Sturgeon Quest: Why Exploratory Hypotheses Rock

By Emily Dolson on 7 July, 2015 in Productivity / 0 Comments
Sturgeon Quest: Why Exploratory Hypotheses Rock

The summer after I finished high school, I took a trip to the Pacific Northwest with my mom, aunt, and cousin. Our goal? To find a statue of William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) with a sturgeon. Along the way, we got to experience local culture, see the beautiful area, and have an all around great time. Which was, of course, our real goal. The sturgeon statue was just an excuse to look around, something to force us to actually engage with the area. Sometimes a hypothesis is the same way.

What is “Fitness”?

By Michael Wiser on 30 June, 2015 in Information / 0 Comments
What is “Fitness”?

One of the key concepts in evolution is fitness. You’ve probably even read something about how evolution is “survival of the fittest”. But what does that mean?   Like many terms, fitness has a specific meaning in science that’s somewhat different from what it means in everyday life.

Scientific Conferences Doing Gender Inclusivity Right – Part 1: Anti-Harassment Policies

By Emily Dolson on 23 June, 2015 in Information / 0 Comments
Scientific Conferences Doing Gender Inclusivity Right – Part 1: Anti-Harassment Policies

We spend a lot of time talking about problems with gender inclusivity at scientific conferences, and rightly so – things are unlikely to change if we don’t call attention to the problems. But it’s also important to recognize conferences that are doing a good job! So, I’d like to take this opportunity to do that. For the sake of this series of posts, I’m just going to focus on gender inclusivity, although obviously inclusivity towards all groups is also important. There are two easily measurable elements of  gender inclusivity: anti-harassment policies and speaker balance (if people have other ideas, I’d love to hear them!). Part one of this blog post series will deal with anti-harassment policies, while part two will deal with speaker balance. A third part may be forthcoming if I get enough ideas for alternative ways of judging […]

Public Goods Paper Round-Up

By Anya Vostinar on 16 June, 2015 in Review / 0 Comments
Public Goods Paper Round-Up

One of the nice things about summer is catching up on everything that got put to the side during the semester, right? It seems like reading literature is always one of the first things to go, so I’ve been spending some time reading a number of papers that I had set aside to be read “sometime” since they’ll definitely feature in a background section in my future. I’m quite interested in the evolution of cooperation, and one type of cooperative “game” is the production and use of public goods. A public good is a product that is useful to an organism, but is for some reason physically outside of the organism’s control and so must be shared with surrounding organisms. In the simplest systems, a “tragedy of the commons” scenario can occur in which organisms that don’t […]

3 Things I Learned from Software Carpentry Instructor Training

By Emily Dolson on 9 June, 2015 in Information / 0 Comments
3 Things I Learned from Software Carpentry Instructor Training

Recently, I and two other members of the Devolab had the opportunity to participate in an instructor training workshop for Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry. Software Carpentry is an organization that runs workshops aimed at helping scientists who can program a little improve their programming, while Data Carpentry is aimed at getting scientists with little to no programming experience started with data analysis beyond a spreadsheet. These workshops (including the instructor training) use an evidence-based, open-source teaching style that really appeals to me. Every time a pedagogical approach was mentioned, citations were provided to back it up. All of the lessons are maintained in github repositories, which everyone is encouraged to submit pull requests to (doing so is even a requirement for becoming an instructor!).