A day early because of the US holiday tomorrow. Also this week: Charley Krebs vs. the biodiversity-ecosystem function “consensus”, the gender distribution of major NSERC prizes, #Evol2014 word cloud, scientific journal blogs, how to do good science in one handy blog post, and more. Much more! Between Meg and I, we read the entire internet this week, so strap in.
p.s. There’s a previously-scheduled real post going up in a couple of hours, it’s the latest in our series on non-academic careers for ecologists. So don’t be a stranger. 🙂
Alex Bond has a post on underrepresentation of women in receiving NSERC awards. Specifically, “women have been awarded only 17% of major NSERC awards since 2004.” No women received one of the major NSERC awards in 2013. From talking with lots of people who help administer these sorts of awards, it’s clear that a lack of women nominees is a major barrier. So, when you see a call for nominations, take a minute to think of whether women (or someone from another underrepresented group) would make a good nominee; if yes, submit a nomination! (Jeremy adds: Meg stole my link, so I’ll just add that NSERC’s response to Alex’s post is here).
I appreciated this post from DrugMonkey, which is a reminder that not all faculty are old white men. I also have received many comments in my years as a faculty member assuming I was an undergrad, and have had lots of people say I should take these comments as a compliment. It’s not such a compliment when you realize it happens to women much more than men. (This relates to something else that has come up before, where people refer to me as Mrs. Duffy but my male colleague as Dr. X.)
Perhaps, for some of the more egregious examples of incorrect assumptions related to age and/or gender, we can use some of Hope Jahren’s recommendations of “things you can do when people say stupid sexist shit to you.” I particularly liked this part:
For example, my son plays third base and if he makes a crap throw the first baseman can’t be blamed for not catching it. I’ve decided that human communication is also like this. If some bozo wings a wild crap verbal throw toward me, I don’t expect myself to catch it. I generally watch it go by like “That was a wild crap verbal throw. Your error.” They can say it, but I don’t have to take it in.
I really enjoyed this Vitae piece by Fatimah Williams Castro on building a better nonacademic career panel. It includes a lot of advice for grad students who attend these panels, and gave me lots to think about in terms of organizing this sort of panel for our grad students.
Jeremy Yoder had a post on tweets during this summer’s Evolution meeting. He did a search for the #Evol2014 hashtag and downloaded the results, yielding a file with nearly 9,000 tweets! He has figures showing the tweets broken down by time, and a word cloud based on the tweets. Some of the major words were not surprising (“evolution”, “species”, “talk”), but others were surprising to me (especially “amp”). I also like that it says “many data, just genome” on the lower left part of the word cloud, which makes me think of the doge meme.
NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology is looking for a new Division Director to replace Penny Firth, who is retiring.
For the aquatic folks: these beautiful wood tables have glass rivers embedded in them. Gorgeous! (ht: Rachel Tell)
This is old but I missed it at the time: Charley Krebs comments on the current consensus in biodiversity-ecosystem function research (as expressed by Cardinale et al. 2012 Nature, though I think Krebs’ comments are really directed at this line of research as a whole rather than at Cardinale et al. 2012 specifically). Krebs is seriously unimpressed. One telling quote, to give you the flavor:
First of all every biologist would like to think that biodiversity is important. But we should consider what the equivalent statement might be for chemistry – chemicals are important. Surely this is both true and of little use, since we can never define scientifically the word ‘important’.
Definitely click through and read the whole thing. I don’t know that I agree 100% with it. Krebs criticizes Cardinale et al.’s one-sentence summaries for their vagueness, but one-sentence summaries are inevitably vague. Krebs definitely has some good points, though. And Krebs isn’t the only prominent ecologist with concerns along these lines. Good on him for speaking his mind rather than staying mum for the sake of presenting a united front.
The academic genealogy of theoretical ecology. It’s a crowd-sourced work in progress, click through to add yourself and any theoretical ecologists you know. Apparently there are similar trees for other fields.
I’m a bit late to this, but here are the finalists from the 2014 NESCent Evolution video contest.
Tips for doing good science. From a systems biologist, but #1-7 are all very generally applicable.
Journal of Animal Ecology used to publish a lot more insect papers than it does these days. These days, it’s much more about birds and mammals. Interestingly, the taxonomic focus of Ecology papers seems to have been pretty steady over time. These data are consistent with the rumor I heard back when I was a postdoc, that JAE got so many bird-related submissions that they had to work hard to avoid turning into an ornithology journal. Click through for discussion of potential explanations. Note that I agree with the editor that while these trends are intriguing, they’re not a problem and not something that needs fixing. (ht Chris Buddle)
Speaking of JAE, as the above link indicates, they now have a blog. I’ll be curious to see what they do with it. My own purely personal view is that journal blogs that just provide paper summaries (whether from the authors or the editors, and whether in written form or as podcasts) don’t add a great deal of value to the journal’s content. That’s why I rarely wrote paper summaries when I was blogging for the Oikos blog (and when I did, hardly anyone read them). And I think there are other things journal blogs can do in addition to summarizing the journal’s papers, that would add more value while also complementing and promoting the journal’s content. The above post is one example.
Here’s another example: The Methods in Ecology and Evolution blog discusses variation across journals in the proportion of papers with female first authors.
A hypothesis that the benefits and costs of female-oriented networking events at scientific conferences vary with the proportion of women in the field. Discuss.
Tips from a speaking coach on preparing a scientific talk.
Why haven’t you heard anything from the search committee for that job you applied for? Well, it’s probably for a good reason (as opposed to rudeness). (ht Small Pond Science)
A video of professors reading negative reviews of their teaching. I got a chuckle out of this, in part because my teaching this year got many more negative reviews than I’ve gotten before. I take negative reviews seriously, but like most things that one should take seriously, they can taken too seriously, so it’s good to be reminded that I’m far from alone. (ht Elisabeth Borer, via Twitter)
Somebody has gotten a paper out of sequencing DNA from 30 samples of “Bigfoot” hair from around the world. Turns out “Bigfoot” is a black bear. Or (depending on the sample in question) a wolf. Or a coyote. Or a serow. Or a porcupine. Or a raccoon. Or a cow… Which leaves one wondering if there are any mammals whose hairs haven’t been claimed as “Bigfoot”. Naked mole rats, maybe? (UPDATE: In case it wasn’t clear, the researchers in question didn’t think they were going to find “Bigfoot”! They did the work and wrote the paper to debunk others’ claims to have found “Bigfoot” hairs).
Hoisted from the comments: