Recommended Reads #50


If the names Gould, Lewontin, EO Wilson, DS Wilson, Dobzhansky, or Tinbergen mean something to you, then oh my gosh you’ll find this interview very illuminating. It’s amazing, with a few decades of perspective, how frank people will be about their own experiences. Seriously, if you haven’t read this, I really really recommend you read it. Yeah, this whole list is recommended reads. So I guess this is a highly recommended one.

A nice blog post journal article with some thoughts on keeping field stations and marine labs afloat in turbulent times.

How one editor at PNAS makes the decision to do a desk reject.

Claire Potter contrasts “liberal arts colleges” and “sprawling, urban universities.” The number of overgeneralizations is a bit high, but nonetheless I find myself nodding at some things.

27 editors at Nature are planning to resign unless they stop the corrupt practice of payola reviews. Nice to see some ethical behavior over there.

The academic senate of the University of Maryland is toying with the idea of changing the employment classification of postdocs, which would cut back on basic employment benefits and retirement. Because, they, um, need to save money. On the backs of postdocs. I mean, “postdoctoral students” as they are called.

The conservation biology community, or at least some fraction of it, has gotten into an argument over this well-written and kinda persuasive piece by Jonathan Franzen about climate change and biodiversity protection. The last act of the piece, featuring the work of Janzen and Hallwachs in northwestern Costa Rica, is compelling. The Audubon society got really pissed and accused Franzen of intellectual dishonesty. Some other people said, “meh.” It didn’t take long for people to ask, are we still arguing about the competing priorities of climate change and species loss?

Let’s say you worked at a university with alumni that were Nobel Laureates, and also had Heisman Trophy Winners? (The latter is the an award that a private trust gives to an athlete who plays collegiate American Football). Would you be cheesed off if there were statues of the athletes and not of the laureates? Here’s a petition you can sign to request statues honoring the Nobel Laureates who graduated from the University of Florida. “It’s about getting the word to the UF community that we value our academic heroes as much as our sports heroes.”

On a related note: 10 simple rules [to maximize your chances] to win a Nobel Prize.

An informative episode in the attribution challenges within the internet of today: An apology.

Here is an effective rhetorical takedown of the fear mongering “Food Babe“:

Hari’s rule? “If a third grader can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.”
My rule? Don’t base your diet on the pronunciation skills of an eight-year-old.

You can’t make this stuff up: Plagiarism guideline paper retracted for…plagiarism.

Ecologist Casey terHorst uses science to make the case for going veg. Or at least, less meaty.

The numbers in this report on non-tenure-track instructors are mouthdroppingIn 2014, out of MUN’s 2,139 faculty staff, 997 were contractual, according to the latest auditor general report. Meanwhile, full professors at MUN are only required to teach two courses per term, and earn an average of $135,141, according to a 2010 Statistics Canada report. Associate professors come in well over the $100,000 mark, with assistant professors averaging $86,654. They also receive health and dental benefits, paid vacation and sick leave, and a pension plan.

Here’s what you “should” read.

I realized early on that many instructors teach introductory biology classes incorrectly. Too often evolution is the last section to be taught, an autonomous unit at the end of the semester. I quickly came to the conclusion that, since evolution is the foundation upon which all biology rests, it should be taught at the beginning of a course, and as a recurring theme throughout the semester.

“The scientific world is stunned by research which backs an Aboriginal legend about how palm trees got to Central Australia.” (I don’t know if “stunned” is the right word. But it’s interesting.)

The tiny island nation of Nauru, an eight-square-mile speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, was once one of the richest countries in the world, with a phosphate industry accounting for 80% of its economy. But around the year 2000, everything changed. The phosphate that had enabled many to live in affluence at home, buy houses abroad and send their children to expensive boarding schools was running out.

There is crying in science, and that is okay.

Just when you thought it was safe to run Generalized Linear Mixed Models. It is, but tune in for good caveats and approaches: For testing the significance of regression coefficients, go ahead and log-transform count data.

Small museums matter.

Only Ten Black Students Were Offered a Spot at Stuyvesant High School This Year, But Is This Really a Problem? Man, everybody wants to pass the buck to the people who generate the applicant base. Nobody wants to work to build their applicant base or reconsider their evaluation criteria or process in a way that promotes equity. Sigh.

Chris Buddle, entomologist and Deanlet at McGill, is doing it right. He’s shadowing students to learn about their experiences and learn more about how to do his job well. I’m so bored of hearing whines about administrators who aren’t student centered, when I’d bet on average they’re about as focused on students as faculty, if not more so. (And no, I’m not going into admin for this reason.)

Speaking of which, the real reason college costs so much.

“Why would anybody would tally impact factors in the first place? Who has what to gain?”

Feeling unappreciated? Give yourself a boost and read what the critics wrote about The Beatles when they first came to the US in 1964.

A very useful list: Resources and Strategies for Recruiting a Diverse Faculty. If you’re about to run a search, please read this before you start the search.

FAQ: So Your Company Has Been Found Using Alex [Wild]’s Photographs Without Permission. What Next?

One of those twitter hashtaggy things happened this week, in which a phrase was “trending” on twitter, when scientists shared “IAmAScientistBecause.” Some focused on the expressions of joy, but there were also some smug expressions of superiority.

When someone gets denied tenure for getting involved in political advocacy to protect the safety of women, they can wage a credible lawsuit against the university if someone in power actually suggests that pre-tenure advocacy is a bad idea. Like this situation at Harvard.

Our literature isn’t a big pile of facts. This is yet another really good thing from Scientist Sees Squirrel.

Have a nice weekend.


One thought on “Recommended Reads #50

  1. read your post this morning around 7 am; modified my sustainability class lecture to use the Republic of Nauru as a case study an hour later. Thanks for the reminder of this story!

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