Recommended reads #192


Ten simple rules for productive lab meetings

I Signed Up to Write College Essays for Rich Kids. I Found Cheating Is More Complicated Than I Thought.”

What The ‘Return To The Office’ Fight Is Really About – I thought this was a fascinating explanation about how people want to use the office environment as a way of exercising their soft power over others.

There are a lot of thoughts out there about Nikole Hannah-Jones’s rejection of UNC’s tardy split vote for tenure from the board of trustees. But I think the most essential read about this is her own words when her move to Howard was announced. She not only tells the whole story as I haven’t seen it told elsewhere, she’s clear and profound about her motivation and the effect of her choice. (If you would like the quick upshot of this episode, this recent article in the LA Times gives a quick summary at the start.)

Some really cool natural history about goannas.

A really nice editorial in Science about protecting and supporting Field Stations and Marine Laboratories. (Now that I’m becoming the director of one, I imagine you’ll be hearing more about field stations than you have before!)

A really interesting piece about the ephemerality of information on the internet.

This academic article argues how The Gaia Hypothesis is a foundation for climate change denialism and describes how it was funded by the fossil fuel industry. Definitely fuel for thought.

Here’s an argument for the redesign of NSF GRFPs. There used to be explicit funding of GRFP funding for “minority” graduate students, but federal guidelines did away with this a couple decades ago. I think there are a many policy approaches that could be used to target much more of the funding to genuinely increase representation, which will mean getting the support to minoritized and low-income students who are principally enrolled in lower-endowment and less prestigious undergraduate institutions. Incremental change isn’t really going to get the job done, but there are a lot of internal challenges and constraints. I think one straightforward change that could make a big difference is to apply a cap based on the baccalaureate institution of the applicants, based on per capita undergraduate enrollment. If anybody wants to talk about this in more detail, please drop me a line.

My apology,” by Sam Lipsyte

In case you’re wondering how it came to be that the far-right extremists have coalesced on critical race theory as a thing to attack.

I’ve heard this☝🏻sentiment from a quite a range of folks. (I didn’t know or ever met Lewontin, and the only former student of his who I know personally is quite the opposite of a jerk.) I was introduced to his work, and a variety of arguments that he engaged in, as an undergrad from an evolutionary biology professor who was steeped into and invested in some of the big arguments from the 70s, (punctuated equilibria and sociobiology and spandrels and such). It all sounded rather aggressive and unfriendly. Then I started working on ants, which then introduced me to a different perspective on these arguments as most ant folks at the time were inclined to side with Wilson on a variety of matters, but with folks just as aggressive and contentious. It’s curious to me (and by that, I don’t mean to imply any more — it’s purely curious to me) how a person who has left such an impression of kindness and gentleness has generated disciples and trainees that have steered the other way. But, I suppose, that’s what happened with Jesus of Nazareth, too, who by all accounts seems to have been a kind and gentle guy.

Not allies, but “alliars.”

About 17 years ago, I had the pleasure of briefly meeting astronaut Wally Funk and hearing her speak (and we got a photo of her with my F1, who was an infant at the time). She was downright inspirational. She should have been piloting a trip to space decades ago, but I suppose being a passenger now is better than not being one. This story about her upcoming trip to space is nice. If you’re not that familiar with the Mercury 13, it’s a story that you might be curious to learn a lot more about! (And also, the alternate history TV series For All Mankind explores the idea how women in the space race could have accelerated the advance of feminism, which I thought was a good watch, and the ensemble really grows on you.)

The obesity wars and the education of a researcher: A personal account” This is a fascinating story from a researcher who was simply trying to publish straightforward information but ended up getting flattened by dogma that wasn’t based on evidence. The equivalent kind of thing exists, I suspect, in every field.

I hope you’re having a nice summer. Or winter. Or wet season. Or dry season. I hope you’re having a nice time.

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