Friday links: Jeremy interviews Rich Lenski, pimp my snail, and more

Also this week: teaching resources for theoretical ecology, trolling the entire Evolution meeting (and the entire ESA meeting), data on sexual assault on campus, the science funding gene, reference letter advice, optimizing field pants, and more.

From Meg:

The ESA Theoretical Ecology Section has started a wiki of teaching resources relevant to theoretical ecology. (ht: Marissa Baskett) The Disease Ecology section also has a similar resource.

The University of Michigan conducted a survey of its students regarding sexual assaults. The results are sobering, and are summarized here. 22.5% of undergraduate women report nonconsensual touching, kissing, or sexual penetration in the past year. 9.7 percent of all women reported nonconsensual sexual penetration. The numbers are appalling, but I think it’s great that Michigan is bringing the issue into the light, and hope more universities do the same.

From Jeremy:

This week PLoS Biology published my interview with Rich Lenski about his Long-Term Evolution Experiment. The EiC there saw my post with questions for Rich, and Rich’s answers, and invited us to publish them. So Rich and I edited our posts to read like an interview; I like how it turned out. Hopefully publishing in Plos Biology will bring it to a new audience that wouldn’t otherwise have seen it. Which would be great, because Rich has a ton of super-interesting things to say. The LTEE is a great case study of how to do science, which anyone can learn from.

Charles Goodnight asks:

This is the week before the Evolution meetings, so the big question of the day is what can I post that I believe to be true, and will rile enough people up to get a good discussion going.

His answer: arguing that there is no genic selection (except in the special case of transposable elements). I like the idea of posting something controversial right before a big conference. May have to give that a go for ESA! With any luck, I’ll make a lot of students nervous that I’m going to ask them tough questions after their talks.* πŸ™‚

Charles Goodnight is trying to start an argument, but Trevor Branch is trying to continue one. Several, actually. Here’s his list of key readings on eight high-profile controversies in fisheries research. Good fodder for a lab meeting discussion or seminar course.

Further to our post earlier this week on how to write a reference letter, here are HHMI’s excellent tips on how to do it. I particularly like the tip on checking for subtle gender bias: switch all the pronouns in your letter to the opposite gender and see if it still reads well. If it sounds odd, you need to rephrase. Worth doing this for letters for both men and women. (ht Jessica Theodor, via the comments)

When does switching from a between-subjects design to a within-subjects design improve statistical power? When does it reduce (yes, reduce) your power? Here’s an example from psychology, but the point is broader. Good example for intro stats courses.

Wait, a random sample of 40 recent papers from each of three cancer journals reveals that 25% of papers have duplicated images, the frequency of which doesn’t vary with journal IF? And over half of those duplications involve the same image being used to represent different experimental conditions? Jeebus, that’s a high frequency of some combination of very sloppy errors and fraud. (ht Retraction Watch)

A history of, and ode to, field guides. (ht Not Exactly Rocket Science)

A hypothesis about the ultimate field pants. πŸ™‚ Not being a field ecologist myself, I assume they look something like this. That’s the sort of thing I used to wear when I had to go into the field. And when I had to go up to bat, of course. πŸ™‚

Using the full power of genomics to find the science funding gene. πŸ™‚ (ht Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Frogs unveil 5 million year plan to move up the food chain. πŸ™‚ (ht Not Exactly Rocket Science)

And finally, pimp my ride snail. What would E. B. Ford have made of this? πŸ™‚

*Just kidding, students.** πŸ˜‰


***You now have all the incentive you need to read this old post before you go to the ESA meeting. Dynamic Ecology: causing, and resolving, student anxiety since 2012. πŸ™‚

7 thoughts on “Friday links: Jeremy interviews Rich Lenski, pimp my snail, and more

  1. ESA SciComm Section resources:
    You mentioned resources provided online by a couple of ESA’s sections, so I want to share the resources fellow co-founders and I have curated as one of our first projects. Here’s a link to our listing of general and media-specific (think photography, blogging, etc.) resources (, plus the multi-media SciComm resource guide we distributed during the 2014 workshop (

    New ESA SciComm Section & 2015 workshop:
    The section received approval this spring, and our overarching objective is to move discussion beyond “why” do SciComm to advancing “how” ecologists can do so (skill-building, resource sharing, recognition of good SciComm within ESA members, etc.). Here’s more info about the section ( and our 2015 workshop – Communicating Science Vividly – which has a “visuals/storytelling about your science” theme (

  2. Fixing the duplicate image issue:
    On the subject of duplicate images, I’ve curated a list of drawing/sketching resources which is posted on the ESA SciComm Section’s website (

    In particular, there are lots of resources for building your drawing skills, using other people’s images ethically, and even tips on how to get the most out of working with an illustrator.

    Build your image-making skills at ESA 2015:
    Of course, you could get a jump on all that by participating in the ESA SciComm Section’s workshop at this year’s conference! Here’s a link to all the details for our “Communicating Science Vividly” workshop:

    • Re: the duplicate image issue, thanks for the links, but I think you’ve misunderstood the issue. The images in question are–or are supposed to be–unaltered photos of Western blot gels, or cells expressing green fluorescent protein, or etc. The duplications in question involve copying all or part of an image from one figure (either a figure in the same paper, or in a previous paper of your own), and using it as an image in another figure–often another figure that purportedly shows images from a different treatment or a different experiment. The issue here isn’t science communication or visualization skills, or even using other people’s images ethically (authors are duplicating their own images). The issue is misreporting and/or falsification of results. So while the links you’ve provided are useful, they’re not useful for fixing the duplicate image issue.

      • Ugh- when I read about this earlier in the week, I was really very disappointed. I went “blotto” for over a decade, having done 1500 or so Westerns during that time. Why in the heck people continue to play hokus pokus & hanky panky with Westerns simply dumbfounds me. It’s been over 20 years since investigators started getting caught at this kind of unethical behavior. To do this in the electronic age simply communicates complete recklessness, because anyone with an ounce of common sense has to know they will be found out.

      • Ok, got it; totally different issue, and a new one for me in terms of thinking about how images are used to communicate science/science results. Really interesting.

        Feel free to delete my initial comment so it doesn’t further distract from the point.

  3. My chair (a malacologist) has a picture of a snail with the shell modified to look like the Michigan football helmet hanging on his door. Clearly they need to do this with an actual snail…

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