13 ways to keep bugs away from you when you’re in your patio or yard. I think this is a great listicle that actually relies on knowledge from experts.
Since it’s been quite a while since the last post, I’ve accumulated a particularly good crop of reads.
A math professor from Columbia applied his own skills to demonstrate the extraordinary and counterproductive measures that his own institution has gone to in order to game a ranking system run by a magazine. Absolutely bananas. This is absolutely damning. Here’s the executive summary and here’s the long-form version. (And here’s the NYT article, but I haven’t read it, but I’m linking to it because it’s the local paper.)
Welcome to the “what he said” edition of rec reads.
I could excerpt bits but really, the whole thing is a must-read, so just go on and read it.
Not only does Dr. Yoder have valuable things to say about how our scientific community has allowed a destructive person to remain in their community as a peer, this also is a gorgeous piece of prose. I didn’t write about this whole affair because I wasn’t sure if I could hit the mark just right, and I’ve seen others miss the mark. Here goes Jeremy getting it right with tone, context, kindness, clarity, and strength. It takes time to write so well and I think he’s done a public service to give us a lodestar as we move forward.
Hi, it’s been a while. I hope you had a nice holiday break? I think there are some real gems in here.
The Professor: “Maybe the most powerful person is the one who dares to refuse the gift.”
Note the date on this article and you’ll find it was quite prescient: The Pandemic Movie of Our Time Isn’t Contagion. It’s Jaws.
Last Thursday, many months of investigative reporting culminated in a comprehensive and detailed article about the prevailing atmosphere of sexual misconduct in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The article describes the tolerance of multiple serial offenders, and how STRI has not shown any sign of yet attempting a substantial process to repair this culture. Many survivors came forward for interviews, and yet this is only a tiny fraction of those who could have come forward. And there are even more who have stayed away because they were forewarned.
If you haven’t read this article yet, please do so. Here’s the link again.
This story hit close to home for me in a few ways: as a tropical biologist, as a person who personally knows a few of the survivors in the article and more who were not in the article, as a PI who has regularly sent students to work in tropical field stations, and as a director of a field station who is responsible for developing a healthy and safe institutional culture.
There’s one thing I want everybody to know about this situation: We know what should have been done. It is easy to know what needs to be done. There is a clear literature for this situation. The National Academies released a major report in 2018 that specifies clear steps that leaders must take to address the epidemic of gendered misconduct in STEM. Just weeks ago, the Workshop To Promote Safety In Field Sciences produced a report that provided “52 recommendations targeted at improving field science culture change, as well as misconduct accountability, policy, and reporting.”
How learning feels now (after so many months of COVID)
preprint: Gender Imbalance in the Editorial Activities of a Researcher-led Journal [which happens to be eLife]
And yes, it’s been a month since the last one of these posts, but honestly that’s all I’ve got for the moment! I haven’t been reading much journalism of late. But in other reading, I’ve been enjoying the trilogy of the Third Body Problem by Cixin Liu and the Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin. And I’ll be starting on Klara and The Sun soon.
“You do not have to be a revolutionary to see that some kind of [climate] upheaval has already started and that it can only really be delayed or mitigated than stopped entirely. If the goal of the Biden era is to slow history down, he needs to admit that this new, dangerous era has already begun, and that the old solutions no longer work.”
These recommended reads are all about reviews.
A review of an essay: The problem with rigor. “The rhetoric of rigor turns pedagogy into pathology.”
A review of a tv show: the chair is peak jeans in church culture – I think there is something for absolutely everybody in Brandon Taylor’s review even if you are one of the academic who have yet to watch The Chair. I thought it was insightful about the what TV is and what TV isn’t.
A review of a book: How not to talk to a science denier.
A review (the other kind of review) of Long COVID.
A review of the geographic distribution of GBIF records: “Sampling biases shape our view of the natural world“
and lastly a historical review of the ethnocentric origins of the myth of learning styles, which I had absolutely no idea about and this is something that I wish I knew many years ago. Here’s a link to the journal article but here’s one you can read.
A series of photos of from US public lands from photographer Bob Wick, most of which are jawdroppingly gorgeous. And a lot of them are from California.
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.
Hey there, Beronda Montgomery’s Lessons From Plants is now out! (indiebound | amazon). Her articles and blog posts are often the most-clicked links on here, so I thought you’d want to know about this.
Cultural capital in undergraduate research: an exploration of how biology students operationalize knowledge to access research experiences at a large, public research-intensive institution. In this new research paper, we learn why some students get access to research opportunities and why others don’t. Guess what makes the difference?!
Audubon has hired a union-busting firm. I don’t think people realize this is where their donations are going?
Resisting the call of exceptionalism. So many great pull quotes that could be taken from this essay from the perennially wise Tressie McMillan Cottom, but I’ll share the kicker: “Sometimes clear writing is a sign of clear thinking, and sometimes clear writing is just a sign of brightly drawn battle lines. You gotta know the difference.”
Here’s a well-done popular article about the discovery of horizontal gene transfer from plants to animals. Specifically, from plant to whitefly (which is not a fly, by the way), who use a plant gene to dextoxify some gunk that plants make to dissuade them from eating. Pretty sneaky, eh?) Here’s the original article in Cell. Wait, have I ever linked to a Cell article before? I doubt it.
