Posts

September 14, 2014

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11:05 PM | Learning the art of conferencing
The start of the new academic year marks the end of my second conference season. I attended two conferences; Evolution 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina and the British Ecological Society Macroecology meeting at the University of Nottingham. They were at the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of size and specificity but they were both interesting, useful and, most surprisingly for me, enjoyable. The difference is that I knew what to expect. Last summer was my first taste of conferences along […]
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7:04 PM | Popular neuroscience book suggestions
Neuroscience isn’t really my thing, so when my teenage daughter came asking for suggestions of a good popular book on the subject I took to Twitter. Several people kindly made suggestions, while others asked to be notified of the outcome … Continue reading →

September 13, 2014

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4:44 PM | Highlights from the installation speech of UBC’s 13th President, Arvind Gupta
Here are excerpts from the speech of Arvind Gupta at his official installation as UBC’s 13th president. Canada’s post-secondary system should take notice. “We recognize UBC as a Place of Mind, but also as a place of shared cultures, traditions, and … Continue reading →

September 12, 2014

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10:41 PM | Jellyfish flames in space fuckyeahfluiddynamics: The...
Jellyfish flames in space fuckyeahfluiddynamics: The jellyfish-like light show in the animations above shows the life and death of a flame in microgravity. The work is part of the Flame Extinguishment Experiment 2 (FLEX-2) currently flying aboard the International Space Station. When ignited, the fuel droplet creates a blue spherical shell of flame about 15 mm in diameter. The spherical shape is typical of flames in microgravity; on Earth, flames are shaped like teardrops due to the […]
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8:32 PM | The Nasty College Debt Disease
College debt enters late night comedy. From Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: “Essentially, student debt is like HPV. If you go to college, you’re almost certainly going to get it, and if you do, it will follow you for the rest of your life.” While that’s not exactly the sort of joke you repeat to grandma, it’s a pretty good comparison. College debt is sort of like human papillomavirus. It’s not necessarily horrible, and everyone else seems to have it […]
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3:55 PM | Q&A with Jon Bacal: Looking Back on a Year of Starting a School From Scratch
Venture Academy in Minneapolis went through some growing pains its first year. The 6-12 charter school, which opened in August for its second year of operation, promotes entrepreneurship through technology and student-developed projects. Students are called “trailblazers” and teachers are “learning coaches.” Students spend part of the day in small groups or on computers working on math and literacy skills. They have opportunities to work on large-scale independent […]
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2:23 PM | Open Science News – 12 September 2014
The European Commission is asking for feedback on their paper “‘Science 2.0′- Science in Transition”. They’re inviting residents of Europe to read the paper and send in their thoughts before September 30. After it came to light that the first round of review, at Science, of the controversial STAP study was overwhelmingly critical, [...]
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12:59 PM | A plea for Mr Obama and other world leaders: its time to support science | Steve Caplan
As the Ebola epidemic demonstrates, the world is an ever more dangerous place, and wealthy democracies have a moral obligation to invest in less fortunate countries and to support a more stable and secure world. But neglecting science will be devastating in the long runIf anyone had the notion that the 21st century would bring peace and prosperity to most of the world, a mere glance at the newspaper shatters that illusion on a daily basis. Horrific wars and conflicts, downed civilian aircrafts, […]
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12:42 PM | KCL researchers can publish for free
Are you a researcher at King’s College London? And is your research funded by RCUK or the Wellcome Trust? If so,we have good news: the open access librarian at King’s College London has purchased a block of pre-paid Article Processing Charges (APCs) for F1000Research, allowing a number of researchers to publish with us at [...]
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12:00 PM | Recommended reads #35
Papers that triumphed over their rejections. How world-changing papers by Fermi, Krebs, Higgs, Margulis, Brockman, Mullis and more were rejected by Science or Nature. It’s fascinating to see the rationales for rejecting these manuscripts that, in hindsight, are so huge and important. By Nikolai Slavov. The new “What if?” book by Randall Munroe of xkcd is spectacular. I think…
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11:38 AM | Friday links: falsificationist vs. confirmationist science, transgendered scientists, lizard vs. iPhone, and more
Here’s what Meg and I did this week: Also this week: when flunking tests is good for you, don’t fight sexism by pretending nobody has kids, bad advice for graduate students, active learning the easy way, the two cultures of … Continue reading →
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11:22 AM | Of shrinking brains and modern anxieties
A recent piece in Discover magazine highlights research on changes in brain size over the last 20 000 years. Contrary to what you might expect, the findings seem to point to decreasing size up until very recently (the last century or so, when better nutrition and public health measures became available). The article doesn’t mention […]
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11:05 AM | The Night of the Elephants: Adventures of a Scientist in the Field
Scientists are more likely to have adventures than many people with more mundane jobs. Stephanie Schuttler is a good example.
Editor's Pick
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8:40 AM | The Scottish Independence Referendum: final thoughts
Having posted twice on this topic already (on research funding and on general issues), as well as re-blogging Angela’s post, here are some final thoughts in advance of the referendum on Thursday. I’m expecting the media buildup to be almost unbearable, so after today I’ll be avoiding it as much as possible! The first point, […]

