Recommended reads #159

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Hitman 2’s new game lets you quit being an assassin and become an ornithologist: “Here’s how it works: After using your trusty piano wire to kill an ornithologist and swap into his cargo shorts and binoculars, all you have to do is press X to toss aside your silenced pistol, point out the nest of a plum-throated cotinga to your research assistant, and embark on a full-fledged research career in the King’s College Avian Biology Department.”

Color me surprised. A new study claims that in laboratory-oriented fields, mentoring from postdocs is impactful for PhD students, but not for mentoring from the PI. And that PI tend to ignore established best practices for mentoring, and just go from the hip based on their own prior personal experiences. (As a disclaimer, I haven’t actually read this article, by the way, just saying what the abstract and folks have been saying. Since it’s in a fancy journal, be primed to expect big claims that may or may not be appropriately generalized from the actual findings.)

Working from affirmation, not for affirmation. Continue reading

Be careful with human examples when teaching animal behavior

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You may or may not have heard of this weekend’s debacle from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (They promoted a paper using images of women appearing to have an orgasm. Though the paper was an ovulation experiment in rabbits. Do they have any women involved in the social media process over there? Yikes.)  I hold the new EIC in high regard, and I imagine she’ll get to the bottom of this. But it reminds me of a thing I’ve been meaning to address here for a while.

I suspect a lot of us are teaching animal behavior and behavioral ecology very badly, whenever it comes to our own species. Continue reading

Reviewing manuscripts as an early career scientist

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I find this weird, but apparently, some journals in some academic fields don’t allow grad students or postdocs to serve as peer reviewers. I do get the idea that professional experience and expertise should be required to conduct a peer review. They’re called “peer” reviews for a reason.

Then, the question is: are early career scientists our peers? Continue reading

Do R1s or PUIs have higher research expectations?

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Well, of course, major research institutions (R1s) expect more research to come out of their labs than primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs). But, after you take into account the circumstances of each kind of position, who experiences a higher relative demand for research productivity? At which kind of institution is it harder to meet the scholarship criteria for tenure?

Well, let’s compare various factors related to research productivity at these kinds of institutions*.

Continue reading

Recommended reads #158

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A very nice paper on efficient teaching, showing how small tweaks can result in big educational gains.

“Dr. Kathryn Milligan-Myhre works in the field of host-microbe interactions. In this mSphere of Influence article, she reflects on the people and scientific ideas that influenced her journey from a small town in Alaska to a faculty position at the University of Alaska Anchorage.”

If you are, like me, someone who studies things that are not humans and you’re interested in studying humans, you absolutely need to talk to people who do that for a living.” Continue reading

EEB Mentor Match 2019

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This is the announcement of EEB Mentor Match for 2019!

We are pairing up students applying for graduate school and graduate fellowships with more experienced academics who have been through the process. If you’re an undergraduate or recent graduate who feels that you could benefit from more support, this is for you! Continue reading

Recommended reads #156

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An open letter about sexual harassment and retaliation at UC Irvine.

Among the many layers of horrible events In These United States, the dismantling of the USDA, via translocating the agency to Kansas City (though where in Kansas City, they have no idea), is not getting much attention. Here’s a recent update on this from the Washington Post.

A big meta analysis is showing that, as the ocean warms, fisheries decline. Every degree celsius corresponds to a 5% loss in biomass. Continue reading

How much should student registration cost at conferences?

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Let’s say you’re a grad student heading off to the annual 5-day conference in your field. You’re giving a poster, you are scheduled to have coffee with a person whose work you admire, you’ll be seeing a some old friends, and you’re there to learn about the newest work in your field.

Then, you get contacted by the people who run the conference. They’re wondering if you want to work — during the conference — at a rate of $14 per hour. Continue reading

Massive editorial failures harm authors and readers

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Have you heard of the newly published misogynist paper in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine? Here’s the start of the abstract:

It is unknown whether female physicians can perform equivalently to male physicians with respect to emergency procedures. Endotracheal intubation is one of the most critical procedures performed in the emergency department (ED). We hypothesized that female physicians are not inferior to male physicians in first-pass success rate for this endotracheal intubation.

There has been much outrage. But hold on. This might not be what it might look like.
Continue reading

Recommended reads #154

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53 essential tech-bro terms explained (It’s like the Devil’s Dictionary)

Computer-based and bench-based research [in course-based research projects] produce similar attitudinal outcomes

In ecology and zoology, the number of women authors on papers with male senior authors is shockingly low. I mean, yeah, you’d expect an effect of gender, but, I mean, wow, this is worse than I would have imagined:

journal.pone.0218598.g002

Figure from Salerno et al. 2019, comparing proportion of women authors in papers with male or female senior authors

Pay the USWNT a bounty Continue reading

Being a professor is too many jobs, perhaps?

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Some while ago, a colleague mentioned how his job as a professor was a “triple position.” Teaching well is a full time job. Doing research well is a full time job. And the service that we do, if done well, can or should be a full time job. We professors have three jobs rolled into one salary (and a 9-month one at that)!

This has been a lot of food for thought. I’ve come to realize that for nearly everything I do for the university on part-time basis, there are people who do that work on a full-time basis with a higher degree of specialization. Continue reading

Recommended reads #152

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A wave of graduate programs drops the GRE application requirement, with biology programs leading the way.

Can you really do humanities research with undergraduates?

Taiwan considers going double blind for grant review

“If you’ve ever been at a wedding or conference or on board a United connection from O’Hare, and been cornered by a man with Theories About It All, and you came away thinking, ‘That was a great experience,’ have I got the book for you.” So begins what I think is a generally Important Review of the most recent Jared Diamond book. It’s important, for the broader academic community, because it puts stark light on the absence of fact checking of popular academic nonfiction. It’s also an entertaining review to read, unless you’re uncomfortable with scrutiny of the more specious ideas forwarded by Jared Diamond. Continue reading

We need distributed power structures in grad school

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For most grad students in the sciences, their doctoral advisor has an extraordinary level of power over their professional and personal life. This is long overdue for an overhaul. No single person should have that much power over another, particularly in academia where institutions chronically overlook and enable misconduct. Continue reading

Recommended reads #151

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If you haven’t read this editorial about “What ‘good’ dads get away with,” please do. It’s about the the “Myth of Equal Partnership.”

The best (and worst) ways to respond to student anxiety

Someone measured the disregard that natural scientists hold for research in the social sciences. You can imagine how this article is being received by the people they studied. Continue reading