A Hiatus of Sorts

There was a time when I aspired to post weekly, and then bi-weekly, maybe once a month, and now. . . very little. That’s not to say I haven’t been busy.  I’ve moved a lot of content over to a research website at http://goring.org, with a nice picture of the Wicked Witch of the East (that ought to be properly credited, I’ll fix that. . . ). I’ve also moved my social advocacy stuff to…

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Who is a Scientist – Reflections on #AAG2016

This is the first time I’ve really been to the American Association of Geographers meeting. Last year it was held in Chicago, which is really close to Madison, and I was invited to speak at a session called “The View from the Anthropocene” organized by two great Geographers from the University of Connecticut, Kate Johnson and Megan Hill, but I had the kids & really only spent the morning there.  I’m pretty sure there was…

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Semantics Shememantics

In science we work, more often than not, in teams.  Whether we work with one other individual, five individuals, or interact at workshops with hundreds of strangers, it’s important that we are clearly understood.  Clarity is critical, especially when explaining complex concepts.  KISS is my second favorite acronym, even if I can’t keep to the principle (NEFLIS, a camping acronym, is my favorite – No Excuse for Living in Squalor just because you’re out in…

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See you at #AGU2015

I’m heading to AGU early this year, part of the Neotoma Annual Meeting at Berkeley.  We’ve recently been awarded an NSF EarthCube Integrated Activities award to harmonize Neotoma and the Paleobiology Database (and other allied paleobiological archives), but we’ve also made some big gains in working with allied Plio-Pleistocene databases and researchers across the globe in adding to Neotoma’s already considerable data holdings. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Neotoma meeting. One very exciting development is our partnership…

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The interdisciplinary study of organic walled microfossils: A ramble.

Figure 1. That’s really a lot of pollen. A lot of pollen. Image by Brooke Novak It’s no secret to members of the Canadian Association of Palynologists (join now!) that the study of organic-walled microfossils is the most interesting branch of science, but it may come as a surprise to some of our colleagues. The thing is, our colleagues all have their own opinions. If they’re in biology departments they probably like bears; geology, they…

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Helping to fill the cloud from the bottom up.

Open data in the sciences is an aspirational goal, and one that I wholeheartedly agree with. The efforts of EarthCube (among others) to build an infrastructure of tools to help facilitate data curation and discovery in the Earth Sciences have been fundamental in moving this discussion forward in the geosciences, and at the most recent ESA meeting saw the development of a new section of the society dedicated to Open Science. One of the big…

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People, climate, fire. The Future meets the Past, and decides it wants to do its own thing.

I’ve been very lucky to work with great co-authors over the past few years, and this year is no exception. Along with a raft of papers we are about to submit I just got notified that a paper we submitted a few months ago is now online in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers (journal title chosen in the pre-Twitter age, obv.). This paper, with Megan Walsh, Jenn Marlon, Dan Gavin and Kendrick…

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ESA 2015 – On the way to a new century!

I’m involved in a Plenary Workshop this year, organized by some great folks at UNC-Chapel Hill.  I’m privileged to have been asked by these students, al of whom are currently Ph.D candidates.  They’ve taken a great idea and turned it into something that will be an excellent Plenary Session, with some (hopefully) long lasting impact.  Given the subject (the future of interdisciplinary ecology) it’s also perfectly well suited to the centennial ESA meeting.  They’ve just…

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Explorations in outreach – Creating a Twitter bot for the Neotoma Paleoecological Database.

If you’ve ever been in doubt about whether you chose the right programming language to learn I want to lay those concerns to rest here. For many scientists, particularly in Biology or the Earth Sciences, there is often a question about whether you should be learning R, Python, Matlab or something else.  Especially when you’re coming into scientific programming in grad school with little prior experience this might seem like a daunting proposal.  You already…

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The long tail of under-representation

I am by no means an expert on the subject of under-representation in the sciences.  There are some excellent academic bloggers who have done some great work in discussing issues around race and gender in academia.  This post is intended to highlight what I’ve observed and experienced over the past year or so, with a specific observation surrounding the EarthCube Early Career Travel Grant. The issue of diversity is tricky in academia, because diversity means different…

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