September 11, 2014

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11:05 PM | Gender balanced conferences – we all need to try harder!
Recently a conference on Phylogenetic Comparative Methods was advertised online, and quickly the Twitter community noted that all six of the plenary talks were being given by men. Normally my response to this kind of thing would be some grumpy tweeting and then I’d let it go. However, this time was different; I know one of the organisers, several of the plenary speakers are my collaborators and this is the field I’ve dedicated the last eight years of my career to. Therefore I […]
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9:16 PM | Jennifer Lawrence and the Sins of Animal House
Remember Animal House? The insane debauchery of John Belushi and his Delta brethren? That was some crazy, hilarious, make-a-Roman-emperor-blush behavior. I love that movie. Everyone does. Except you don’t remember Animal House. Not really. No other book, film, or TV show has done more to shape American higher education. But it’s not what you think it is. The difference between the Animal House of your imagination and the actual movie is a matter of cultural influence so profound and […]
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7:23 PM | In which we need more lab coats in the Commons
Like many commuters serving as a captive audience on the London Underground, I tend to read the free Evening Standard most nights. I enjoy the op ed pieces by Rosamund Urwin, who has always struck me as both light-hearted and … Continue reading →
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6:38 PM | Graduate positions available in Jeremy Fox’s lab for Fall 2015
You read my blog–want to join my lab? I’m currently seeking 2-3 graduate students (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) to start in Fall 2015. My own work addresses fundamental questions in population, community, and evolutionary ecology, through a combination of mathematical modeling … Continue reading →
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6:05 PM | Biggering
Preliminary course enrollment numbers are in.  Our new theory course, CS 125 (rapid introduction to theory), has 32 undergrads and 5 others, for an enrollment of 37.  Salil and I had predicted and desired in the 20-40 range for the first year of this course, so we're on target.  We hadn't thought about CS 125 being a class for grad students, but it actually makes sense.  Entering CS grad students who haven't had background in theory, or grad students from other related areas […]
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4:30 PM | Harvard Business School Does Occupy Wall Street
And this time not just, you know, by taking the good jobs on Wall Street. We’ve started to understand that inequality in America is becoming a serious problem for the economic heath of the country in general. Last month Standard & Poor’s warned that “extreme income inequality [was] a drag on long-run economic growth and the ratings organization “reduced our 10-year U.S. growth forecast to a 2.5% rate. We expected 2.8% five years ago.” According to a piece at […]
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4:25 PM | The “MANIAC” at Los Alamos National Laboratory One...
The “MANIAC” at Los Alamos National Laboratory One of the first computers, the name stood for Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator, And Computer.  Its creator, Nicholas Metropolis, named it in reaction to the long (sometimes absurd) acronyms that were used for these machines at the time.
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4:25 PM | THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM 2014: Thoughts of a Disenfranchised Scot
Originally posted on angiesallsorts:On September 18th 2014 the people of Scotland will vote in an election to decide whether to declare independence from the United Kingdom and the Westminster Parliament. Those eligible to vote are aged sixteen and above with a residential address within Scotland, who have lived there long enough to get on…
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1:33 PM | Crowdfunding brings clubfoot treatment to children in the developing world
  This Mendeley guest post talks about how a crowdfunding campaign is bringing an innovative research design from Stanford University to children in developing countries struggling with clubfoot. By Janeen B. Gingrich, MSW, Associate Director of Philanthropy, miraclefeet When I first heard about miraclefeet and clubfoot, I felt compelled to get involved. I had done […]
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1:00 PM | This Is What Science Looks Like at NC State: Erin Seekamp
Erin Seekamp discusses her work as a social scientist studying communities' ability to respond to climate change.
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7:29 AM | Eureka Awards
Last night, I was at the Eureka Awards Dinner. The Eureka Awards have been described as the Australian Science equivalent of the Oscars. While not quite as glamorous as the Oscars, it was nevertheless a black tie event at the Sydney Town Hall, and we did have some media celebrities present, such as Adam Spencer and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki. It was also the second top hottest topic on Twitter yesterday in Australia.I was not nominated for an Award, but was there to fly the flag for Macquarie […]
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2:58 AM | Indigo V and Citizen Oceanography
Martin has beaten me to it and already put up a blog post about the Indigo V expedition and our paper in PLoS Biology. I just have a couple of things to add. Martin and Federico were interviewed on ABC radio on Wednesday morning, here is a link for anyone who wants to listen or read the transcript. I like Martin's line- "Every second breath we take the oxygen is being produced by microbes in the ocean.Also, I wanted to highlight the beautiful photo from the Indigo V expedition, taken by Rachel […]
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1:00 AM | You Can Rename My Family for.....
An interesting article in today's Crimson about the background to the announcement that Harvard's School of Public Health will be re-named the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, for a $350 million donation.  Feel free to comment on your feelings regarding the issue.  (The Kennedy School of Government notwithstanding, Harvard schools have not been "named" via donations historically, although certainly buildings and such have.)  I'm not publicly taking sides -- indeed, it […]

