Animal Behaviour Twitter Conference 2021


This is a guest post by Jessica Cusick.

The first ever Animal Behaviour Twitter Conference is being held Jan 26-27, 2021, hosted by the Animal Behavior Society and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour! 

Join us for an exciting opportunity to learn about animal behaviour research. We have an exciting schedule with about 140 presentations and four plenaries from scientists at all career stages from around the world. You do not need to have a Twitter account to attend this conference. Learn more about how to attend the conference below!

What’s A Twitter Conference?!

What is a Twitter conference you might ask? A Twitter conference is completely FREE to attend and occurs completely on Twitter! Presenters “tweet” their presentation (i.e., a thread of 5-6 tweets) at scheduled times on Twitter and they are allocated 10 minutes to answer questions from the audience. You don’t have to register and there is no membership required to attend this conference.

Twitter Worldwide

The Animal Behaviour Twitter Conference promotes effective science communication and makes science accessible to the masses, without leaving a carbon-foot print. A Twitter conference is the perfect way for researchers to communicate their research and for the audience to learn about scientific research occurring across the world. At a Twitter conference, presenters can reach high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, scientists, and the general public. The Animal Behaviour Twitter Conference is an especially great way to connect college or high school students with science! We encourage students to attend and participate in Q&A sessions during class or outside of class (see participation instructions below).

No Twitter? No problem!

You can attend the Twitter conference even if you don’t have a Twitter account. Simply go to the following website on your computer or smart phone and follow the “Attending the Conference” instructions below:

Already Tweeting?

Already have a Twitter account? Attend the conference and ask questions to the presenters by following the hashtag #AnimBehav2021. In Twitter, search for the conference hashtag: #AnimBehav2021 and select the “Latest” tab to view the most recent tweets. Learn more by reading the “Attending the Conference” instructions below.

Attending the Conference

At the allocated time for a given talk (link to the schedule:, a tweet will pop up with the presentation, which will be a Twitter thread (i.e., a series of sequential tweets). Click on that tweet and the whole presentation will display. After you have viewed the entire presentation, you can navigate back to the live conference feed where new presentations will show up. If you miss a talk, you can visit a presentation at a later time. Go to Twitter and simply search for the #AnimBehav2021 hashtag to view any presentations that you could not attend. To see a step-by-step guide on how to attend the Twitter conference with screenshots, please, visit:

Have a Question?

Have a question about the presentation? If you have a Twitter account you can ask the presenter! After the presenter “tweets” their talk at the scheduled time, you can start asking questions and the presenter will have 10 minutes to answer them. To ask a question, reply to the presenter’s last tweet in the thread by clicking on the “speech bubble icon” (lower left icon below the last tweet). Even after the live Q&A session, you can still ask a question because the presenters will be available during the conference and afterwards. See a step-by-step guide on how to ask questions with screenshots here:

We encourage scientists, researchers, the public, and students at all levels to attend the conference. The ABS and ASAB both believe that making animal behaviour research open and accessible to all is critical to fostering an understanding and appreciation of science generally and the natural world in particular.

Learn more about the Animal Behaviour Twitter conference here: If you have any questions please email us at:

We look forward to seeing you at the first Animal Behaviour Twitter Conference!

Should I be working in the middle of a coup attempt?


I have to admit, I feel a little dirty right now. Because I’ve just spent two days dealing with everything that’s accumulated for a few weeks, before hunkering down to finish a grant before an upcoming deadline.

And as I settle in to work, domestic terrorists have seized the US Capitol in a coup attempt. Lawmakers have fled for safety, the building is being looted, and much of the police are in cahoots with the terrorists. And the President just released a video fomenting his militia, saying how he loves the terrorists, and claiming that when he lost the election, it was fraudulent and stolen from him.

I feel bad for even thinking about work. But then, I really do have to work. This grant has a deadline, and I don’t know if NSF is going to extend it because of terrorism? And I also feel bad for writing about this.

Continue reading

Reaching across the aisle: the inner and outer lives of religious scientists


This is a guest post by Elizabeth Haswell.

Science and religion are two different ways of understanding and interacting with the world, each of which holds incredible power to change lives and influence the course of history. They are often understood to be in complete opposition to each other—and nowhere does this dichotomy play out more clearly than in contemporary US politics. Religious leaders oppose policies based on scientific consensus regarding women’s health, teaching evolution, and, most recently, controlling the spread of COVID-19. 

