In contrast to some other fields, TT faculty hiring in ecology doesn’t have much to do with where you got your PhD. Here’s the data.

The faculty job market is going to be really bad this year due to the fallout from Covid-19. My heart goes out to anyone on the market this year. But still, there are some jobs out there, and so I’m sure folks on the ecology faculty job market would like good information about the market. I spent three years compiling a lot of data on the US and Canadian ecology faculty job market, summarized and linked to here. But few folks seem to click those links. So over the next few days I’m going to re-post some of the links that remain relevant and useful.

Today: as an ecology faculty job seeker in the US or Canada, should you worry that your fate has already been sealed by where you got your PhD? That is, should you worry that it’s only graduates of “top” departments who get tenure-track jobs? Or that “top” departments only hire graduates of other “top” departments? There are fields in which you should worry about those things. And according to my unscientific poll data, many ecologists do worry about those things. But they shouldn’t worry, because ecology is NOT one of those fields. As the data in that last link show, faculty hiring in ecology in the US and Canada has very little to do with where you got your PhD. Search committees in ecology have lots of information with which to evaluate applicants. They don’t rely on crude proxies like “did you get your PhD from a ‘prestigious’ university?” And the place where you got your PhD isn’t correlated with any of the (many!) variables that faculty hiring committees in ecology do look at when evaluating applicants.

(aside: same goes for bachelor’s degrees. For instance, I hope nobody thinks that most future ecology profs got bachelor’s degrees from “elite” liberal arts colleges or the Ivy League. Or that liberal arts colleges mostly only hire profs with bachelor’s degrees from liberal arts colleges. Because those things aren’t true, at all. Fortunately, our past poll data suggests that few people believe those things.)

The broader lesson here is that different fields–and even subfields–are different! When it comes to anything related to faculty hiring, you should be very hesitant to generalize from data about all of academia, or about a field different than you own, to your own field.

If you’re on the ecology faculty job market this year, I hope you found this post useful. Good luck, I hope everything works out for you.

How much do TT ecology faculty job seekers customize each application? And how much customization do search committee members want to see? Here are the data.

The faculty job market is going to be really bad this year due to the fallout from Covid-19. My heart goes out to anyone on the market this year. But still, there are some jobs out there, and so I’m sure folks on the ecology faculty job market would like good information about the market. I spent three years compiling a lot of data on the US and Canadian ecology faculty job market, summarized and linked to here. But few folks seem to click those links. So over the next few days I’m going to re-post some of the links that remain relevant and useful.

Today, data from polls of tenure-track ecology faculty job seekers, and from people who’ve recently sat on search committees for tenure-track ecology faculty positions, on customization of individual applications. How do job seekers customize each application to the hiring institution, in what ways, and how long does it take them to do so? In what ways do search committee members want to see applications customized? And how do the answers vary between more and less research-intensive institutions? Click through for the answers.

If you’re on the ecology faculty job market, I hope you found this information useful. Best of luck in your search.

How productive a researcher do you have to be to be competitive for a TT ecology faculty position in the US or Canada? Here are the data.

The faculty job market is going to be really bad this year due to the fallout from Covid-19. My heart goes out to anyone on the job market this year. But still, there are some jobs out there, and so I’m sure folks on the ecology faculty job market would like good information about the market. I spent three years compiling a lot of data on the US and Canadian ecology faculty job market, summarized and linked to here. But few folks seem to click those links. So over the next few days I’m going to re-post some of the links that remain relevant and useful.

Today, data on how productive a researcher do you have to be to be competitive for a tenure-track faculty position at a big US or Canadian research university? What about for a less research-intensive position? Here are the answers, for various crude quantitative measures of research productivity: number of first authored papers (in all journals, and in leading journals), number of Nature/Science/PNAS papers, and Google Scholar h-index. The tl;dr version is that, according to these admittedly very crude measures, you don’t have to be nearly as productive as most people think to be competitive for a TT ecology faculty position at a research university. Research productivity varies hugely among recent TT hires, even among new hires into the same department.

