Posts

March 23, 2015

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8:00 PM | The clothes don’t make the scientist
Those of you who saw my somewhat exasperated tweets last week know that I was reacting to this story on the Scientific American Voices Blog about how female scientists are portrayed in media coverage. (Answer: Superficially and with far too much attention to appearances).
Editor's Pick
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7:18 PM | 3 Symptoms Of PhD Loneliness (And 5 Ways To Fix It)
PhD loneliness will hit you when you are working at midnight on some research topic nobody in your continent understands (or give a damn about) except for you. You are in a scientific micro-niche. So micro, you got nobody to talk with. And you feel alone. After all, you are born alone. You do a PhD […]
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6:33 PM | Newer Studies Say Online Instruction Neither Harms Nor Benefits the Average University Student
More than 5 million college students took an online class during the 2013-14 school year (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin of a college student in a St. Mary’s College dormitory in Lexington Park, Md.) Does online learning work? Do college students learn better, or at least as well, from computer instruction as they do from a human teacher? That’s a question asked over and over again by not only students, parents and professors, but also by academic researchers. It’s […]
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4:54 PM | Virginia Beach… Demolished.
What a race! BB and I ran the Virginia Beach Shamrock Half-marathon side by side, and we destroyed our previous personal record. We went from 2:14:44 to 2:05:03. A reduction of 9 minutes and 41 seconds. Or, essentially, more than a mile faster. Meaning, compared to our last half-marathon, we were finishing this one while […]
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2:37 PM | Online Learning Goes the Distance
Over the past ten years, online education has become an increasingly mainstream part of the higher education landscape. Since 2002 – when roughly 1.6 million college students had taken at least one course online - enrollment in online education has more than tripled. Nearly three-fourths of all four-year colleges now offer online classes, including at elite schools, and the vast majority of public two-year colleges now offer online coursework as well. Casual observers may equate online […]
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2:36 PM | Thinking vs. Doing
Currently in my PhD I’m looking at different methods and software for digitising my large spider dataset of many, high frame-rate videos. This was a step that was supposed to take about a week, exploring options before deciding on a … Continue reading →
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1:20 PM | Meet the Cells of the Immune System
claimtoken-55144d7acb616 A couple of weeks ago I talked to you about my project. However, it was (rightly) pointed out that maybe I should introduce the parts of the project little by little. So let's start with the cells I work with. Mast Cell. Daisy Chung  © Rice University 2014First a quick introduction. Our immune system (IS) includes not only cells, but also tissues and molecules that allow the system to recognize and respond to disease from the common cold (a viral infection) to […]
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12:00 PM | The more things change, the more they change
I just had the pleasure of spending a couple days hiking around the interior of Catalina Island. The last time I did this was about 23 years ago, when I was a student on an undergraduate field trip for a course in Conservation Biology. I learned a lot from that course, and a lot of…
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11:35 AM | New on F1000Research – 23 March 2015
A selection of new content on F1000Research from the past week. To receive notification of all new articles, sign up for our table of contents alerts. Featured article Guiding Ebola patients to suitable health facilities: an SMS-based approach [v1; ref status: indexed, http://f1000r.es/51l] Mohamad-Ali Trad, Raja Jurdak, Rajib Rana “We propose building a [...]
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10:53 AM | Keeping track of lab finances
Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time working through lab finances. I need to make personnel decisions, and what I want to do is: Make sure the amount of money I think I have to spend is the amount I … Continue reading →
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4:00 AM | Reproducibility - do you have what it takes?
Reproducibility is supposed to be a cornerstone of modern science, in that everything we do (writing methods, almost releasing data, the whole peer-review system) is supposed to ensure that, given only your paper, some hypothetical person can reproduce your results without having to look for additional information. It's the way I've first been told about scientific literature. It's also a blatant lie, and it's only getting worse. First, and although I'm yet to try it for myself (this would be […]

March 22, 2015

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11:50 PM | Is the medium a monster?
“Dinosaurs have become boring. They’re a cliché. They’re overexposed” – Stephen Jay Gould Dinosaurs have always been inextricably linked to popular culture. Despite going extinct 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period they pervade our society. Dinosaur exhibits are the main attractions of natural history museums and outside of this setting, they can be found in films, documentaries, books, toy shops etc. A new discovery of […]
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7:00 PM | PRIMES Dominates High School Research
The 2015 Intel Science Talent Search results are out. This year they divided the prizes into three categories: basic research, global good, and innovation. All three top prizes in basic research were awarded to our PRIMES students: First place: Noah Golowich, Resolving a Conjecture on Degree of Regularity, with some Novel Structural Results Second place: […]
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6:58 PM | Puzzling Grades
I lead recitations for a Linear Algebra class at MIT. Sometimes my students are disappointed with their grades. The grades are based on the final score, which is calculated by the following formula: 15% for homework, 15% for each of the three midterms, and 40% for the final. After all the scores are calculated, we […]
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3:13 PM | Possibly pedantic points: scientific names
When it comes to certain things, I am a pedant. Not the annoying beat-you-over-the-head type of pedant, but the type that has been known to geek out over methods for reporting taxonomic authorities (it’s all in the parentheses). This weekend, … Continue reading →
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10:52 AM | Can Neuroscience Teach Us About Winemaking?
Modern winemakers may have erred when they switched to producing high alcohol wines. According to a new paper, from Spanish neuroscientists Ram Frost and colleagues, a low alcohol content wine actually produces more brain activity in 'taste processing' areas than more alcoholic varieties do. But what does the brain really have to say about Beaujolais? Can scanning help us pick a Sauvignon? Will neuroimaging reveal the secret to a good... er... Nero d'Avola? In their paper, publishe