Happy birthday to Adelaide! She seems absolutely charming.
Has more than a month passed since I’ve done a rec reads post? My gosh. Which in 2020 time, is, like, 27 years? This is a relatively condensed list of things I’ve bookmarked since the last one. And there are no takes on the election. (Though if you do find a 10,000 word insider’s view of exactly how the Four Seasons Total Landscaping thing went down, because oh man, this will be such a hilarious and pathetic story, please let me know? Because I don’t want to miss that.)
The author of the infamous Carreira letter just became the Editor-in-Chief of the flagship journal of the American Chemical Society. (This month, he issued another nonpology. He says he regrets writing it. I sure bet he does!)
A detailed account of how Eunice Foote conceived the role of atmospheric gases in climate warming in 1856, and how she designed and conducted her experiments. It’s pretty cool.
What is the effect of Article Processing Charges on the geographic diversity of authors? Are paywalled journals more accessible to publish in for people in the Global South? This preprint manuscript is about a study takes advantage of a “natural experiment” in publishing space, and if you have thoughts about equity and access in scientific publishing, I bet you’ll find this fascinating. Last author Emilio Bruna explains this paper in a concise twitter thread.
Here’s a big list of ways to convert typical active learning approaches to a physically distanced classroom, asynchronously online, and synchronously online. It looks supremely helpful if you’re thinking, “I want to do more active learning while teaching in the pandemic, but how?”
It looks like immunity to COVID isn’t so ephemeral, which is good.
An extremely helpful guidebook to HyFlex teaching. (Which is when courses are delivered both in person and online at the same time by the same faculty member. And which is what some of us are being expected to do in the Fall!?). This Georgetown site also has other helpful guides to prepping for remote teaching in Fall 2020, too.
When professors hit on students, it harms their academic performance. We know this because a series of experiments have now been published. How can you ethically do an experiment on this? Looks like you gotta read the paper.
Some folks did an experiment with a randomized design to find out whether tweeting about scientific papers improved their citation rates.
A meeting report from the Gordon conference on undergraduate biology education research. A lot of great stuff in there.
“The world has never been fundamentally fair and decent for most people in most places, and yet they manage to build lives full of meaning and suffering and joy.”
I shared this not long ago, but it seems that not everybody is yet aware of or talking about this landmark paper in PNAS. The summary says: “By analyzing data from nearly all US PhD recipients and their dissertations across three decades, this paper finds demographically underrepresented students innovate at higher rates than majority students, but their novel contributions are discounted and less likely to earn them academic positions. The discounting of minorities’ innovations may partly explain their underrepresentation in influential positions of academia.”
Here is a piece of educational research on the relationship between undergraduate research and depression, another product Brownell lab at ASU. The article includes specific recommendations for those doing research with undergraduates to promote inclusive research experiences for students with depression. Sounds like a must-read for all of us with undergrads in our (currently virtual) labs.
When universities start teaching in the Fall, what choices does the pandemic give us? Here’s a full taxonomy of fifteen options. (Including HyFlex, which seems to be popular even though it’s also perhaps the most difficult for faculty to pull off well?) What is your university saying it will do, and what do you think they will actually do when the Fall arrives?
As if you didn’t know this, but: Colleges that are reopening are making a big mistake.
Teacher evaluation form for Spring 2020, from McSweeney’s
Asking little kids to “do science” is substantially more impactful than asking them to “be scientists.” Just in case you wondered whether words matter, and whether subtle differences can have a big impact.
What do final exams mean in a pandemic? [highlighted read]
Meat the man behind the thoughtful Steak-umm twitter account.
Our pandemic summer [highlighted read] This piece by Ed Yong is another supreme piece of journalism. He’s going to get an award for his work in The Atlantic during this pandemic, I hope?
Here is a rather substantial list of sites with online laboratory modules for a great variety of STEM disciplines. If I was teaching a lab this semester, and was compelled to teach online on very short notice, I’d probably be spending hours combing through what’s available. It looks really useful for this moment that we are in. It was assembled by folks on a POD Network listserv*.
It looks like folks who have more than a tangential relationship to the Pruitt affair are now being quite mum, as Dr. Pruitt has done gone lawyered up and sent out a bevvy of nasty letters bearing what I imagine is letterhead from a very scary law firm. I only know about this from this news story that came out in Science yesterday. The kicker in that article, a quote from the EIC of Ecology Letters, pretty much sums up the slowly unfolding situation: “I don’t think it looks promising that a simple, nonfraud, compelling explanation will surface.”
From the pages of Nature: “You can’t fight feelings with facts.”
Joe Travis’s essay for the E.O. Wilson award in Am Nat is a contemporary ode to the enduring significance of natural history that I think will emerge as a classic. There are so many pull quotes I’d could share with you, but, just go ahead and read it.
Conserving honey bees does not help wildlife. Always nice to see something on this topic in the pages of Science.
Jokes I’ve told that my male colleagues didn’t like. (e.g., “My co-worker asked me why I seem so tense. I asked him why he was massaging my shoulders.”)
Chimpanzees have a penchant for throwing rocks at trees, and prefer tree species that make cool sounds.