If you’re on the ecology faculty job market, I hope you found this post useful context. Good luck, I hope things work out for you.

Very few TT ecology faculty positions in the US and Canada are filled by “insiders” (however defined), and as an applicant you can’t tell which ones will be

The faculty job market is going to be really bad this year due to the fallout from Covid-19. My heart goes out to anyone on the market this year. But still, there are some jobs out there, and so I’m sure folks on the ecology faculty job market would like good information about the market. I spent three years compiling a lot of data on the US and Canadian ecology faculty job market, summarized and linked to here. But few folks seem to click those links. So over the next few days I’m going to re-post some of the links that remain relevant and useful.

Today: as a faculty job seeker in ecology in the US or Canada, should you worry that the position for which you’re applying will be filled by an “insider”? Perhaps someone who currently works in the hiring department, or who used to work there, or who got a degree there, or who has collaborators there? I actually have no idea how many job seekers worry about this. But in case you are worried about this, I’d say try not to be, for three reasons. First, only a tiny fraction of all TT ecology faculty positions in the US and Canada are filled by inside candidates, no matter how broadly you define “insiders”. Second, you can’t predict the rare positions that will be filled by “insiders”. Third, the rare positions that do end up being filled by “insiders” mostly are normal searches. Not searches-in-name-only, where the position actually is intended for a specific “inside” candidate from the get-go. So I think your best bet as an applicant is to just go ahead and apply for any jobs you think you might want. Don’t futilely try to guess whether any of those jobs are among the extremely rare ones that are predestined to go to “insiders”.

If you are on the ecology faculty job market, I hope you found this post useful. Best of luck in your search.

What teaching experience do newly-hired TT ecology profs tend to have? Here’s the answer.

The faculty job market is going to be really bad this year due to the fallout from Covid-19. But still, there are some jobs out there, and so I’m sure folks on the ecology faculty job market would like good information on what the market is like. I spent three years compiling a lot of data on the US and Canadian ecology faculty job market, summarized and linked to here. But few folks seem to click those links. So over the next few days I’m going to re-post some of the links that that remain relevant and useful.

Today: a statistical summary of the teaching experience of recently hired tenure-track ecology profs in the US and Canada, as of the time they were hired. It’s broken down by hires into the most research-intensive positions, and the most teaching-intensive positions.

*Some of the data, such as that concerning number of applicants per position, may not reflect this year’s job market, in which there are many fewer jobs relative to the number of job seekers.

In which I shamelessly use the upcoming US election to trick you into reading about the Price equation

The Price equation originally was proposed by George Price in 1970, in a Nature paper so original it cited nothing. The Price equation is the mathematical expression of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. It partitions directional evolutionary change in the mean value of some phenotypic trait into components attributable to evolution by natural selection, and to transmission bias. The equation subsequently was extended and generalized by others, including Price himself, and reinterpreted to apply to many other problems both within and outside evolutionary biology.

The math is actually simple–it’s just basic algebra–but it’s applied in an unusual way and so is infamously hard to understand. I think the Price equation is hard for many people to wrap their heads around because it’s not the sort of math most scientists are used to thinking about. It’s not a mathematical model, comprised of assumptions about how nature works plus the consequences (predictions) that follow from those assumptions. Rather, it’s a partition: a useful way of carving up a whole into parts. Why would we want to do that?

I’ve long been looking for a really good answer to that question. By which I mean: an application of the Price equation that everyone will immediately understand and appreciate. That will immediately make everyone go “Oh, I get it now! Hey, that is useful!” I think I’ve found it: partitioning the difference between the outcomes of two consecutive elections. Such as, say, the 2012 vs. 2016 US Presidential elections. How much of the difference in outcome was due to differences in which voters turned out to vote, and how much was due to voters changing which political party they voted for?

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Pumpkin mascarpone pie!

This is awesome. So much better than regular pumpkin pie. It’s like a hybrid of pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake, with hybrid vigor. I omit the spices and just make it with canned pumpkin pie filling rather than plain pumpkin. And I make it with a graham cracker crust and omit the whipped cream. But you be you.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, see you on Tuesday.