Recommended reads #123


Got milk, must conference

Bioinformatics skills – How to get them and not get scared

Being an academic after experiencing personal catastrophe

How do we ensure the future of our discipline is vibrant? Student reflections on careers and culture of ecology


A Systematic Look at a Serial Problem: Sexual Harassment of Students by University Faculty

Here’s a well-documented account of Lawrence Krauss’s long history of sexual harassment. I’m not involved in his spheres at all (physics and cosmology, and the Skeptic rabble) but still I had heard multiple accounts from people I know, who had been harassed by him. As open secrets go, this appears to have been a very well known one. His misconduct has been tacitly condoned by everybody in Skeptic community who kept inviting him to events despite knowing about his prior acts. Here’s the closer: “Skeptics ‘believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But these weren’t extraordinary claims,’ Hensley said. ‘These things happen to women all the time.'”

When you make a mistake, you have to own it

Prestigious scientist says “Dutch women don’t want to work hard”

Did you know about the massive tunnels dug by giant ground sloths? And there are more than 1000 that we know of? And they sometimes form intricate and deep tunnel networks?

NSF has pulled back staff senior staff from their international offices. This has been an effective component of science diplomacy (which I got to see in action as a grad student while spending a summer doing research in an NSF-sponsored summer institute in Tsukuba, Japan), so this is a bummer.

Jeremy Fox points out that in ecology, there is great institutional diversity in the doctoral training of faculty. Nonetheless, there seems to be a broad perception about how training in an elite institution is important to get a job, and that’s not true for PhD institutions, at least. As for the role of postdoc institutions, I have no idea. By the way, as reported here last month, institutional prestige seems to be everything in some other fields, like sociology.

The data thugs

“Let’s fix peer review” There are ideas in there.

Here’s a biographical account of how SciHub got started.

From the department of not-surprises, researchers in more wealthy institutions have their papers published with open access more often.

An interview with the person who attempted to CRISPR themself in front of cameras.

Rationalization: Why your intelligence, vigilance and expertise probably don’t protect you”

On twitter as a more egalitarian marketplace of ideas.

Los Angeles, Houston, and the appeal of the hard-to-read city. (For the record, I love LA, and have lived in LA for a total of 31 years. I only lived in Houston for less than a year, and just edited out some less-than-charitable remarks about the place.)

On the importance of sponsorship. And how it’s different from mentorship.

“Now, there are people who get Ph.D.s and don’t want to be professors, and that’s great for them. But let’s be honest: Most graduate programs in history are preparing students to be history professors. We can talk all we want about alt-ac careers, but when it comes down to it, few of them actually require a Ph.D., and almost none of them need you to have learned as much as I’ve learned about the day-to-day operations of rural 19th-century parishes. I learned all that because I wanted to be a history professor, and because that’s what my program trained me to be. I certainly didn’t learn all that because I wanted to find a new career at 35.”

The author of the preceding piece wrote an FAQ to deal with the response they received.

Academic nomads and academic settlers

If you’re in the mood for a delicious takedown of Steven Pinker, here you go.

Have a great weekend. And get ready for Monday — the launch of Rapid Ecology: a site for all ecologists. If you’d like to write a blog post and want to attract a sizable audience, then try Rapid Ecology!