This is the best explainer ever about social class in universities. Please read and share, especially with the graduate admissions committee.
Last week, I was at a workshop and a fellow participant made an observation that really caught our attention. They explained:
In universities, faculty usually have three types of duties: “scholarship,” “teaching,” and “service.” In their national lab, the job doesn’t include service. Instead, all of the stuff that we would call service, they call “leadership.”
Service is a bad thing. Leadership is a good thing. But what is the difference between university service and university leadership? Maybe if we called it “leadership” instead of “service,” it might be perceived as something more valuable and worthwhile.
At moment, at least for me, a cranial lightbulb turned on.
I’ve seen people talk past one another when discussing undergraduate research. This is usually because each person in the conversation has a radically different notion about what constitutes undergraduate research.
Can you pick the bees out of this lineup? No really, can you?
The NSF-DEB blog has a post about the new guidelines for graduate fellowships, which have a deadline next month.
President Trump’s War on Science. This is an important comprehensive editorial from the Editorial Board of the New York Times.
You’re reading Small Pond Science right now — but a lot of our colleagues don’t read anything resembling a blog. So, for them, I’ve just published a short peer-reviewed paper about how this site addresses a common theme: how to promote equity and inclusion, especially for students in minority-serving institutions.
Think of it as a blog post, but with a lot of useful references in peer-reviewed journals and with the bright and shiny veneer of legitimacy from journal that’s been in print for more than a century. And hopefully fewer typos.
Students might not be aware of the time horizons of applications for opportunities. Oftentimes, these things need more advance planning than expected.
Here I suggest timelines for undergraduates doing research and applying to grad school, particularly within the United States. Please make sure that students working with you are aware of these deadlines.
Applying to graduate school
You should be deep into grad school applications at the start of the Fall, one year before you plan to start grad school.
I hear this a lot: “Bad behavior in academia comes from the guys who have been around for a long time. Times have changed, and they’re stuck in the old ways. We can’t change these guys, but they’re on their way out — and once they retire, things will get better.”
In some narrow cases — an isolated department here or there — this might be true. But as a general principle, I think it’s deeply mistaken.
Some folks want to ban laptops from their classrooms, and others are okay with laptops.
This is a perennially annoying discussion in higher ed today. But I think it’s an important issue because it has the potential to really affect learning.
What do I do? Here’s the language in my syllabus for this semester:
There’s a screenshot of an email from the Department of Energy that is making the rounds. I’d like to add some context to this for folks who haven’t dealt with this kind of stuff directly.
Based on my experience with federal agencies, I regard this as simultaneously outrageous and mundane.
I’ve griped about how undergraduates from wealthy private institutions and public research universities get the lion’s share of graduate fellowships. This happens for some obvious reasons of course, and I’m pleased to introduce a scheme that — with your help — can contribute to fixing this situation.
To get right to it: I’m teaming up with Meghan Duffy to pair up mentors with students from Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) to give them guidance and support as they put together their fellowship applications. (Meg has been the leader on this.)
To participate, see this post from Dynamic Ecology where she describes the project.
I and my family are now up in Oregon to experience the total solar eclipse. Which will be amazing.
This trip wasn’t hard to plan, but only because we were ready many moons ahead of time. I asked for my buddy’s spare bedroom about a year ago. Also, it’s the first official day of classes on my campus. My spouse’s work has a big exodus for the eclipse, no big deal there, but for our son, that’s the day that the big assignments from summer reading are due. So we all had to sort things out ahead of time.
This is the kind of planning that we need to build for students who we are advising and mentoring. Because applying for opportunities is far, far more than just filling out a form, and students who are not savvy to the mechanics of higher education may not appreciate this reality.
This, I think, is ingenious and next-level stuff: Designing malware to hack bioinformatics software by coding it into the DNA of organisms that get sequenced! Which, in the future, maybe could be a real problem?
This is old news, but not to me. In Holland there is (was?) a place that used a misting spray of synthetic DNA that could be used to identify folks who committed robberies.
Now that it’s start-of-semester-get-your-syllabus-ready season, let me remind you of this useful course workload estimator, to make sure that your expectations are well calibrated relative to the number of units associated with a course.
I haven’t had any service or teaching duties on my campus since May 2016. That ends today. I know, boo-hoo. Now I’m looking back at what sabbatical did for me and what I did for sabbatical.
Over my year of sabbatical, I planned to become comfortably proficient with data manipulation and analysis with R. I’m getting there. (I was doing a lot more over sabbatical of course, but this was one of my main objectives.) I figure it’ll take at least a few more manuscripts to get comfortable. As I really should be cranking out a dissertation’s worth of stuff in the next year, I have plenty of opportunity to get better, and the rate limiting step for me is sorting out the code.
When toxic hatemongers* want to speak on our campuses, they don’t have an intellectual discussion in mind — they merely see a win/win situation to promote their own brand.
Preprints are not a standard practice in biology. Nowadays, most papers that get published in peer-reviewed journals were not uploaded to a public preprint server.
Maybe this is changing? It looks like preprints are starting to take off. It’s not clear if this is a wave that will sweep the culture of the field, or just a growing practice among a small subset.
Wow. This opinion piece written by a scientist, who is a whistleblower working in the Department of Interior, is both important and landmine. They essentially reassigned him — and many other senior scientists — to work in the mailroom. Far away from home. We knew in advance that our new federal government was going to be anti-science, and in places like this, it’s as clear as ever. If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s a short op-ed and a key piece of information if you’re trying to stay even the slightest informed about science policy in the US kleptocracy.
This one-minute clip of a US congress member asking a NASA scientist whether it is possible that a civilization was on Mars thousands of years ago is also a must-see.
Summer is sometimes a contemplative time for me. It used to be long hours in the field would give me time to think but now it is just as often that I’m weeding my garden or some other summer activity. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about negative results.