The need for scientists to communicate effectively outside their fields has never been more important—and has never seemed more hopeless. How can we (scientists) convince them (religious people) to listen to the facts? 

Continue reading

A sign that we don’t care


When I was in grad school, down the third floor hallway at the other end of Ramaley Hall, was the office of a professor who did a lot of undergraduate advising. He had a sign posted on his office door:

It's a sign outside an office in large Times New Roman font that says, "A lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."

I hadn’t heard this particular phrase before.

Since I saw this sign in 1994, I’ve walked past a lot of offices, and I’ve seen this sign plenty of times. Maybe it’s on a door at your own institution. I also saw it last week in a posting on a higher education group in Facebook. I’ve worked in a place that embraces this kind of ethos. Earlier in my career, in a bout of Stockholm syndrome, I might even have said this myself.

Nowadays, when I see one of these signs, I identify it as a red flag, and mentally translate it as: “Inside this door resides a person who doesn’t care.”

Continue reading

Recommended reads #183


Has more than a month passed since I’ve done a rec reads post? My gosh. Which in 2020 time, is, like, 27 years? This is a relatively condensed list of things I’ve bookmarked since the last one. And there are no takes on the election. (Though if you do find a 10,000 word insider’s view of exactly how the Four Seasons Total Landscaping thing went down, because oh man, this will be such a hilarious and pathetic story, please let me know? Because I don’t want to miss that.)

From panic to pedagogy: Using online active learning to promote inclusive instruction in ecology and evolutionary biology courses and beyond

The science of learning vs. proctoring software

Our HyFlex Experiment: What’s Worked and What Hasn’t

The pedagogy of anxiety

Continue reading

Science Has an Intellectual Elitism Problem


This is a guest post by Joshua M.A. Stough.

Over the last few weeks, science twitter has been…let’s say “discussing”, the place of religious faith and spiritualism in the scientific community and society in general. The source of the argument is a simple, but often aggressive assertion that religion is antithetical to science, presented as a binary choice: either you are an intelligent, free-thinking individual who accepts only that which can be empirically tested and validated, or you are a superstitious moron who mindlessly believes the dusty words of ancient charlatans. For many this will sound all too familiar, as it is frequently trotted out by a specific brand of atheists on Twitter, Reddit, and some of the seedier corners of the web. 

Continue reading

Q & A about jobs in primarily undergraduate institutions


This morning, in the midst of all this election fear, I got to liberate my brain for a bit by participating in a Q&A workshop run by the Genetics Society of America on PUI careers. There were a lot of folks there, and it was brimming with questions, it felt like we could have gone on for many hours more.

So, I thought, for all y’all, I could set up this post where you could ask Q&A in the comments, and I will answer them! And, of course, the diverse readership here could also answer as well! Because obviously multiple perspectives based on different experiences are important.

Continue reading

A Practical Guide To College Science Teaching


I’ve occasionally seen photos of new authors unboxing the shipment of their first book, and I thought, wow, that must be exciting.

And, hey, look!

It was kind of exciting. Also, it was very imposter syndrome-y.

Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I wrote the book that I wish I was handed when I started teaching in grad school, and that I could reference as I became an instructor of record.

Continue reading

Using Religious Cultural Competence to Talk to Students and the Public about Evolution


This is a guest post by Elizabeth Barnes.

Over thirty years of education research has revealed how to effectively communicate evolution to religious individuals. If I could boil down that research into one sentence it would be this: Highlighting potential compatibility between religion and evolution and de-emphasizing conflict is the best way to increase acceptance of evolution. Here are concrete steps, backed by research literature, for how to have productive discussions about religion and evolution both in the classroom and with the public.

1)    Don’t assume an individual’s religious beliefs are in conflict with evolution. Unless someone believes in the literal separate creation of species by a God/god(s), their religious beliefs do not have to be in conflict with evolution. Because science is bound to the natural world and cannot prove or disprove the existence of a God/god(s), there are plenty of ways individuals reconcile their religious beliefs with evolution. Further, when we insist that evolution and religion are fundamentally incompatible it only creates more rejection of evolution. In my most recent study, 35% of strongly religious individuals thought that in order to fully accept evolution, they would have to be an atheist. Unsurprisingly, these individuals were the ones that reported accepting evolution the least.

