Recommended reads #41


45 things I’ve learned about science since I was a student, by Rob Dunn. Knowing these things matters. Staying conscious of these things when it matters is even more important. Pretty much the best set of advice for science and life as a scientist I can recall ever reading.

American universities are experiencing a brain drain, especially the University of Texas.

Next year I’ll be able to wear this awesome women-in-STEM shirt designed by Elly Zupko. You can still order your own! The kickstarter was fully funded within a day, and there’s still almost a month left. Get in on it, and share this widely! I’m loving this constructive response to the sexist incident that interfered with the successes of the comet robot mission. It’s lot better than dudes using shrill insults.

Here is a particularly cogent argument against traditional grading systems. It’s in Robert Talbert’s blog on the Chronicle of Higher Ed site. The whole blog itself looks pretty good, actually.

A paper just came out in PNAS explaining that triclosan, the widespread antimicrobial compound that people like to put in soap and a whole other bunch of stuff, promotes liver tumors.

So, the story about how the Secretary Bird got its name might be apocryphal? The latest from Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

“It’s quite striking how a small number of “elite” labs function as gateways to the professoriate. We found that about 10% of all faculty members are members of the National Academy of Sciences, but about 60% of new faculty members did a postdoc with a member of the National Academy.”

The British Ecological Society just published the handiest, informative, and most useful Guide to Data Management in Ecology and Evolution. This goes looks like to be a good partner to another BES document, a so-excellent-it-might-be-perfect guide to peer review. Kudos and thanks to the good folks of the BES.

One down, hundreds to go. The University of Alabama at Birmingham is shutting down its football program. But it’s not a principled stand about the exploitation of student labor, the corruption in the NCAA or the fact that American Football directly causes severe brain injury and dementia. It’s just about saving money.

You might be wondering how a 25 g mouse can take down a 9 kg albatross chick, but I can assure you that a) it does happen, and b) it’s a big problem.

That and a lot more from bird guy Alex Bond, who has been chronicling extended fieldwork in Tristan de Cunha, the most remote group of islands inhabited by humans anywhere in the universe. This is a seriously underbiologized location. He’s been writing about his work there on his site, The Lab and Field, with a series of posts. Prologue; Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5. The only reason to not read this is that you’ll get jealous at the adventure cool natural history.

Do you want the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands to shut down? Me neither! You can help prevent this from happening – which might be imminent – by contributing. And if you click through there’s a great image of Darwin-as-Santa. Is individual philanthropy of non-wealthy academics a reliable funding model for an important research station? Of course not. But as a stopgap measure to allow them to find their feet, it’s not a reasonable thing to request at the moment.

My great-great-aunt discovered Francium. And it killed her.

A nice obituary for Chespirito, the comic genius.

BioMed Central discovered at least 50 papers with fake peer review in several of their journals, in which authors recommended reviewers with email addresses that point back at themselves.

Bring back the dead with old ecology photos. While long-term ecological data are valuable, old photos can often provide things that you won’t get in a spreadsheet.

An organization that advocates vegetarianism did a big survey about who, how and why some Americans are vegetarian. The results are really interesting. As one of the 2% of veg people in this country, I’ve always been curious about the numbers of people who adopt – and typically drop – the veg habit, and their motivations and challenges.

Meg Duffy flipped her intro Bio classroom. And it worked out well. Find out why she’s reluctant to recommend it to others. (How’s that for clickbait?)

NSF has a three-month pilot forum to discuss graduate education. Want NSF to know about priorities and challenges that might shape future funding guidelines? It would be a good idea to participate!

My Vassar College faculty ID makes everything ok.

The Chronicle of Higher Edcuation has “created a booklet full of tips, trends, and ideas collected from news articles and first-person accounts” about How to Be a Dean.

The community of Imperial College London suffered a tragic loss with the death of Stefan Grimm. Why would an academic kill himself over the prospect of a looming performance review? I recommend we listen, very carefully, to Kate Bowles.

This is what happens if you buy a scam dissertation. It’s a long read that I heard was funny.

Conferencing with a kid, on Tenure, She Wrote. A great prescription in this post: “Treat graduate students like the adults they are.”

The campus alcohol problem that nobody (except Rebecca Schuman) talks about.

The site Biodiverse Perspectives publishes Flump every Friday. That’s not so much an insult, but just a fact. If you’re looking for even more links on Friday, try Flump. And, of course, Dynamic Ecology’s friday links.

One thought on “Recommended reads #41

  1. I found the Schuman article to be questionable. In many of her articles she just seems like someone who is bitter at having washed out. I waded into the comments, and saw that was a fairly common view.

    Do you really think there’s a problem with faculty alcohol consumption? This runs counter to my own experience, but I’ve only ever been in public schools.

    My suspicion is that SLACs might do a better job of fostering such a culture. Whereas policies against alcohol consumption and research demands might diminish such a culture at public and R1 institutions respectively.

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