Recommended reads #179

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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?”

Ten simple rules for successful remote postdoc

How the grad students at the UMass Amherst Geosciences department redesigned their seminar series to enhance DEI

It looks like immunity to COVID isn’t so ephemeral, which is good.

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Recommended reads #173

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Teacher evaluation form for Spring 2020, from McSweeney’s

This is a very handy and straightforward resource to help you create an accessible online course.

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.

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Recommended reads #168

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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.”

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Recommended reads #167

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What if we didn’t grade? A bibliography.

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.

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Recommended reads #163

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It’s been a whole month since the last one of these? How about I prune this down to the gems, how about that?

You want to write for the public, but about what? This is a short and very sweet guide to being an academic in public. It does a great job of explaining how you need to talk outside what you have been trained to think what your lane is.

Rationality vs Reasonableness — how do people consider them to be useful measures of judgement in our daily lives? This is some cool science. (also, did you catch my recent deficit model post?)

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Recommended Reads #161

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Teaching more by grading less, or differently

Here is a sublime profile of biologist Art Shapiro. And apparently, everybody I know who has worked with him says it’s spot on.

A librarian discovers many rare books have had images of beetles cut out of them. It sounds like a disaster, but turns out to be a very cool story.

If you haven’t figured this out, these photos have no correspondence to the content of the posts (usually), they’re just bookshelves, often mine.
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Recommended reads #159

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Hitman 2’s new game lets you quit being an assassin and become an ornithologist: “Here’s how it works: After using your trusty piano wire to kill an ornithologist and swap into his cargo shorts and binoculars, all you have to do is press X to toss aside your silenced pistol, point out the nest of a plum-throated cotinga to your research assistant, and embark on a full-fledged research career in the King’s College Avian Biology Department.”

Color me surprised. A new study claims that in laboratory-oriented fields, mentoring from postdocs is impactful for PhD students, but not for mentoring from the PI. And that PI tend to ignore established best practices for mentoring, and just go from the hip based on their own prior personal experiences. (As a disclaimer, I haven’t actually read this article, by the way, just saying what the abstract and folks have been saying. Since it’s in a fancy journal, be primed to expect big claims that may or may not be appropriately generalized from the actual findings.)

Working from affirmation, not for affirmation. Continue reading

Recommended reads #158

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A very nice paper on efficient teaching, showing how small tweaks can result in big educational gains.

“Dr. Kathryn Milligan-Myhre works in the field of host-microbe interactions. In this mSphere of Influence article, she reflects on the people and scientific ideas that influenced her journey from a small town in Alaska to a faculty position at the University of Alaska Anchorage.”

If you are, like me, someone who studies things that are not humans and you’re interested in studying humans, you absolutely need to talk to people who do that for a living.” Continue reading

Recommended reads #156

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An open letter about sexual harassment and retaliation at UC Irvine.

Among the many layers of horrible events In These United States, the dismantling of the USDA, via translocating the agency to Kansas City (though where in Kansas City, they have no idea), is not getting much attention. Here’s a recent update on this from the Washington Post.

A big meta analysis is showing that, as the ocean warms, fisheries decline. Every degree celsius corresponds to a 5% loss in biomass. Continue reading

Recommended reads #154

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53 essential tech-bro terms explained (It’s like the Devil’s Dictionary)

Computer-based and bench-based research [in course-based research projects] produce similar attitudinal outcomes

In ecology and zoology, the number of women authors on papers with male senior authors is shockingly low. I mean, yeah, you’d expect an effect of gender, but, I mean, wow, this is worse than I would have imagined:

journal.pone.0218598.g002

Figure from Salerno et al. 2019, comparing proportion of women authors in papers with male or female senior authors

Pay the USWNT a bounty Continue reading

Recommended reads #152

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A wave of graduate programs drops the GRE application requirement, with biology programs leading the way.

Can you really do humanities research with undergraduates?

Taiwan considers going double blind for grant review

“If you’ve ever been at a wedding or conference or on board a United connection from O’Hare, and been cornered by a man with Theories About It All, and you came away thinking, ‘That was a great experience,’ have I got the book for you.” So begins what I think is a generally Important Review of the most recent Jared Diamond book. It’s important, for the broader academic community, because it puts stark light on the absence of fact checking of popular academic nonfiction. It’s also an entertaining review to read, unless you’re uncomfortable with scrutiny of the more specious ideas forwarded by Jared Diamond. Continue reading

Recommended reads #151

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If you haven’t read this editorial about “What ‘good’ dads get away with,” please do. It’s about the the “Myth of Equal Partnership.”

The best (and worst) ways to respond to student anxiety

Someone measured the disregard that natural scientists hold for research in the social sciences. You can imagine how this article is being received by the people they studied. Continue reading

Recommended reads #150

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One hundred fifty. I’ve done this 150 times! How ’bout that, eh?

8 ways to teach climate change in almost any classroom

This review of a new book about Joy Division by Henry Rollins is not Everything, but it’s Quite A Lot. (And here’s a blog post about the science of the cover of Unknown Pleasures, which you’ve definitely seen in t-shirt form.)

A survey of female undergraduates in physics found that three quarters of them experience some form of sexual harassment, leaving them alienated from the field. Continue reading

Recommended reads #142: back to work edition

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That was a restful two weeks. Now, back to business.

The Green New Deal, explained

Why do scientists reinvent wheels? (I think in ecology, a lot of concepts have a periodicity of about 30 years. And usually when an idea resurfaces, it’s not done with adequate awareness of the older literature.)

A few reality checks for internal candidates Continue reading