Posts

April 29, 2015

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11:30 AM | Do students do better when they write exams faster (or slower)?
As I was grading my final exams last week, I wondered about ‘quantity’ of answers to written questions as opposed to ‘quality’ of the answer: in other words, some students write a lot of stuff for an answer, but could have received full points on a question without filling a page with tiny handwriting. Here’s what […]
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11:22 AM | On “stamp collecting” in ecology
Was looking back over this old post on Tony Ives’ MacArthur award lecture, in which he commented that system-specific models in ecology (or any field, really) aren’t just a “stamp collection” of unrelated, unique special cases. They’re more like a … Continue reading →
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8:06 AM | Can we amend the laws of scholarly publication?
As part of its celebrations to mark the 350th anniversary of the publication of Philosophical Transactions, the world’s longest-running scientific journal, the Royal Society arnessas convened a meeting to examine ‘The Future of Scholarly Scientific Communication’. The first half of the meeting, … Continue reading →
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7:36 AM | The Perils of Procrastination
Voter registration in the UK showed just how many people are good at procrastination, with nearly half a million people registering on the last possible day. My email inbox is also a good indicator of people’s expectation that we are … Continue reading →
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7:29 AM | Encode your own time | Amy Coats
We, and the world around us, may have a more important role in determining our inner sense of time than we thoughtThose split second decisions, made almost without thinking. When to put your foot on the pedal when you’re at the red light. When to check how those sausages are doing. Remembering to grab your lunch from the fridge seconds before you leave the house. Or – too often – 20 minutes after. And those carefully considered ones. Do I just finish this paragraph before I […]
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5:01 AM | OYM74: MOR Pain MOR Gain
This week on the On Your Mind Neuroscience Podcast: Kat’s away, and Liam is reunited with Adel Farah. Long time listeners will remember that a year ago Adel left academia for medschool, and Liam has recently decided that he will be leaving academia for…. something. We have a long chat about our motivations for leaving ...read more The post OYM74: MOR Pain MOR Gain appeared first on On Your Mind Podcast.
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2:57 AM | New Orleans is Still Rebuilding. The People Who Live There Should Get a Say
There’s a rare opportunity in New Orleans to show local and national arenas that constant community engagement matters, as the city’s new public schools superintendent revisits the facilities master plan for education. This plan hasn’t been revised in four years, a breach of a previous administration’s promise to look at it biennially. Now, Supt. Henderson Lewis has a chance to return to a community engagement model created in 2008. Orleans Parish’s districts […]
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1:45 AM | Are some people genetically predisposed to stay happily...
Are some people genetically predisposed to stay happily married? Researchers at UC Berkeley have found a major clue in our DNA.

April 28, 2015

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7:00 PM | Surviving a PhD disaster
This post is written by Brian Flemming, a mathematician working as a Systems Engineer in Edinburgh.  He completed an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) as a mature student at Heriot Watt University in 2014 and is now appreciating the freedom to continue studying and spend time away on the hills, without the associated “PhD-guilt” of neglecting the […]
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2:05 PM | The Future of FoodWhen it comes to food in America, a lot has...
The Future of FoodWhen it comes to food in America, a lot has changed in the past few decades: Americans used to spend 15% of their disposable income on food, now they spend just 6.1%. In 1982, 12% of our groceries were processed food and sweets. Now it is 23%. The U.S. used to have 6.8 millions farms. Now there are about 2 million. “The food system has changed for the worse. Yes, food is cheap or appears to be cheap, but it’s not good for us and that’s a […]
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12:57 PM | Scientific Paternalism.
This isn’t about GMOs. My opinion on GMO crops is that they are safe, and should be widely adopted for the many, many benefits they bring. Humans have been adapting crops and animals to their needs for millennia, and now we have some new ways to do it. I have come to this opinion based […]
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12:00 PM | Academia is flexible/science waits for no one
Whew, I’m just coming through a stressful personal and professional time. Never has it been clearer to me exactly how academia is both very flexible and completely inflexible at the same time. Of course, academia can be flexible. You can control your schedule in many small and large ways. I can choose to work on…
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10:51 AM | Service: How much and what kinds?
Something that I need to continually evaluate is how much service I’m doing and what specific kinds of service I want to do or should be doing. The questions I almost always have in mind while doing so are “Am … Continue reading →
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9:51 AM | Why is star formation so inefficient?
Stars form via gravitational collapse of molecular cloud cores. But observations reveal that far less gas is turned into stars than you would suspect by naively calculating the star formation rate. So what can we do about this mismatch?
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7:58 AM | Greetings from Tuscany!
I am currently in Tuscany for the Gordon Research Conference on Multidrug Efflux Systems. This is the first time I've been able to attend this meeting since the very first one in 2003. There are actually a few hundred different Gordon Research Conferences (GRC), each on a different scientific topic. I'll be at another GRC in August in Hong Kong. GRCs are typically smallish meetings (100-150 scientists) held in relatively remote locations, so attendees are "trapped" at the meeting. I've always […]
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6:00 AM | Who has a real vision for science in Britain’s general election?
The run-up to the general election has seen campaigns such as Science Matters attempting to put science firmly on the election agenda. But is anyone listening?This piece was first published on The ConversationAs the general election draws ever closer we all wait anxiously to see what complexion government we end up with; scientists are no different from anyone else in this respect. Graeme Reid recently described how government protection of the science budget had come at a cost over the last […]
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5:35 AM | A Hollow Victory: Senator Murray's Early Education Amendment
Earlier this month, the Senate HELP committee began its markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on a high note for early education. In his opening statement, HELP Chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) declared full support for Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants (ELAIG) Amendment, saying “ Senators Murray and Isakson (R-GA) will propose and I will support an amendment for competitive planning grants to help states expand […]
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5:06 AM | Five Studies Find Online Courses Are Not Working Well at Community Colleges
Here’s an unusual case where scholarly research is producing a clear conclusion: online instruction at community colleges isn’t working. Yet policymakers are continuing to fund programs to expand online courses at these schools, which primarily serve low-income minority students, and community college administrators are planning to offer more and more of them. The latest salvo comes from researchers at the University of California-Davis, who found that community college students […]