September 10, 2014

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11:00 PM | The New Maryland Football Uniforms Seem to Have Been Designed by an Old Lady History Teacher
There’s a lot of really bad news coming out about football lately. We don’t really need to be reminded of that, do we? But at long last we’ve got something to restore our faith in the glory of the good old American sport. And this time it’s not just a good game or a wholesome player. According to an article in the Washington Post, the University of Maryland has introduced its new special uniform: Maryland, which… announced a 10-year partnership extension with […]
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5:32 PM | "When we talk about basic research, we are not talking about finding a cure for malaria. We are..."
“When we talk about basic research, we are not talking about finding a cure for malaria. We are talking about exploring the chemistry and physiology that underlie how mosquitoes smell. In time, this may lead to scientific pathways that allow us to outwit mosquitoes and save millions of lives.” - University of California President Janet Napolitano urging the nation’s leaders to increase government funding for basic research. Listen to her talk here →
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3:49 PM | Apple Does 3D Cell Culture
Andrew Pelling has a new application for the apple, but it is not the latest i-gizmo from Cupertino, CA. Pelling and colleagues at the University of Ottawa have come up with a possible solution to the limitations of traditional, two-dimensional (2D) cell culture, which does not reproduce the microenvironment and tissue architecture that surrounds cells in a living organism—the apple, the one-a-day fruit that keeps the doctor away and is an essential ingredient to the All-American […]

Modulevsky DJ, Lefebvre C, Haase K, Al-Rekabi Z & Pelling AE (2014). Apple derived cellulose scaffolds for 3D mammalian cell culture., PloS one, 9 (5) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24842603

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