Recommended reads #69


Here’s a profile of Vojtech Novotny that makes him look great, because he is.

America’s climate refugee crisis has already begun.

NSF says it won’t tolerate harassment at grantee institutions. Which has always been policy, so on this front, nothing has changed. Actively reminding us of existing policy isn’t bad though, I guess. Letting us know what an institution gets a sanction will be better.

NSF writes a story about how to be a good mentor, by listening to the people who have received NSF mentoring awards.

I little heart this English translation of a paleo paper, from Mary Anning’s Revenge. Since I’ve started this site, whenever I have a paper coming out, I wrote a post explaining the paper for a broader audience, and I think this is a really good thing. And if I have a paper coming out that I don’t think is worthwhile to explain for a general audience, then I really have to consider whether the work itself is worth my time either.

Basic science can’t survive without government funding. From the former CTO of Microsoft.

Why I don’t want to be paid for peer review. I loved reading this.

My podcast — Not Just Scientists — is going strong! We’re up to 9 episodes now, they come out every two weeks. Two episodes were all about the job application and interview process at teaching-intensive institutions.

Let’s say you’re president of an expensive private college and you’re coming under pressure because student retention rates aren’t high enough. What do you do? Do you plan interventions for students to find out sources of poor satisfaction and reach out to support those who are struggling academically? I guess you could. But if you’re Simon Newman of Mount St. Mary’s, then you take a different approach – you identify those not doing well and try to get them to leave campus very quickly, so you’re not accountable to the Feds.

Eight things you need to know to get authentic race research published.

The scientist who was found to commit fraud related to STAP cells published a book in which she says she was framed.

Guess the correlation! The first (and only) time I played, I got 149 gold coins.

Changing the department culture. Every place is different, and the little things matter.

More than 10 years ago, David Bowie wrote a piece about his 25 favorite records. Are your favorite albums on there too?

This is fresh to me, though not brand new. Have you ever wondered how is it that Thomas the Tank Engine gets away with teaching kids how to be compliant and hardworking cogs in a rather exploitative dictatorial regime? I mean, have you ever watched the show or read the books? I’m not the only one, thankfully. This is a nice NPR story about it.

This is a remarkable (and remarkably told) story: The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene.

Why small is beautiful in higher education. (I actually don’t buy this argument at all, but it’s about Small Pondesque issues so I thought I’d include it anyway.)

Despite government assistance, a lot of college students are going hungry. I see this at my own work, with some students who literally cannot afford to eat. This story explains the issue pretty well: “People often think that college students are aged 18 to 25, childless, and attending a four-year institution. But that’s not the experience of the typical college student. In fact, most students are older, low income, raising a family, or attending a community college.. ‘The nontraditional student is the new normal… We shouldn’t be surprised that this group is reporting food shortages.’ Roughly half of American high-school students qualify for free- or reduced-price meals — kids whose needs don’t change when they go to college.”

Piers Sellers writes: “I’m a climate scientist who has just been told I have Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis puts me in an interesting position.

It’s only taken several centuries but the scientific community is finally moving towards the publishing peer-reviewed articles along with their raw data. Since this is a change from the status quo, things are moving slowly. The parties that are at greatest risk from the change (e.g., those developing nations or outside major research institutions) are adjusting to the new landscape. You’d think that data from clinical trials would be exactly the kind of thing that needs to be public. The New England Journal of Medicine published two editorials, one about increasing data access and another one that was, well, counterproductive and adversarial. The latter brought the open data fundamentalists out in full hashtag, #researchparasites. Here’s a story that, at glance, appears to be one of the even-handed treatments. I gotta admit I’m not sympathetic with Harvard professors that don’t want to share the data from published clinical trials. But I also gotta admit that there are some disingenuous arguments from the most fervent proponents of open data, who tend to claim that it’s about scientific transparency and validity but I don’t see real effort to affirm the validity of data from papers that have open data. There seems to be an intentional effort to avoid or dismiss the concerns of data generators. A lot of interest in convincing people but not enough interest in being convinced. You can get to open data faster with an open mind. Which is why I’m not engaging on this topic, other than some stray thoughts here.

Some universities have the privilege of being a part of the Beckman Scholars program. How is it that they choose campuses? They use these criteria, looking at activity on campuses:

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Support
NIH Academic Research Enhancement Awards
National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Awards
Various NSF Undergraduate Research Awards
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Grants
Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation grants
Research Corporation Cottrell College Science Awards
American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Awards
Active chemistry and biological sciences participation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research annual meetings (NCUR)

In other words, the Beckman Foundation doesn’t want to make social change, they want to fund people at the top of the heap so they can add their name to the successes. Hey Beckman, you really want to make a difference in science? Please swing by the lowly campuses that aren’t already funded up the wazoo but have amazing students who need your support. Just sayin’.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing these recommended reads posts for so long. Have a great weekend.