Meg just talked about the importance of saying yes. I wanted to build on that a bit.
I’m so lucky Meg and Brian said yes when I invited them to join Dynamic Ecology. Not just lucky in the sense of “it worked out great and I’m really thrilled about that,” but lucky in the sense of “it was a real longshot that I should not have expected to work”. I didn’t know Brian or Meg when I invited them, though I knew and admired their scientific work. I invited Meg at the suggestion of a mutual friend, on the grounds that because she was active on Twitter she’d probably want to blog as well. And I invited Brian because he wrote some great comments on the Oikos Blog, so I thought he might want to blog instead of just commenting. Looking back, I probably should’ve thought of these invitations as equivalent to lottery ticket purchases. The odds that a randomly-chosen...Read the full article.
In July 2012, I received an email that has had a profound effect on my career and life. The email came from Jeremy. He had begun blogging as part of the editorial board of the journal Oikos, but had resigned from their editorial board, so it no longer made sense to blog there. Instead, he had the idea to start a blog written by a small group of ecologists. The blog was to be named Dynamic Ecology, and he wanted to know if I would be interested in writing for it.
I didn’t sleep that night. There were plenty of reasons to say no. I was preparing to move from my job at Georgia Tech to a new faculty position at Michigan, and would, for that year, have labs running in two places. I would be teaching Introductory Biology in my first semester at Michigan, to hundreds of students. I had a toddler and was pregnant with my second child. My first graduate student was working to write up her dissertation. We were...Read the full article.
Most of us were glued to the hugely anticipated premier of Planet Earth 2 this Sunday. We watched lovesick sloths meander through the mangroves, giant dragons battle it out on Komodo, and penguins getting fecked off cliffs by monstrous waves.
But if there was one scene that got us talking more than any other it was the literal race for survival that took place...Read the full article.
Many academic fields are staffed by a male-biased mix of faculty. But the existence and degree of faculty gender imbalance varies among fields. Further, those fields often are quite broadly defined in published datasets (e.g., “biology”), which can leave many people wondering how well published data apply to their own, narrower field (e.g., “ecology”). Gender balance of academic fields also changes over time, but only slowly. Published data therefore only give you an imperfect sense of the gender balance of recent hires in your field. And personal anecdotes and experiences provide only a very small sample. Every year there are many dozens of faculty hired in ecology and closely-allied fields, but nobody hears through the grapevine about the outcomes of more than a small fraction of those hires.
So I decided to quantify the gender balance of recently-hired ecology faculty at North American colleges and universities. I’m doing it by going through...Read the full article.
I like to read about science and scientists. I like books that get me thinking about science and how to do it. But I find it difficult to identify popular science and history of science books that I will enjoy. The problem is that I’m a scientist. Many popular science books are too basic/slow-moving for me, too familiar, or else too wildly speculative.
That’s where you come in. In the comments, please share your recommendations for your favorite popular science and history of science books. Specifically, ones that you think that scientists would especially enjoy.
To kick things off, here are some of my favorite popular science books, books that I think readers of this blog would really like as well. I also threw in a book you’d probably think I would’ve liked, but I didn’t.
(UPDATE #2: You have GOT to read the comments as well. Our commenters came through big time, as they always do. I love our commenters!)
...Read the full article.
When you’re approaching your viva, all those who have gone before you will give you advice. And the majority of it is gold. Here’s just some of the advice I was given before my viva, and whether it helped at all:
Try to enjoy it. This was great advice, but I didn’t have the capacity to try to do anything except “think before speaking”. But as I say, fab advice. Do take it if you can!
Know that it should be challenging. It’s true. My viva was tough. Interesting, challenging, all those words people use when what they really mean is: it was hard. Hard because the questions are meant to be challenging and/or hard because you’re so stressed that even relatively easy questions seem challenging. But it was helpful to remember that finding it hard doesn’t mean you’re failing. It means you’re getting something out of the experience. It certainly helps if your examiners were lovely like mine were. There were times...Read the full article.
Today’s post doesn’t deal with any weighty issues. Instead, it has a simple seminar tip I wish more people knew: if you are giving a presentation from your own laptop, turn wifi off before you start your talk.
I’m sure there are exceptions where someone would need to be connected to the internet during a talk, but in my experience, the vast majority of seminar speakers do not need to be connected to the internet.
What is the downside to being connected? If you forget to fully quit Skype or turn off your desktop notifications, all those pop ups will be distracting (and potentially embarrassing).
In seminars I’ve been in, the Skype pop ups are the most common distraction. They are a minor distraction a distraction nonetheless. And if they turn from the “soandso is online” ones to instant messages from contacts, they can quickly become bigger distractions. The desktop notifications of new emails, tweets, etc. are very distracting (and have even...Read the full article.
In this post, I am not giving advice —I’m asking for it! Do you stay on top of your email? If so, how?
First, I’ll start with a survey asking about email:
Being overwhelmed by emails is something I brought up in last week’s Friday Links (also see * below), where I linked to this BBC piece on why we feel busy all the time, even though we’re not. From that piece:
There are always more incoming emails, more meetings, more things to read, more ideas to follow up – and digital mobile technology means you can easily crank through a few more to-do list items at home, or on holiday, or...Read the full article.
In 1993 Free Willy leapt onto cinema screens around the world. The story about a young boy who saves a killer whale from a run-down theme park was an instant hit for Warner Bros. However for Keiko, the whale who played Willy, the story did not have a Hollywood ending. While Willy jumped to freedom as the credits rolled, Keiko remained in captivity. What followed was a global effort to return Keiko to the wild at all costs, even to Keiko himself.
Keiko, a male killer whale (Orcinus orca), was born in the North Atlantic off Iceland, sometime between 1977 and 1978. His life took a strange turn when in 1979 he was captured and sent to the Icelandic aquarium in Hafnarfjörður. He was then sold to Marineland of Canada Inc. in 1982 and moved to Ontario, joining a small group of other killer whales. Finally, Keiko was sold to the amusement park Reino Aventura in Mexico City in 1985, for $350,000. While in Mexico Keiko lived alone in an approximately 500,000-gallon...Read the full article.
I define a serial bully as somebody who repeatedly bullies new victims and never gets caught or stopped*. I don’t have exact statistics at my fingertips, but it is a definite 90/10 scenario (90% of the bullying is done by 10% of the people) – and it is that small fraction that are the serial bullies. Every campus has a PhD adviser (or three) who repeatedly abuses and victimizes his/her students. And you might have a senior colleague in your department who bullies everybody junior to her/him just because they can. Or you may have met a researcher who will do anything, ethical or not, to “win” at research, leaving behind a trail of people feeling used or abused. And although there are many unique aspects to sexual harassment, it most certainly involves bullying-like abuse of power against someone and it most certainly shares the trait that most offenders repeat over and over without getting called on it (as recent shameful cases to make the news show –...Read the full article.