September 29, 2014

11:00 AM | Busy is no myth
I have seen a few blog posts recently about the myth of busy in PhD students and other academics. In short, it seems that everyone is incredibly busy, all the time, and that how much time you don’t have is a proxy of your academic credentials. I disagree. Not with the premise – we are busy. All of us. We have plenty of things to do, and plenty of pressure to do them fast, so that we can do some more things fast and show our leadership and competitiveness and all of these things that […]
4:44 AM | Cross-country recap, and a brief hiatus
So I've made it across the country, and I'm now happily settled in California and getting used to my new job as a postdoc with the USGS! However, being a federal employee means I have different regulations to follow while using social media, so I'm going to be taking a break from blogging while I sort those out. To tide you over, here are some of my favorite photos from the cross-country drive, which was a great (though long) experience.
4:00 AM | Human Frontier Science Program Signs DORA but Chief Calls for Action from Those Making Real Career Decisions
Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker's organization, the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), made it official on September 19 when it signed DORA, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment. In signing, the HFSP, an international coalition funded by 15 countries to support basic life science research, pledged to follow the DORA principles to minimize the use of journal impact factors (JIFs) in scientific assessment for hiring, promotion, and funding. The HFSP's Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker says […]

September 28, 2014

11:05 PM | Un-reclaiming the name – I am not a zoologist
[Disclaimer - this is just my opinion. I do not speak for everyone at EcoEvo@TCD] Recently on Twitter there has been a call to “reclaim the name” of Botany accompanied with the hashtag: #iamabotanist. The response has been really cool – lots of different scientists working on different questions have posted pictures of themselves on Twitter, often with their plants. It’s amazing the diversity of researchers out there who identify as botanists. But why try to reclaim the […]

September 27, 2014

12:37 PM | The Memory Fades, The Emotion Remains
People with Alzheimer’s disease can experience severe memory impairments.However, according to a new study, the emotions associated with events can persist long after the events themselves have been forgotten: Feelings Without Memory in Alzheimer Disease In their paper, the researchers, University of Iowa neurologists Edmarie Guzman-Velez and colleagues, showed volunteers a series of emotional video […]The post The Memory Fades, The Emotion Remains appeared first on Neuroskeptic.

Guzmán-Vélez E, Feinstein JS & Tranel D (2014). Feelings without memory in Alzheimer disease., Cognitive and behavioral neurology : official journal of the Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology, 27 (3) 117-29. PMID:

11:19 AM | Watch Jeremy’s talk on blogging at Utah State University
Earlier this month I gave a talk on blogging at Utah State University. A video of the talk is now online. The lighting and sound are a bit rocky right at the beginning, but they’re great after that. It’s a … Continue reading →

