want to know more? Read about it here.

ca_0818NID_Ice_Core_CC_Online.jpg