Recommended reads #42


I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears re-mentioning. NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology has a superb and informative blog, DEBrief. The latest post is called: How to win over panels and influence program officers: advice for effective written reviews. If you’ve ever wondered what NSF wants to know when you’re writing a review and the best way to write one, this is what to read.

There is a useful and detailed “mentoring” section on the lab page of Anna Dornhaus, of the University of Arizona. These pages include a lot of links to other resources, separated for undergrads, grad students, and postdocs.

An open letter to parents of college students, from Hope Jahren.

Preparing students for class: How to get 80% of students reading the textbook before class. This is a peer-reviewed paper in a physics journal. But the abstract says it works just as well for biology courses. So there.

From Veritasium, so frickin’ good, a 7-minute video: This Will Revolutionize Education. It explains the history of dumb technological fads in education. The best line, of many, in this video: “The fundamental role of a teachers is to guide the social process of learning.” Totally worth your while, and worth even more the time of your administrators. If you can dupe your adminfolk to watch this, even better.

The invasive hippos of Colombia are getting fixed. Fixed, as in, “take Rover to the vet to get fixed.” This is not a small task. You knew about the invasive hippos, right? It turns out that druglord Pablo Escobar had two hippos in his private zoo. A boy and a girl. And then in the aftermath of the Escobar empire, they just sort of made their way beyond the Escobar estate. So far, these hippos have only suffocated one cow, to our knowledge.

Jeremy Fox had a post at Dynamic Ecology reviewing the various tools that we can use to detect plagiarism, in addition to the widely used Turnitin service. The comments on the post are also useful. (On my campus we use Turnitin, which is integrated with our online course management system. And it gets lots of exercise in our department.)

Scientists are not that smart. Science is about effort and creativity.

This is hilarious. A pair of annoying pundits were doing their annoying punditry on C-SPAN, and their mom called into the show. To scold them for being so annoying. The first thirty seconds are hilarious, just to see the looks on their faces.

How far do you go with collaborative coding? Simon Goring makes the point that when you’re the collaborator dude on a project, it matters that other people in the project can understand what you’re doing. On the other hand, the reason people collaborate with coders is because they provide specialized skills, but working to avoid being needlessly inaccessible is still important.

I apparently missed this great piece in TREE two years ago by Fischer, Ritchie & Hanspach: about the important of Quality of science over Quantity of science in publishing. Box 1 in the paper has a very specific “roadmap” to get academia beyond quantity. The road looks as navigable as the road to Mordor or the route in the Phantom Tollbooth, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the trip. Euan Ritchie puts this paper in perspective on his site.

What do obscenely inexpensive oil prices mean for the future of oil exploitation? To keep this place from becoming a furnace, massive amounts of oil reserves must stay in the ground, resulting in lost profit for people making money off of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a dilemma that as we become more fuel efficient and ramp up use of alternative energy sources, the demand for oil will drop relative to supply, resulting in cheap oil prices. Which’ll in turn make people want to use oil. Here’s a piece where we hear what Al Gore has to say about it.

There’s a new tree for birds, with a lot of interesting finds.The Avian Phylogenomics Project site, which manages to be both slick and useful. Among the key results are that what we’ve called raptors are, for sure, not a monophyletic group. And a lot, lot more.

This new field station built by the University of Chicago is a gorgeous structure. So purty that it was written up with a bunch of photos in the New York Times Home and Garden section.

One year ago (back when people would leave comments with additional recommended reads, boy that was great, hint hint), Wendy recommended the book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Well, I finally read it. It was really good. If there’s an aspiring naturalist in your life, especially though not necessarily a tweenish girl, this could be a nice present. And I just saw while preparing this link that next year a followup is due! That will be a nice read, I bet.

I recently put in my preorder for Rob Dunn’s next book, The Man Who Touched His Own HeartI imagine it’ll be at least as half good as his last two, which makes it a must-read.

Please list comments with other great reads over the last couple weeks! For links, thanks to Kelle Cruz and Emilio Bruna. Note that posts will more sporadic over the holidays and beyond, in part because I’m away on fieldwork for half of January.

3 thoughts on “Recommended reads #42

  1. Glad you liked it! I didn’t know about the sequel, can’t wait!

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