Also this week: mostly bad news. Sorry. Most of the good news is at the end.
Sam Perrin interviews statistical ecologist Joseph Chipperfield and colleagues about the problems with trying to use species distribution models to forecast the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a recent related post from Nick Record and colleagues on the ethics of forecasting COVID-19.
Like many of you, I was horrified to read the news that students in the US on F-1 and M-1 visas may not stay in the US if their school goes online-only and they take a fully online course load. I’m from the US originally but I’ve been in Canada for 16 years, so I’m not well placed to offer advice on what to do about this. Would welcome links in the comments to informed advice about what students, their professors, and their institutions can do to minimize the damage this appalling policy will inflict to both individuals and institutions. Students facing deportation because of this policy should certainly talk to an immigration lawyer if they can. Here’s a thread from Chris Marsicano on concrete steps you can take to try to get the policy changed. And here’s Sara Goodman offering to teach an in-person independent study course to any international student at her institution who faces deportation because of this policy; perhaps others could do the same at their own institutions? Harvard and MIT have sued the ICE to try to stop the new policy. UPDATE: at a hearing before a judge today, the US government agreed to rescind ICE and DHS rules barring international students from staying in the US if they’re taking exclusively online courses. I know nothing more beyond what’s in the linked tweet, sorry. /end update UPDATE #2: This WSJ article notes that DHS is likely to try again with some sort of restrictions on “newly enrolling” international students, so stay tuned. But the Harvard/MIT lawsuit remains open, so if DHS does try again, it sounds like they’d end up back before the same judge. /end update #2
Speaking of teaching in-person US college classes this fall: an argument that colleges are more like bars and cruise ships than like elementary schools.
The New Yorker covers Scott Alexander’s deletion of his long-running, high-profile blog Slate Star Codex. Alexander deleted his blog because a NYT reporter was planning to write a (positive) article about it that would reveal Alexander’s real last name. I previously linked to Alexander’s reasons for taking down his blog, so I wanted to link to this as well. Speaking purely personally, as someone who’s not a member of the self-identified “rationalist” community and who only read Slate Star Codex very occasionally, I found much of the linked story rather off-putting. But YMMV.
A high-profile paper in evolutionary biology (Jiang & Rausher 2018 Nature Plants) has been retracted. Second author Mark Rausher requested the retraction because his lab was trying to do follow-up experiments and could not replicate several of the results reported in the paper. First author Peng Jiang is no longer in Rausher’s lab and could not be contacted either by the journal or by Retraction Watch. Kudos to Mark Rausher for doing the right thing and requesting the retraction once it became clear that the results weren’t reliable.
I’m late to this, but here’s a small bit of good news. In a preprint posted at the end of May, Functional Ecology executive editor Charles Fox reported that BES journals have not seen any shift in the gender balance or geography of submitting authors since COVID-19 disruptions began. I’ll be curious whether that continues to hold true; I hope it does.
Congratulations to ASN award winners Tia-Lynn Ashman, Sharon Strauss, Beatriz Willink, M. Catherine Duryea, and Erik Svensson.
The joint editorial board of Ecology and Ecological Monographs is looking for new editors. They’ve issued an open invitation for expressions of interest; here’s the short online form. Seems like a good way to cast a broad net and help identify a strong, diverse pool of candidates, complementary to other ways of identifying candidates.