Continue reading

A typical semester courseload is cognitive overload


It feels weird to just write a blog post. I’d just like to say* that I realize things are entirely not normal, and what makes it even more abnormal is how so many of us are expected go about our business as if things were normal.

The last time I was a student taking a full set of classes on the semester system, I was a high school senior. Where I went to college, a full course load was only three classes at a time. Even though my job is to (sometimes) teach courses on the semester system, it’s nothing I’ve experienced as an undergraduate.

A full semester course load is considered to be 15 units. Without any labs involved, that’s five three-unit courses. Holy crap, that’s a lot. I don’t mean that it’s a lot of work, per se, but it’s a lot to think about at the same time. Imagine taking a class in cell biology, one in sculpture, another one in Latin American Literature, and another in physics. And having to wrap your head around all of these all in the span of a few days. That’s a lot of cognitive whiplash! (And that’s only four courses I listed!)

Is this really the way we should be doing things? Is college best designed so that students have their attention divided so much?

The semester system is an extreme of disarray.

Continue reading

Science can lead us to better futures if we lead with hope


This is a guest post by Edauri Navarro Pérez.

The struggle of hope

For a while, I have been struggling with the concept of hope. Our reality has been tackled so hard with tragic events (COVID-19, immigration irregularities and insecurity, climate change, discrimination, and more) that talking about hope felt ironic to me at some point. Moreover, I hardly find answers to the question “how to be hopeful without being naïve and misinformed?”. Although I comprehend that cynicism (1) could be a mechanism to defend ourselves from general misinformation and fears, I tend to criticize cynics most of the time because I do not feel that these postures help move us forward.  I also criticize naivety heavily and believing that things will work out just because, especially when it comes from people with easy access to information (2). Like Maria Popova said once: “…cynicism is both resignation’s symptom and a futile self-protection mechanism against it. Blindly believing that everything will work out just fine also produces resignation, for we have no motive to apply ourselves toward making things better.”

So…how can I be hopeful during one of the worst crises that we have faced as a world? How can we be hopeful if there is so much pain? How can we, with our science, provide more hope?

Continue reading

Stepping up to do the work in an academic society


Today, the Ecological Society of America is dropping its ballot for a new round of seats on the Governing Board. I’m hoping to serve the society as the VP for Education and Human Resources. If elected, I’ll begin a 3-year term in summer 2021.

Continue reading

Recommended reads #181


The author of the infamous Carreira letter just became the Editor-in-Chief of the flagship journal of the American Chemical Society. (This month, he issued another nonpology. He says he regrets writing it. I sure bet he does!)

An American teenager who doesn’t speak Scots wrote many of the Scots Wikipedia entries. Now Wikipedians are figuring out what to do.

It took divorce to make my marriage equal.

Continue reading

Recommended reads #180


A detailed account of how Eunice Foote conceived the role of atmospheric gases in climate warming in 1856, and how she designed and conducted her experiments. It’s pretty cool.

Is lecturing racist?

What is the effect of Article Processing Charges on the geographic diversity of authors? Are paywalled journals more accessible to publish in for people in the Global South? This preprint manuscript is about a study takes advantage of a “natural experiment” in publishing space, and if you have thoughts about equity and access in scientific publishing, I bet you’ll find this fascinating. Last author Emilio Bruna explains this paper in a concise twitter thread.

Continue reading

Bringing new students into the lab during the pandemic


As developed nations are on their way to returning to normal, we in the United States are in this pandemic for the long haul. January 2021 is the earliest that our government will even possibly start to do anything about the situation, and I’m not sanguine about the probability of a legitimate election outcome in what’s left of my country. That means it’s on us to figure out how to do science even under these conditions. Because as scientists, we need to keep doing science, now more than ever.

When I returned from sabbatical three years ago, I held off on bringing new students into my lab, other than doing some short group field projects. I had a bunch of reasons* to not take new students on.

My plan was to ramp back up this year. And I still I think it’s time to for me to get some students back into my lab. This sounds fun!