April 27, 2015

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8:40 PM | Me and my Soapbox: The importance of proper journalism on science/medical topics
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8:26 PM | We’re recruiting a good Scientific Software Engineer
A few months ago Mick Watson wrote an awesome post about How to recruit a good bioinformatician. We’re in the process of hiring a scientific software engineer so I thought I’d use Mick’s post to illustrate why you should come work with us doing scientific software development and data-intensive research, and hopefully provide a concrete […]
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8:02 PM | No Reason To Think That Thinking "Fuels Brain Cancer"
This week has seen a flurry of alarming headlines suggesting that thinking can make brain cancer grow quicker. For example: HuffPo: Thinking Can Fuel The Growth Of Brain Tumors, Study Finds Daily Mail: How your THOUGHTS can fuel brain tumours Nation (Pakistan): Cancer ‘hijacks’ process of thinking Well, whoever wrote these headlines is safe, then. The research in question in fact wasn't about thinking. It actually showed that the growth of tumours called gliomas could be […]
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5:00 PM | Things you learn doing outreach
A short, light post this time. I'll be doing an outreach event as a USGS rep in a couple of weeks, and having done the demo once already at AAAS's 2015 Family Science Days, I was thinking about the things I learned last time. Some of these have also applied to other outreach I've done (I love doing video chats with students and science clubs, especially if I can get people excited about geology!)
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3:55 PM | Do the Arts Go Hand in Hand With Common Core?
Zarria Porter, 14, stands in front of “Song of the Towers,” her favorite of the 69 paintings replicated to hang in her school. Photo: Kevin Hagen Fourteen-year-old Zarria Porter spends her days surrounded by fine works of art. On her way to dance and computer classes, she passes through a sun-drenched lobby showcasing Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Brooklyn Bridge,” Albert Bierstadt’s “In the Mountains” and her personal favorite, “Song of the […]
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2:34 PM | It Never Ends.
Today I am having my Air Conditioner replaced. Another $3,500. I am now past the $20,000 mark on repairs to this house that was sold as if in livable condition. I count myself incredibly fortunate that I have had the resources necessary (with a little help from my insurance company and my mom) to make […]
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2:10 PM | The life of a coffee beanThere’s a lot more to making a good cup...
The life of a coffee beanThere’s a lot more to making a good cup of joe than just boiling water. It begins with a ripe red coffee cherry hand picked from the plant that’s then transformed into a dried green bean.It’s a time- and labor-intensive process. First harvested cherries, each containing two beans, are put through a depulper, which removes their thin skins. Then they’re soaked in water for a day or two, during which fermentation occurs. Next, the cherries are […]
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1:33 PM | Springer caught red-handed selling access to an Open Access article
Today, the author of a paid-for, ‘hybrid’ open access article published in 2009, found that it was wrongly on sale at a Springer website: Why is my Open Access paper http://t.co/z9civKYuCf for sale at @SpringerLink ($39.95)? http://t.co/tZLfn8eudQ — Luis A. Apiolaza (@zentree) April 27, 2015 FWIW it’s still freely available at the original publisher website … Read more →
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12:00 PM | Student wingmen
Once in a while, I interact with student wingmen. Or academic twinsies. At least, that’s those are the monikers I’ve had in mind when I work with such a pair of students. Who are these dyads? Pairs of students like these are more inseparable than any romantic partnership. They enroll in many of the same classes,…
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11:32 AM | How not to start your next ecology or evolution talk (UPDATED)
The beginning of a scientific talk should grab the audience’s attention. Or rather, hold the audience’s attention, since ordinarily you have the audience’s attention when you start talking. How do you do that? Here are some common pitfalls to avoid, … Continue reading →
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11:26 AM | New on F1000Research – 27 April 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 Last week we published the first ever “living figure” that includes data from several labs, allowing researchers to collaborate on a publication. In this article by [...]
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10:59 AM | The brains behind the ‘Aha!’ moment
Researchers at UCL have discovered what happens in our brains when we start connecting the dotsWhen you first move to London it’s very common to quickly gain very detailed, even intimate knowledge of two or three locales, but not know how they are connected geographically. It’s not until there’s a Tube strike and you have to cycle or take the bus, or for some other reason find yourself driving or walking with central London, that you suddenly realise that places you thought […]
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