Also this week: Netflix vs. academia, transparency in US college admissions, football vs. math, statistics vs. the Bolivian election, and more.
Sad news: pioneering NASA engineer and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Katherine Johnson passed away earlier this week. She was 101. Among other achievements, she calculated trajectories for Alan Shepard’s first space flight, John Glenn’s first orbital space flight, and the Apollo moon program. She was the first woman ever at NASA to co-author a research paper. It’s hard to overstate what she had to overcome to accomplish so much: she graduated from high school at 14 and from university at 18 at a time when most black children in the US stopped formal education by the 8th grade. She later became the first African American woman graduate student at West Virginia. Johnson’s work became much more well-known late in her life, thank to the 2016 movie Hidden Figures. It’s through that movie that I first learned of her work. Here is her NASA biography page. Here are obituaries from the New York Times and the Atlantic.
<brief interruption from Meghan….
I love this tribute!:
…now turning things back over to Jeremy!>
Well, here’s an important case I’ll have to add to my list of statistical vignettes for teaching introductory statistical concepts. The Organization of American States concluded that there was widespread, serious fraud in the Bolivian election, and one key line of evidence was statistical. A new analysis of those data finds no evidence of fraud. I had missed it earlier, but similar arguments against the OAS conclusions were first made back in December.
Statistician Ray Bai just landed a tenure-track job. Here’s his very detailed post on how he did it. Much of what he says generalizes. Or at least I think it does, FWIW. For further context, see my compilation of data about the tenure-track faculty job market in ecology.
I’m very late to this, but anyway: turns out that a much-publicized, cheap intervention encouraging high-achieving low-income students to apply to more selective colleges doesn’t replicate. It worked in the original study, but had no effect in a large replication. There’s no suggestion of misconduct or mistakes in the original study.
Steven Strogatz interviews famed football lineman turned mathematician John Urschel for his podcast.
A few tips for going into a career in US federal policy, from marine biologist and former Hill staffer Miriam Goldstein.
University of Wisconsin philosophy professor Harry Brighouse with some thoughts on transparency in US undergraduate admissions. Gently thought-provoking.
A review of Brandon Taylor’s new novel Real Life, about a queer black biochemistry graduate student at a mostly-white Midwestern university. I haven’t read the book, but am passing the link along because it sounds like it would be of interest to many of you. Here’s the Goodreads page for the book. Here’s an interview with the author, who once trained in science.
Stream academe: Netflix is making a tv show starring Sandra Oh as the chair of a university English department.
And finally: not being on Twitter has pluses and minuses. One of the pluses is that it eliminates any risk that you’ll mistake a tweeted joke college essay that wasn’t even intended to fool anyone for a real essay, and get publicly outraged about it.
This whole #PeepYourScience thread is great…
…but I think might favorite might be the Punnett Peeps!: