Who will be first author? Flip a coin

Over at Dynamic Ecology Megan Duffy just did an awesome blog post about how to determine authorship. From alphabetical ordering to a coin flip, to the current status of the British Pound vs. American Dollar, and my personal favorite, authorship was determined by a twenty-five-game croquet series, things are not as straightforward as they may seem.

Read about it over at Dynamic Ecology!



More about bees

Working with snails was easy. They are easy to catch, easy to keep alive, and people are largely not interested in them.

Bees, however, are a challenge. They are picky about the weather, they fly around and people are coming out of the woodwork to talk to me about them. I’ve never met so many people who are engaged about bees.

So much so that after my recent Notes from the Field post, a friend sent me an article from NPR. That’s right, NPR wrote an article about things I’m working on.

Read about bees and viruses over at NPR!


Science writing STYLE!

My mother is an international lawyer of some renown and she is also my editor, and BOY am I lucky to have her (She recently asked me if commas had hurt me as a child…).

But if  you’re not lucky enough to have a world class writer editing your work, here is a list of Top Ten style checks for PhDs or creative non-fiction writers: Ways to assess your paragraphs or sentences over Medium. Not all of them are gold, but one sample:

5. Are you using active verbs with real subjects?[good] Or passive verbs, whose subjects are abstractions, reifications or anthromorphized concepts? [bad] Word and other equivalents will identify every passive formulation in the Spellchecker facility — go through and change them all over.

Well worth the read!


How to write Science for the Public (Non-scientists)

One of our reasons for starting this blog was to write a biology blog for the general public. I think one of the biggest concerns in the US is scientific illiteracy, and we as a collaborative group, wanted to combat that.

My friend recently posted this comment on facebook, and it really stuck me:

“Tritrophic is not a real word. Your reader does not know the words tritrophic, ecological assemblage, genomics or parthenogenesis. That is not because your reader is dumb. It is because scientists made up those words and never told anyone but other scientists. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your readers. Readers can be very clever, but it is not their job to know all of the words that you and the twelve people you call colleagues made up.”

Rob Dunn

This caused me to seek the source, and it’s an EXCELLENT blog post about how to write science for the public. We tend towards dry, complex sentences that convey information. While we shouldn’t necessarily be making things up (please) we as scientist should do a better job of conveying our passion and enthusiasm. And Rob’s blog post is an excellent set of rules for how to do that. CHECK IT OUT HERE!



The Global Solution to Extinction

From the Pulitzer price winning author, and all around naturalist/biology champion E.O. Wilson wrote another thoughtful piece in the New York Times.

He writes about the history of discovering species, and finding out too late that we are killing them all off.

If you are interested, think that the NSF shouldn’t have stopped funding collections (herbaria and museums) or just generally want to ready E.O. Wilsons eloquent prose read it here!


Reflections on getting your first publication out the door

I know friends who celebrate every paper they submit. I think that is awesome.

But by the time I get a paper submitted, back for revisions, revised, submitted again, accepted and final edited, I hate that paper. I have seen it so many times, and written each sentence with exacting intention that I never want to see it again.

Which is why a post over at the blog “Ecology B1ts” entitled Reflections on my first first-author pub (and the seven years it took to get there) was so interesting to me. Margret Kosmala talks about how life, mentorship and rejection can all influence getting a paper published.

Well worth the read!




Museums: The endangered dead

Across the world, natural-history collections hold a multitude of species, some of which have never been identified. In fact, scientists are currently finding more new species by sifting through decades-old specimens than by surveying tropical forests and remote landscapes.

Additionally, museum collections are becoming increasingly valuable thanks to newly developed techniques (ancient DNA anyone?) and databases.

But just as these collections are increasing in value, they are falling into decline.

Read about it over at Nature!


Ricardo Moratelli examines bat specimens in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/Nature)