Recommended reads #118


What I wish I knew before becoming a professor

The accidental citizen science of security cameras

The futile resistance to classroom tech

Rare diseases are not rare

On accuracy in science storytelling.

Science just published an important piece entitled: Harassment in science is real.

If you’re looking for one map that is keeping track of all the wildfires in the US, this one is up to the job.

Natural history makes a comeback on campus. (I’m not really convinced this is generally the case, but, still, worth a read.)

Museums are strong partners in biodiversity education

Delete your account at (which I warned you about many moons ago, by the way)

Next time someone is asking you for a story to explain the value of basic research, pull this one out, about virus-proof mosquitos.

College rankings hinder economic equality

Apparently, just the existence of bitcoin results in the consumption of so much energy, it’s difficult to fathom. I’ve read a few different pieces that try to explain why bitcoin is the run the way it does (in which new bitcoins are “mined” with computationally intensive procedures), and this one is kinda the best. Bitcoin is weird. Still, if I bought 20 bitcoin a few years ago, I could have cashed out this week to pay off my house if I held on this long.

Here are some frank answers from NSF-BIO to questions about the new no-deadline approach.

Dirty old men on the faculty

This is a witch hunt: “The witches are coming, but not for your life. We’re coming for your legacy. The cost of being Harvey Weinstein is not getting to be Harvey Weinstein anymore. We don’t have the justice system on our side; we don’t have institutional power; we don’t have millions of dollars or the presidency; but we have our stories, and we’re going to keep telling them.” There are men in our fields who deserve the reckoning that has been visited upon Harvey Weinstein, who continue to persecute lab members and other people over whom they hold power. This reckoning will be most important not for justice to perpetrators, but instead for respecting the targets and would-be targets of abuse, so they may be given the opportunities in science that they deserve.

Why journals like “reject, but resubmit.” So much this. So I am doing editorial stuff for two journals now, one of which has an R&R option, the other one I need to give either “major revisions” or a “reject.” In the latter, I have clearly have be emphatic that the decision is contingent on all of the revisions being done, and in some cases, it’s not even clear if the necessary changes/explanations will be adequate. There’s a bar to clear, and an R&R says, don’t send it back unless you are sure you can clear the bar, so if the revisions are truly major and you don’t have an option to do an R&R, then this requires more precise language, but also doesn’t signal as effectively. In the journal without R&R I’ve had a couple situations involving reviewers saying they made big changes on the revised submission, but it’s obvious they didn’t do what was asked of them, and it’s a waste of everybody’s time.

A Congressional assault on graduate education

How children change the way we see

What’s a bigger threat – normalization or alarmism? (I think they’re both threats, and this is interesting to read as we think about how to respond when Nazi-esque things happen to and around us.)

As faculty spending on diversity surges, graduate schools remain predominantly white.

Who gets Geology PhDs? “To summarize: Between the years 1973-2012, the number of geology PhDs earned has increased for white women, decreased for white men, and stayed depressingly low for all minorities (including Asian Americans, despite a brief jump in the mid-1990s) with no signs of improvement.

The frequency distribution of human wealth doesn’t look the much different than the frequency distribution of tree species in a species-rich tropical forest. Maybe someone will find great meaning in this observation, but I haven’t seen anybody proclaiming any grand insights or cool findings yet.

This interview with Beronda Montgomery is great, about developing your own “academic index.” About setting the terms about how you define your own success.

You probably heard of the massive disaster of an OpEd that was perpetrated by Associate Professor Alex Pyron of George Washington University. Maybe you’re one of the more than 3,000 people who signed a one of the response letters. David Steen has done us the favor of accumulating all of the responses in one place. A lot of them make the same (and very important) points about how Pyron was factually in error, ethically bankrupt, exercised the worst judgement ever, and now isn’t even taking enough responsibility after the fact and is focused on making excuses instead of amends. I haven’t read all of this — thank goodness! — but I think the most useful one that we can learn from is from Josh Schimel, who points out that Pyron’s greatest failure was as a writer, who forsook so many of the basic principles of writing in this piece.

Radiolab had an episode on stereotype threat, if radiolab is your thing.

This is cool, an NSF funding program targeting people who have been on a hiatus from research (for whatever reason) to get back into the groove. Have you put away the saddle but feel ready to retrain to do some cool stuff? It’s from the CBET (Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems)

In a recent rec reads post, I mentioned a report from a student about sexual misconduct from Professor Jay Fliegelman. That news is having an impact on his legacy.

Here’s a research paper from people at Facebook about how they use the information in all of those posts that you start to type, then delete without posting. Because, you know, they track all this.

By in the image of this post, you’ll see Erica McAlister’s The Secret Life of Flies. Just upon looking inside, it’s gorgeous, well written, entertaining, and full of cool natural history stories. In the last rec reads, I linked to a great New York Times profile of her, but her book only recently arrived in the post, and I’m thrilled to have it in my tarsae!

I just saw this on Thursday night (courtesy of Zen Faulkes on twitter) but haven’t read it yet, but it looks like a compelling story.  A murder from 57 years ago just saw a conviction – here’s the story from 12 years ago about the case against the murderer when he was the sole suspect in the case.

I hope you have a pleasant weekend.

Oh, I’m experimenting with something for a bit. I’m shutting down new comments on the site, and instead, encouraging discussion to take place on twitter. You can just tag @smallpondsci on twitter, or reply to the tweet corresponding to this post. If you’re not familiar with twitter, here’s a basic guide, and you can set up an account with a pseudonym if you wish. I’ve got a bunch of reasons for trying this out. First, the vast majority of conversation about posts (that is open to the public, of which I’m aware) is on twitter anyway, so it makes sense to not have some of it here, and some of it there. Second, perspectives on twitter differ than the ones on the site, and it’d be great if ideas that disagree with one another were on the same platform. Third, commenting on blogs in general has declined as people are now treating blogs as other forms of published journalism, and they discuss blogs posts in their own social media of choice, I’m just trying to get ahead of this curve. Fourth, the activation energy for commenting, or commenting on a comment, is lower on twitter (once you’re on twitter, that is) and I’d like to encourage a broader set of voices to comment, instead of the usual suspects (whose perspectives I greatly appreciate, to be clear); I think a lot of people are reluctant to comment knowing the permanence and visibility of their writing on here. Fifth, I don’t want to have to fuss with moderating out irrelevant, inappropriate or harmful comments (which doesn’t happen often, but when they happen they should be dealt with promptly), and twitter has a reporting apparatus for these things (which has a whole bunch of issues but that’s another thing). Sixth, comments on posts sit there for perpetuity, and while there are some comments that are great to have there in that manner, others aren’t as focused or helpful or relevant, and keeping them there gives them an undue weight to them — essentially I’m not sure I want to share the platform that I’ve made with whomever wants to leave a comment. Seventh, this idea of moving discussion to twitter has been received favorably among people who have expressed interest in running a new public ecology blog that is in development, and while that site would be different from Small Pond in a lot of ways, I’d like to see how it works out.

Comments are closed.