Friday links: extinction cartoons, March Mammal Madness, and more (UPDATED)

Also featured this week: “quit lit”, “public” universities aren’t so public, fashion advice, and more…

From Meg:

There is a growing body of blog posts in which people document their reasons for leaving academia – Jeremy linked to one of these last week, and there are enough of these emerging that I’ve seen them referred to as a collective “quit lit” genre. Here are two I read recently that I found particularly compelling and powerful. First, this one (by Lenny Teytelman) talks about leaving largely because of concerns over the current funding situation, but also because of the nomadic lifestyle of an academic. I’ve been fortunate to get funding so far, but I certainly worry about my ability to continue to support folks in my lab. And, most definitely, I have found the upheaval of one’s personal life that comes with moving to be very difficult. For me, this has probably been the most difficult aspect of academia. The second post (by Frances Hocutt) deals with issues related to women in science, and, more specifically, with the author’s choice to leave chemistry. One point of the piece is that, in trying to increase the numbers of women (and other underrepresented groups) in the sciences, we need to make sure we don’t guilt those who chose to leave. As she says, “When a pipeline leaks, we don’t blame the water. We fix the pipe and design the next one to leak less. Why do we blame women who leave STEM fields?” It also includes examples of how to be supportive of people who’ve decided to leave science/academia. The comment threads on these posts are also filling up with stories from others who are recounting their own tales.

It’s time for Mammal March Madness! This is run by Katie Hinde, and starts March 10th, so you only have a few days left to fill out your bracket! Lots more info on the page, but here’s a brief overview of how it works: “Battle outcome is a function of the two species’ attributes within the battle environment. Attributes considered in calculating battle outcome include temperament, weaponry, armor, body mass, fight style, and for social mammals division- group size. Some random error has been introduced into calculating battle outcome & the amount of that error is scaled to the disparity in rankings between combatants. Early rounds, the battle occurs in the better-ranked species’ habitat (home court advantage). BUT once we get to the ELITE EIGHT, battle location will be random: rainforest, savannah, ocean & ocean adjacent, or snowy tundra/mountains.” I’m hoping to get my 3-yr-old to fill out a bracket soon!

From Jeremy:

How the last individuals of various now-extinct species met their end, in cartoon form. (ht Denim and Tweed)

The journal Nature is looking for an Ecology and Evolution Editor for 6 months starting in June, to cover a paternity leave. A rare opportunity to see, and shape, the leading edge of the field. I was briefly tempted to apply, it would be a really interesting and valuable experience (and also a real challenge to do well). But the timing is terrible for me. Anyway, just for laughs: what sort of attributes do you think a Nature E&E editor ought to have? Anyone you know who you think would be really good at it? Maybe we can start a “draft Brian” or “draft Meg” movement! 🙂 (ht Sociobology)

Anyone who thinks that metrics–impact metrics, altmetrics, whatever–are a way to reduce subjectivity in decision-making (say, about who to hire or what grants to fund) should read this. (ht

Does the US still have public universities? Or does it effectively have subsidized private universities? Data here. (ht Economist’s View)

Good advice for giving a good talk. One quibble: minimum font size should be equivalent to 24 pt. Arial, not 16 pt.; the latter is way too small for most rooms. My own advice is here. And Zen Faulkes has an ebook of presentation tips. (ht @jennyperry)

A picture gallery of professional wardrobe ideas for female academics. Obviously I’m not really the best person to vouch for these suggestions (FWIW, they seem like reasonable suggestions to me). I’m just passing them on in case anyone’s interested. Advice on this sort of thing is a little tricky, in part because conventions can vary between fields. For instance, when dressing up (say, for a job interview), I think ecologists tend to dress up a bit less than, say, molecular biologists. (ht @jennyperry) (UPDATE: In the comments, Robin Snyder notes that this gallery reflects one person’s sense of style and doesn’t come close to defining the full range of viable options. I agree and should’ve said as much in the post. Robin also asks a couple of good questions: do women who would prefer to dress in a more androgynous way feel pressure to choose “gender normative” styles? And does any such pressure vary among fields or subfields?)

9 thoughts on “Friday links: extinction cartoons, March Mammal Madness, and more (UPDATED)

      • Yeah, I think we can all guess who you’re picking in your bracket. 🙂

        My question is, will there also be a mammalian NIT tournament, for also-ran mammals? Mammals even less threatening than the 16th seeds in this bracket? I guess those would be things like pygmy shrews, domestic hamsters, and laboratory mouse strains engineered with deleterious mutations? 🙂

  1. Ok, having checked the offensive and defensive efficiency ratings on the “mammals” section of, consulted a paleontological colleague who works on fossil mammals, and had a beer, I have some hot March Mammal Madness bracket tips I’m willing to share because that’s the kind of nice guy I am. 🙂

    -The biggest potential upset on the board: manatees over polar bears. I say the manatee just swims around and manages to stay alive long enough for the polar bear to drown.

    -Second biggest upset: rhino wombat over woolly rhino, because I just like the mental image of a rhino-sized wombat. Yes, I know that’s not really what rhino wombats actually looked like. Shut up. As if YOUR bracket is any more logical.

    -Third biggest upset: Magalania over saber-toothed cats. There’s no way an elephant-hunting lizard is losing in round 1.

    -Neanderthals to win the fossil group. Highly underseeded. The selection committee shouldn’t just look at their RPI.

    -Final four: Neanderthals vs. orcas, wild dogs vs. dholes. Neanderthals vs. orcas will totally depend on whether the habitat is aquatic or terrestrial. There are more terrestrial than aquatic possibilities, so statistically you have to pick Neanderthals. Wild dogs vs. dholes is a convergent evolution toss-up.

    -Champ: Neanderthals. Statistically, orcas (or whoever wins the marine group) are highly unlikely to play two straight games in an aquatic habitat, so the winner’s probably going to come from one of the other groups. I like the Neanderthals to defend proto-humanity’s honor and hoist the trophy.

    • Oops. I’m told that Neanderthals don’t get to fight as a group. It’s just one Neanderthal, presumably with a sharpened stick of some sort. Will have to rethink the fossil group…

  2. I checked out the wardrobe page and noted that almost all of the outfits are more feminine than I would be comfortable wearing. I was going to post a comment pointing out that it’s also OK to dress more androgynous or butch if that’s the way you lean. I don’t think the pinterest board is intended to suggest that women need to present as feminine but rather to show one person’s sense of style. But now I’m wondering. Do other women (especially untenured women) feel pressured to dress in gender-normative ways? And what fields are you all in? FWIW my research is heavily mathematical. I think that gives me some leeway to dress a little more masculinely.

  3. Pingback: March Mammal Madness 2015 starts tonight! | Supplementary Materials

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