Continue reading

Recommended reads #179


Here’s a big list of ways to convert typical active learning approaches to a physically distanced classroom, asynchronously online, and synchronously online. It looks supremely helpful if you’re thinking, “I want to do more active learning while teaching in the pandemic, but how?”

Ten simple rules for successful remote postdoc

How the grad students at the UMass Amherst Geosciences department redesigned their seminar series to enhance DEI

It looks like immunity to COVID isn’t so ephemeral, which is good.

Continue reading

How about alternating online and travel conferences?


Now that many of us know what an online conference is like, it appears there’s increased demand for more of then. I would presume that, as societies get more experience running these conferences, they’ll become even more engaging and more accessible.

Here’s an idea for discussion: What do you think about alternating online and in-person conferences?

Continue reading

Are recommendation letters a bad thing?


In the past couple years, we have made progress in dropping the GRE, and now the pandemic has come through with a huge assist. Maybe that’s the final blow for the GRE, as programs are now dropping it permanently. Which means that people who cared about the GRE are now placing higher importance on other pieces of applications, including recommendation letters.

Which leads me to ask: Are recommendation letters a good thing or a bad thing? Of course, I don’t think this is a binary matter and there’s a lot of nuance involved here.

I have heard a variety of concerns about recommendation letters in the graduate admissions process, and I think it would be foolhardy for us to think that we’ve made a big amount of progress by getting rid of the GRE. The problem with the GRE is that it doesn’t reflect ability, research potential, or value to the academic community, as it’s more tied to wealth, access to resources, and the accumulation of cultural and social capital. You could say the same thing about recommendation letters, too.

Let me illustrate the problem with recommendation letters with a little, and wholly true, story.

Continue reading

Recommended reads #178


A landmark paper about gender inequities in academic advancement and funding by Rissler et al. just came out in Bioscience. I bet it’s going to become a classic. In this paper, the pool of potential applicants for NSF funding is estimated, and the rates of application and funding are evaluated. The tweet features Figure 1, showing the the frequency of (self-reported) men and women in tenure-track faculty positions by academic rank.

Just moments before Rissler et al. 2020 was published, Caroline Tucker published this blog post as an infuriating and heartbreaking illustration of the mechanisms at work. (You may recognize Dr. Tucker from her work blogging at EEB and Flow, as well as her research on biodiversity and trait-based ecology.) Just in case you wondered how bad the situation is and how much work is in front of us, please read the Bioscience paper and Dr. Tucker’s post.

Continue reading

What’s up with the new NSF GRFP priority areas?


The new solicitation for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program arrived last night with NSF’s daily digest bulletin. There were eight items they brought to our attention as changes from last year, but when I was going through it late this morning, the soundtrack screeched to a halt:

4. Although NSF will continue to fund outstanding Graduate Research Fellowships in all areas of science and engineering supported by NSF, in FY2021, GRFP will emphasize three high priority research areas in alignment with NSF goals. These areas are Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Information Science, and Computationally Intensive Research. Applications are encouraged in all disciplines supported by NSF that incorporate these high priority research areas.

Ummm, what?

I am simply asking, what the heck is going on? I’ve got a lot of questions.

Continue reading

Introducing Earth Science Mentor Match


This is just a quick post to let you know that there is now an Earth Sciences Mentor Match program available!

If you’re an undergrad in Earth Sciences who would like a more experienced person to help advise you through applying to grad school, and/or help you write an application for a graduate fellowship such as the NSF GRFP, then you can ask for a mentor! The program targets students who are in groups underrepresented in the Earth Sciences, and is open to all. Likewise, if you’re in the Earth Sciences and would like to volunteer to mentor, please sign up!

This program is designed to increase access and help make the playing field less inequitable to the BIPOC students who have been minoritized in these disciplines.

Continue reading

Making sure your online course has what it needs


For a lot of us, this Fall will be our first experience teaching fully online. This shouldn’t be like emergency teaching in the Spring. We can be ready.

I think it’s unfair to students if, yet again, we bumble through online teaching. What can do we do to make sure that our courses are designed to engage students and support their learning?

What works in a classroom often doesn’t work online, and what works online often doesn’t work well in a classroom. A lot of us will be stretching our skill set as instructors. At the very least, we can learn what is supposed to work online as we design our classes.

Continue reading