Also this week: zombie ideas, ideas about zombies, airport ecology, life as a black graduate student, the “Silwood Circle”, and more. Oh, and Robert Boyle called; he wants his debate about reproducibility back.
This is a powerful piece on what life is like for a black graduate student in what is generally perceived as a liberal, progressive college town.
A methods section isn’t about reproducibility, but, rather, establishing the credibility of your approach. (by Stephen Heard) (Jeremy adds: apparently great minds link alike; see below)
Airports are increasingly keeping beehives, taking advantage of green lands on which they cannot build. Chicago’s O’Hare airport has the largest airport apiary in the world. (They also maintain goats and sheep to eat grass, taking advantage of food web manipulations to reduce plane-bird strikes.)
I really enjoyed this piece, Exhaustion is not a status symbol, which focuses on our culture of overwork. One quote:
we have to encourage people to set boundaries around their work and respect them when they hold them. And I think as leaders we have to model that. One thing that I tell people all the time is, I’m not going to answer a call from you after nine o’clock at night or before nine o’clock in the morning unless it’s an emergency.
Another quote is, “We can’t turn off our machines because we’re afraid we’re going to miss something.” That has definitely been true of me at times. And another is “It’s like those moving walkways at the airport — you’ve got to really pay attention when you get off them, because it’s disorienting.” This is a great way of describing how I felt when I wrote this post at the end of last semester!
Missed this at the time: here’s Peder Anker’s thoughtful review of The Silwood Circle, a history of the influential group of ecologists associated with Silwood Park. My own review is here. His review is positive overall, though a bit more critical than mine. Some of his criticisms are well-taken, one or two seem off base to me. Anyway, a good brief read for anyone interested in the recent history of ecology.
One leak in the leaky pipeline seems to have closed: women and men who got a STEM bachelor’s in the 1990s are equally likely to have later gotten a PhD in the same field. That wasn’t true for late 1970s and 1980s cohorts of bachelor’s recipients. The gap is gone in all STEM fields. However, the gap closed not because a higher percentage of women are going from bachelor’s to PhD, but because a lower percentage of men are. I leave it to you to interpret that. (ht Retraction Watch)
Stephen Heard with a great post putting current concerns about “reproducibility” into historical perspective–400 years of historical perspective.
A handy checklist any data analysis should follow (scroll to the end of the post).
Various people have modeled the dynamics of a zombie apocalypse over the years. My Calgary colleague Kyla Flanagan has done it as a teaching tool for population ecology. The latest version is more elaborate than most, as it uses the Gillespie algorithm and data from the 2010 US census to simulate a stochastic spatial SIR model of a zombie outbreak over the continental US. You can play with the simulation parameters and initial conditions and watch the outbreak spread across the country here. (ht vox.com)
114 year old Sweet Briar College, a small women’s liberal arts college in rural Virginia, is closing at the end of the semester. Wow.
Hyperlinks have a pretty short half life; the web changes fast. I’m not too worried about this for, say, links from this blog. But for stuff that’s supposed to be more permanent, like peer-reviewed papers, referring to online material is problematic because your reference probably will cease to exist in a few years. Data Colada suggests an easy solution for anyone who wants to cite online material in a peer-reviewed paper.
Free riding, Ivy League edition. (ht Marginal Revolution)
Zombie ideas in pedagogy: Don’t bother trying to teach to the learning style of your students, or trying to teach in a way that accommodates diverse learning styles. Students have learning preferences, but teaching to those preferences does not enhance learning.
Interesting chapter on modelling as a method of inquiry. It’s about how economics went from a verbal to a mathematical field, but it’s totally accessible to ecologists. Interesting to think about how ecology is following a similar path. (ht Brad DeLong)
“Slurpee waves“. Click through for cool pictures of a cool phenomenon. (ht Not Exactly Rocket Science)