Frost R, Quiñones I, Veldhuizen M, Alava JI, Small D & Carreiras M (2015). What Can the Brain Teach Us about Winemaking? An fMRI Study of Alcohol Level Preferences., PloS one, 10 (3) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25785844

Citation

March 21, 2015

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2:00 PM | Check your tweets
It’s no secret that the information we share on social media can get us in trouble. You can embarrass yourself, ruin your reputation, and even get arrested using fewer than 140 characters. Tweets are also reflections of a person’s current state – they shed light on things we find interesting, the events in our lives, and […]

March 20, 2015

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10:19 PM | Can Monkeys Get Depressed?
According to a new study from Chinese neuroscientists Fan Xu and colleagues, some monkeys can experience depression in a similar way to humans. The researchers studied cynomolgus monkeys, also known as crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis), a species native to Southeast Asia. Cynomolgus monkeys are highly social animals. Xu et al. previously showed that isolating a monkey from its companions caused it to develop depression-like behaviors. In their new paper, the authors say that they'v

Xu F, Wu Q, Xie L, Gong W, Zhang J, Zheng P, Zhou Q, Ji Y, Wang T, Li X & Fang L (2015). Macaques exhibit a naturally-occurring depression similar to humans., Scientific reports, 5 9220. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25783476

Citation
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9:35 PM | Why Full-Day Kindergarten is a Key Piece of the Early Ed Puzzle
In recent years, early education has been on federal and state policymakers’ radar more than ever before. The Obama Administration has introduced several early learning initiatives, from Preschool Development Grants and Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge, to the ambitious Preschool for All proposal. Meanwhile, a growing number of red and blue states across the country are taking the initiative to pilot and expand public pre-k programs for four-year-olds without the help of the […]
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9:28 PM | Investing in Immigrants in Minnesota & the Midwest
During the 1980s and 1990s, I lived in a corner of Michigan that was particularly buffeted by the pressures of globalization. Our area’s auto plant closed and the local pharmaceutical company gradually left town through a series of buyouts and corporate mergers. Our town was nothing unique in this regard—just another Rust Belt community at the mercy of macroeconomic forces well beyond its control (though things appear to be changing for the better). Nor was it unique in terms of […]
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8:00 PM | Moses in U.S. History
For hundreds of years, Old Testament prophets have been absent from American history narratives. That might seem entirely appropriate to, say, historians, but it was apparently somewhat annoying to religious conservatives. Well, no more. The strange and very conservative board that approves instruction materials in the state of Texas has long dominated the textbook market across the United States. Because the Texas State Board of Education gets to approve state textbooks, and because Texas is […]
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4:24 PM | Wreaking Havoc with a Stellar Fly-By
You can't model RW Aurigae as a single star with a disk of material around it, because there is a second star. And you can't model it as a regular old binary system either, because there are interactions between the stars and the asymmetric disk. The authors of today's paper create a comprehensive hydrodynamic model that considers many different observations of RW Aurigae.
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4:15 PM | What this Spring's Common Core Tests Promised, and What They Will Actually Deliver
Muslim Alkurdi, 18, of Albuquerque High School, joins hundreds of classmates in Albuquerque, N.M, Monday, March 2, 2015, as students staged a walkout to protest a new standardized test they say isn't an accurate measurement of their education. Students frustrated over the new exam walked out of schools across the state Monday in protest as the new exam was being given. The backlash came as millions of U.S. students start taking more rigorous exams aligned with Common Core standards. New Common […]
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3:44 PM | Data not shown: trust, doubt and beauty.
Trust is forms the bedrock of the scientific enterprise. We must trust that people did what they said they did, and that the published data are the observed data. We rely on each others’ results to inform our own understanding and to inform future research. If we cannot believe what we read the whole enterprise grinds to […]
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3:00 PM | How Can Springtime Help Predict Climate Change?
How Can Springtime Help Predict Climate Change?
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3:00 PM | Pace Law School's Tuition Matching Program
Many law schools are having trouble attracting students to apply. They’re trying to get creative. There’s the LSAT optional gimmick. There’s also a plan to put law school online. Recently Pace University Law School, in New York, announced a new one. According to the school: Pace Law School today unveiled a first-in-the-nation tuition matching program designed to make legal education more accessible to students across the country. The program, which will save students tens of […]
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2:42 PM | Words and Images
As my last post said, I have been sitting on a lot of committees recently and consequently reading a lot of references. I am pleased to observe that it has been the men round the table who have been complaining … Continue reading →
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1:46 PM | Open Science News – 20 March 2015
Amanda Rodewald writes on The Hill about recent bills considered in the US, and discusses whether they are in sync with the ideal of Open Science. Lots of tweets from the Open Science meeting at the Center for Open Science on #opensci15 An interesting workshop for graduate school administrators “from Engineering, Marine [...]
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11:55 AM | Friday links: Andy Warhol on citations, and (a bit) more
From Jeremy: Philosopher of ecology Jay Odenbaugh argues that ecological theory doesn’t need to make accurate predictions to be successful science, and that you’re misunderstanding the purpose of theory if you think otherwise. The paper’s a few years old, but … Continue reading →
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8:18 AM | A Day in the Life of a PhD Student
We thought it might be interesting to share what the daily life of a PhD student actually looks like. So here are three perspectives on the average day. Adam A typical day for me begins between 8 and 9. I start out by checking my emails for correspondence and any interesting new papers that have been published. You typically have content alerts set up to send directly to your email account. As the blog administrator, I often upload new posts to our site in the morning. I’ll usually be in […]
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