The Biology Department of San Francisco State wrote a detailed academic paper about a successful department-wide professional development plan to improve their teaching.
Happy Christmas! I hope you’re having a pleasant break.
This is the 90th post of 2017. It’s been a horrible year for scientists and academics based out of the US, and for democracy in general. But Small Pond Science continues to grow. Here’s a look at the Top 5 posts of 2017. And also 5 more posts that we’re proud of, that didn’t make it into the Top 5.
This three-part story about data storage is amazing and important. I had no idea how much of the data being stored today is still on magnetic tape, nor an idea of the consequences.
When reviewers know the identity of authors, it turns out that famous names, prestigious universities, and top companies are far more likely to have their papers accepted. This effect was measured in an experiment, and it’s astounding. This is the new paper I will point folks to when they say that single blind or “open” review is more fair. It just isn’t.
A profile of the few people remaining in the US who depend on iron lungs to stay alive, a window into the history of manufacturing, medicine, and our failed social safety net.
By Scientists For Science — The Scientific Society Publisher Alliance. Scientific societies are designed to represent the interests of our own communities, and this new organization is designed to promote society journals.
9 myths holding you back from stellar slides. Not as clickbaity as it sounds.
This is the best explainer ever about social class in universities. Please read and share, especially with the graduate admissions committee.
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.
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.
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.
Stop the presses!!! Here is a shocking new finding: A new meta-analysis shows that student evaluations of teacher performance are unrelated to student learning.
David Attenborough regrets spending so much time away from his family. (I should note that I’m writing this from a field station in Costa Rica, missing out on the duties and joys of parenting. It’s my shortest summer research trip down here ever, for this reason.)
It’s been two weeks already!? Here’s some reads for what remains of the long holiday weekend, for those of us in the US.
Getting past Bloom’s taxonomy in a way that focuses on the minds of the students
This online comic as struck a big chord with a a lot of women I know. It explains how many men don’t share the burden of parenting and running a household by simply thinking that doing stuff when asked is enough. The cognitive load of keeping track of domestic affairs is not a trivial matter.
Superstar artist Ai Weiwei wrote a piece about how censorship works for the New York Times — gosh knows he’s had plenty of opportunity to gain expertise. It’s revelatory, and relevant for those of in the US more than ever.
The founders of the field of cryptanalysis, William and Elizabeth Friedman, had a cipher on their tombstone. Which was just solved.
When you study arctic glaciers that are rapidly melting away, and your samples at the Ice Core Archive melt away because of a freezer malfunction at your university.
File this under, “No shit, sherlock”: A study finds that women do more departmental service than men, and that this harms career progression.
One hundred baby! Woo hoo!
Why is it when we talk about science outreach and science education/communication, it’s always focused on kids? The adults are also where it’s at.
This short piece about how and why scientists use social media fits just perfectly in with my perspectives and experiences.
Rethinking my exams: “Why do we even do exams in college, anyway?”
Five practical ways you can help a first generation student succeed. If you’ve ever thought positively about anything I’ve written or shared on this topic, I bet you’ll really appreciate this piece by Abigail Dan. I bow to its wisdom and excellence.
Obsessed with smartness, by James Lang. I love this almost as much as the preceding piece.
Why facts don’t change our minds, by the inestimable Elizabeth Kolbert.
Alan Townsend wrote an op-ed that I think you really need to read: Science might save my daughter. Don’t kill it. (And in his blog, which I absolutely love and have linked to on previous occasions, he explains why he wrote the piece.)
Science censorship is a global issue – a short letter to Nature written by three Aussie ecologists.
Unlearning descriptive statistics. I thought this was really interesting.
I feel a bit guilty that I came upon some cool reads, in the precise moment that my country stopped being a proper democracy. This list is more decline-of-democracy-related than usual. But still even if you’ve had enough of this, there’s enough in here about other things I hope it’s worth your time. In part, because there’s a link in here about how to keep on keepin’ on while still doing your best to resist the the new authoritarian government that has taken over the US.
But I do have things to share, some of which aren’t even about our brave new world.
Just in case you didn’t know, academia.edu is a for-profit venture that exists primarily to gather our information and sell it. Ungood. I’ve stayed away from it for this reason – this article explains how they ended up with a .edu even though they’re not a .edu.
America’s great working class colleges. This is such a great piece of journalism (admittedly I think this in part because it says things I try to say here often and get it better than I could). Here’s the interactive feature that accompanies the article, which I really suggest you play around with – if anything to get an idea about how the institutions that you are personally familiar with compare to others in ways that you might not have seen visualized before. It was an education for me, surely.
This is a good visualization of gerrymandering. Which (I don’t argue here) is specifically how we got into this hideous mess.
A friend asked the other day about recommendations for good popular books about ecology. Initially, I kind of drew a blank. Which surprised me.
In the United States, a woman died a few months ago of a bacterial infection. This microbe was resistant to all antibiotics available in the US that we were capable of throwing at it.
A paper came out this week, looking at predictors of publication rates among 280 graduate students accepted and enrolled into a biomedical grad program. And — shocker, I know — grades and standardized test scores didn’t matter. The best predictor was the content of the letters of recommendation. You want to know which undergraduates have the greatest research potential? Listen to their undergraduate mentors. Here’s a drugmonkey post about this paper.
An argument for the funding of basic research makes it into the Wall Street Journal.
One way to teach critical thinking is to take a historical issue (in history, science, whatever) and look at the debates surrounding the issue by the people of the time, and then asking, “Who was right?” (I found this via Tavish Bell’s twitter account, where I see consistently interesting stuff about higher ed.)