Friday links: Remembering Michael Soulé, and more (UPDATE: link fixed)

Also this week: virtual working groups, ukulele music (yes really), and more.

From Jeremy:

Science has a lovely piece by David Inouye and Paul Ehrlich remembering Michael Soulé. (UPDATE: link fixed now) One of the founders of conservation biology, Soulé passed away June 17. He was 84. Among his many achievements and honors, he co-authored the first conservation biology textbook, co-conceived the idea of “rewilding”, and was a AAAS fellow.

A review of a new biography of JBS Haldane.

The Canadian Institute for Ecology and Evolution (the “Canadian NCEAS”) has issued a call for virtual working group proposals. Proposals are due Oct. 15. Funding can be used to hire a grad student or postdoc to support the working group full time for a fixed period (say, to do data compilation for a month), to hire a professional meeting facilitator, to improve accessibility (e.g., by hiring a professional captioner), or other expenses. The link includes a handy guide with detailed suggestions for how to run an effective virtual (or in-person) working group, and I’m not saying that just because the guide cites some of our old blog posts. 🙂

I’m a bit late to this, but here’s Fernandes et al. 2020 eLife, reporting extensive survey data on over 300 faculty job seekers in biology (mostly in biomedical-adjacent fields). Interesting to compare and contrast their data with the data I compiled for faculty job seekers and new faculty hires in ecology.

Here’s a Nature news piece on NSF’s plan to focus graduate student fellowship funding on specific areas of applied computer science. The plan has drawn loud objections on two fronts. The first, with which I agree, is that NSF should continue to direct substantial graduate fellowship support towards all areas of basic research that fall within its remit. I do think it’s fine for NSF to reallocate funding among fields or subfields. But there should be some bounds to that because we need all these fields, and it’s super-risky to put all your funding eggs in just a few baskets. I have mixed feelings about the second objection: that the areas of computer science chosen by NSF are very white and male, and so reallocating GRF funding works against diversification of the scientific workforce. On the one hand, I’m aware of studies from biomedicine and economics (one of which is cited in the linked news piece) showing that the most “prestigious”/”important”/”hard” subfields and research topics tend to be the most white male dominated. One can absolutely make a case that there are sexist and racist factors that affect which topics and subfields get considered the most “prestigious”/”important”/”hard”, and so get allocated the most funding. On the other hand, if you take that line of thought too far, I worry that you end up giving up on diversifying fields or subfields. The composition of fields and subfields can change, as demonstrated by the fact that it has changed in the past. We should work to promote the changes we want to see, in all fields and subfields. I admit that my point of view on this has some selfish motivations. Ecology is one of the whitest subfields around. I think the response to that should be to support things like the SEEDS program, the ideas in this post by the @EEB_POC team, and the ideas in this article. I’d hate to see funding for ecology opposed on the grounds that it reduces diversity of the scientific workforce. See our old guest posts here and here for some further discussion of these issues in the context of diversity targets. Be sure to read the comment threads, there are some very good comments.

And finally, you look like you could use something to make you smile, so here you go:

6 thoughts on “Friday links: Remembering Michael Soulé, and more (UPDATE: link fixed)

  1. CIEE funding has a special stream this round, “The goal of this special stream is to improve the equity, diversity and inclusiveness (EDI) of Canada’s ecology and evolution research community” (info here: One way to avoid hyper-white fields like ecology losing funding in the long-run is to put more action and emphasis on understanding and working to fix our diversity problem. If, while working on this, some funding goes to other fields that are attracting and training a more diverse set of future scientists I personally feel pretty okay with that.

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