Recommended reads #54


Here’s a post from Methods in Ecology and Evolution with the Top Ten Tips for Reviewing Statistics. I do wish people who review my stuff consistently followed these guidelines.

One of the most special things I’ve read in a while. About teaching, love, parenting, grief, and Pixar.

Crap Wildlife Jobs got featured in Nature.

Chris Buddle shares his reflections one year into his service as a “Deanlet,” a term he says he picked up from me. (I picked it up from Mo Donnelly, tropical herpetologist extraordinaire at FIU.)

This interview in Science with a dual-career couple about their job story is fascinating. And the part about their salaries is a doozy.

More evidence that active learning trumps lecturing.

It is very sad news to report that Rafe Sagarin, a marine ecologist, died in an accident this last week. Jarrett Byrnes, in his blog, wrote a passionate memorial for Dr. Sagarin.

I’m betting that you’ve heard about the messed-up “advice” from former AAAS president Alice Huang to a postdoc who is getting regularly ogled by her advisor: “I suggest you put up with it, with good humor if you can.” A lot has been written about this. All I have to say is that pretty much all advice says more about the person offering it than the recipient of the advice. (Which is why I do my best to avoid offering advice in these pages.) If you are interested in how the scientific community responded to Alice, Central Command for the “Don’t Ask Alice” responses is at Tenure, She Wrote.

I don’t give advice, but I sometimes link to self-avowed advice. Such as this excellent piece:  Career Advice From an Oldish Not-Quite Geezer. It’s about making sure that you don’t hit the tail end of your career and realizing you had the wrong priorities.

Why blogging is key to the future of higher ed.” Okay, the title for is dumb. But forgive the author, who probably didn’t write the title. The article itself is interesting if you’re interested in student writing.

As the token female member of this action-adventure team, my job is to kick.

CalArts — a relatively highfalutin’ arts school in the LA area — switched to a gender-blind admissions process for its animation program. And they were surprised to find they mostly accepted women!

Gender equality at work depends on gender equality at home:

The impact of the top leadership is profound; changing your workplace culture is going to be an uphill battle unless your management is committed to the idea that it’s a mistake to sacrifice part of the talent pool for reasons completely unrelated to the jobs being performed.

A paper in Biological Conservation claims that peer review is not a crapshoot. Or that’s what they say they can test with their data and that’s their conclusion.

Tenure, She Wrote wrote about supporting other people’s students.

Quality doesn’t have to come from exclusivity: what happened when a highly selective school in stopped being highly selective but still focused on educational quality.

The Good Enough Professor points out how the higher education funding situation is bad for both STEM and humanities faculty. But the way we are prepared to respond to the crisis differs. Below is a snippet, but go on and read the whole thing.

Everyone is feeling the constriction of publicly funded higher education.  As grant money dries up alongside state budgets, STEM faculty and liberal arts faculty alike are coping with dwindling resources. The difference is, non-liberal-arts faculty confront this reality with the tools they already have ready to hand: the capacity to explain why people should pay for what they have to offer.

Jeff Ollerton looks critically at a disagreement in the pages of Science about pollinator declines. He also wonders about the role of conservation biologists as political activists.

While we’re at it, Charley Krebs is asking if Conservation Biology is a science. He’s got a better case than you might initially imagine:

Now this is certainly a silly question. To be sure conservation ecologists collect much data, use rigorous statistical models, and do their best to achieve the general goal of protecting the Earth’s biodiversity, so clearly what they do must be the foundations of a science. But a look through some of the recent literature could give you second thoughts.

This is a fascinating study that quantified the amount of effort that it takes to write grants, and what actions that grant-seekers should take based on the probability of getting money. The take-home message is that with funding rates below 20%, you pretty much have to spend all of your time looking for money. That’s true, but the math behind it is instructive.

Along the same lines, this article in the LA Times lays out a crystal clear case for how funding for basic science in the US is really really horrible. Man, this is grim when you look at the long term trends. If you choose to read very few things about the science funding crisis, I recommend this one.

If you want something done, give it to a busy person. Then, the busy person becomes becomes miserable:

A new paper by a team of researchers from Duke University, University of Georgia, and University of Colorado looks at not only how extremely competent people are treated by their co-workers and peers, but how those people feel when, at crucial moments, everyone turns to them. They find that responsible employees are not terribly pleased about this dynamic either.

What is model organism Arabidopsis thaliana actually like outdoors?

How temporary economic downturns result in permanent career setbacks for college graduates.

Every little thing about this piece of writing: College students are not customers, is great. As is pretty much everything that Schuman writes. Even on the rare occasion when I disagree with her.

Hippos as meat for the USA:

In 1910, the United States—its population exploding, its frontier all but exhausted—was in the throes of a serious meat shortage. But a small and industrious group of thinkers stepped forward with an answer, a bold idea being endorsed by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times. Their plan: to import hippopotamuses to the swamps of Louisiana and convince Americans to eat them.

This New York Times piece on the absurdity and danger of extraordinarily high salaries for university administrators is on the mark. Yeah, this isn’t new news. But it’s important to keep focusing on it.

3 thoughts on “Recommended reads #54

  1. Thanks for the link love, Terry! There should be a follow-up to that piece–on how liberal arts faculty can more effectively advocate for themselves–in CHE on Tuesday.

  2. So far, the most-clicked link is the Science interview with a dual-career couple. I feel a little dirty about it, because I didn’t intentionally create an upworthy/buzzfeed style clickbait teaser “the part about the salaries is a doozy.” But it is, for what it’s worth.

  3. Thanks for the double shout-out, Terry. I met Mo Donnelly on a TBA course in Tanzania a few years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch (mainly on Facebook, which she loves); she’s amazing, a real force of nature!

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