Queering one’s science (and more languishing ideas)

Last week I had a fantastic chat with the Queer Science discussion group based at Memorial University of Newfoundland, which is also where I happened to do my PhD. One of the perennial questions when I talk about being an out scientist is how the LGBTQ+ side influences the science side, and vice versa. As someone not particularly versed in sociology, queer theory, or feminist studies, I lack the terminology and background to put my…

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Prioritizing the flood of ideas

If you’ve been involved in research for more than a couple of years, chances are you quite quickly start to accumulate a list, even if only in your mind, of Things It Would Be Neat To Do. These could be things that you identify as gaps while pursuing your main research theme, or ideas that spark out of a paper you happened to leaf through while waiting for a meeting to start. And typically starting…

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2018 goals

I’ve already done 2017 by the numbers, and inspired by Auriel Fournier, here are some goals for 2018, in no particular order…   Get two long-languishing papers submitted. One is from my postdoc (and formed a pretty bit part of it), and the other is a long-standing collaboration that just needs some dedicated attention. I’m reminded of this lovely cartoon. Kick-start my own research again. This may sound silly, but when I worked for the…

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2017 by the numbers

Read previous years’ By the Numbers: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013   12 The number of new posts this year. Definitely a low, but some classics remain popular. The top 10: Personal academic websites for faculty & grad students: the why, what, and how How did we learn that birds migrate (and not to the moon)? A stab in the dark Beware the academic hipster (or, use what works for you) UPDATED Volunteer field techs are…

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FAQ, and answers thereto (Christmas 2017 edition)

The latest summary of amusing search terms (and some often facetious answers) that brought people to The Lab and Field in 2017. Find previous iterations here.   Who are scientists We all are!   how do people learn about migratory birds Blog posts, ornithology classes, naturalist societies, spear-throwing competitions…   data error in published paper *clutches pearls* SURELY NOT!. Eh, it happens. Most of the time it’s not intentional.   easy scientific names for lab Repetition…

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How much to charge for independent consulting work

A significant non-zero number of scientists do additional paid work on top of their day job in the form of consulting, or being paid for their expertise by someone other than their main employer (a university or research organization, for example). This inevitably leads to the question of how much a given service/task will cost, and as a the usual outcome is an under-estimate on the part of the would-be consultant. As someone who’s done…

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On generality, centrism, and science blogging

There has been much discussion in the last decade about how to better prepare graduate students for jobs outside the research-driven ivory tower, so called “alternative academic” or “altac” jobs, for example those in corporate, government, or NGO organizations to name just a few. And I think it’s generally recognized that not every graduate student defending their thesis or dissertation, and passing their oral exam or viva will end up a tenured research professor. Which…

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A new adventure

When I first visited the American Museum of Natural History during my PhD, I was amazed at many things. The room of extinct specimens, the diversity of species represented, the wide array of collections (skins, skeletons, eggs, nests, fluid-preserved, mounts), and the fact that friendly curators basically let me loose in the rooms and I could explore. All for free. It was transformative. Years later as a postdoc, I visited yet more large museums (the…

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On the loss of a friend

Earlier this week, Terry Wheeler passed away. Terry taught at McGill, and was curator of the Lyman Entomological Museum. He was a fantastic naturalist, praised the role of museums and natural history in modern science, and was generally quite a lot of fun. About 10 months ago, he was diagnosed with fairly aggressive brain cancer, which eventually took him from us. Terry was what I would call an Exceptionally Very Good Person. Over the years…

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So you want to “do something about/for diversity”

In the last several months/years, I’ve seen an increasing number of “diversity initiatives”, and attention paid to issues of diversity in STEM fields. Which is, on the whole, good. But as a member of a minority community, these can often come across as botched jobs. Scientists are good at science, but not necessarily (or one might say not at all good) at sociology and psychology. And it’s become tiring. Here, dear reader, is a handy,…

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