September 26, 2014

9:00 PM | Sometimes a Community College Degree Is Actually Worthless
This perhaps shouldn’t come as much of a surprise at this point, but now it’s official: there are some college degrees that don’t improve earnings whatsoever. At least as far as community colleges go, some degrees just really aren’t worth it. According to an article at the Hechinger Report: The research, conducted under the aegis of the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment and focused on community colleges, confirms the widely accepted belief […]
6:04 PM | My First Radio Interview About Teaching and Microbial Supremacy!
I am thankful for any readers of this blog, but have always wanted to reach out more, to discuss Microbial Supremacy, Overwhelming Microbial Goodness (OMG), and Matters Microbial in general.  Someday, I would like to write a book.  Any guesses as to the title I am thinking of? Pretty obvious, really.On campus, I am thought to be a little monomaniacal on the subject  (okay, a lot; guilty as charged).  But it was a fairly local phenomenon, with job interviews in the old days, […]
6:01 PM | The King Fire in California Above are some images of the King...
The King Fire in California Above are some images of the King Fire in the Sierra Neveada Mountains of California.  A research reserve run by UC Berkeley where scientists study how to manage wildfires is threatened by this fire.  One of these researchers is Scott Stephens, a professor of fire science, and was interviewed recently to talk about how many years of suppressing fires has actually contributed to the large scale blazes we see today. You can listen to his […]
4:00 PM | It's Time to Reform Work-Study Programs
The Federal Work Study program, which provides money to American colleges to hire students to do campus jobs, has long been a source of crucial spending money for students. It provides them with a reasonably convenient way to earn money while taking classes. Often they can even integrate the jobs with their studies, particular by working for professors or in academic departments where they also major. But the program isn’t really working very well, according to a new paper by Rory […]
3:08 PM | Yes, Some Colleges Are Hurt by College Rankings. That's How It's Supposed to Work.
For the last year or so we’ve heard a great deal about President Barack Obama’s proposed college rating system, the basic outlines of which are, according to a 2013 piece in the New York Times: A plan to rate colleges…based on measures like tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of lower-income students who attend. The ratings would compare colleges against their peer institutions. If the plan can win Congressional approval, the idea is […]
12:00 PM | Recommended reads #36
One Woman’s Life in Science. This came out almost twenty years ago in the Sigma Xi magazine, but it reads as if could have been written yesterday. When universities sell their souls, why do they have to sell so cheaply? “Student course evaluations are often misused statistically and shed little light on the quality of…
11:53 AM | Friday links: climate change (for women and the planet), yeast mail, grumpy frog, and more (UPDATED)
Also this week: questioning the evidence for p-hacking, hamster wheel desks, are academics becoming more selfish, new faculty advice, resources for modelers, 35 years of “Spandrels”, zombie ideas in other fields, making nerd fury work for you, and more. From … Continue reading →
9:30 AM | Cat and Dogs: seeking solutions with sniffing canines and science
Hi Mia and Julie,  First of all, I LOVE your blog! After meeting at SPARCS this past summer (summer for us in North America.. I take it summer is just beginning in Australia!), I’ve followed it closely.  You do amazing things for the promotion of  canine science. Serious love. A bit of background for the readers: I’m currently doing my PhD at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Simon […]

Brown S.W. & Strong V. (2001). The use of seizure-alert dogs, Seizure, 10 (1) 39-41. DOI:

Gonder-Frederick L., D. Warren, K. Vajda & J. Shepard (2013). Diabetic Alert Dogs: A Preliminary Survey of Current Users, Diabetes Care, 36 (4) e47-e47. DOI:

Rooney N.J. & Claire Guest (2013). Investigation into the Value of Trained Glycaemia Alert Dogs to Clients with Type I Diabetes, PLoS ONE, 8 (8) e69921. DOI:

Matyka K.A. (2002). Sweet dreams? - nocturnal hypoglycemia in children with type 1 diabetes, Pediatric Diabetes, 3 (2) 74-81. DOI:

Wells D.L., Lawson S.W. & Siriwardena A.N. Canine responses to hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes., Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), PMID:

2:11 AM | Believe it or not, this is a radio that is roughly the size of a...
Believe it or not, this is a radio that is roughly the size of a small ant. Researchers at ucberkeley and Stanford have developed this device that uses so little electricity that the data it transmits can actually power the device itself. The tiny radios would pass along information like a tiny, wireless bucket brigade. Read more about this tiny device →

September 25, 2014

11:05 PM | PhD students and the cult of busy
  Academics often remind me of the Four Yorkshire Men in the old sketch (not actually originally a Monty Python sketch, but famously performed by them in their live shows – comedy nerd out over, carry on), except rather than trying to outdo each with how deprived we were as kids, we’re always trying to outdo each other with tales of how busy we are. We do it so often that it becomes hard to draw the line between how much this reflects how busy we really are, and how much is […]
7:38 PM | Is the Royal Society Treating Women Fairly?
This year’s announcement regarding successful applicants for Royal Society University Research Fellowships (URFs) has been hailed with deep suspicion by many. Out of 43 awards only 2 went to women and there is no getting around the fact that this … Continue reading →
6:44 PM | Why we LOL
Originally posted on NeuWrite San Diego:Humor is a difficult concept to articulate. We might not always know why things are funny, but we do tend to know what kinds of things are funny. It comes in many forms, and general consensus is that things like videos of treadmill mishaps, cynical comics and corny puns are…
5:12 PM | Magnets!… How do they work?! This...
Magnets!… How do they work?! This “unclassified” US Navy video from 1954 explains how basic electromagnetism works, and we’ve definitely come a long way since then in our understanding of magnets. UC Berkeley researchers are working on replacing traditional transistors with magnets to save power. Transistors are the extremely tiny electronic switches that are in all of our computers and gadgets. About 4 billion of them can fit on a CPU the size of a postage stamp. More […]
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