Monday, July 31, 2006
I promised myself I wouldn't post this until I'd finished reading a journal article this morning, but it's been a bit of a distraction...as it has been for many days now.
I'll share more as the weeks (and the belly) progress, but for now Paper 3 must receive more attention.
Friday, July 28, 2006
There is an editorial, in yesterday's New York Times, by Peter Doran, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In the editorial, he chronicles how a 2002 Nature paper, for which he was the lead author, that showed a cooling trend for parts of Antartica has been repeatedly misused and distorted by the media and climate warming doubters.
"...many news and opinion writers linked our study with another bit of polar research published that month, in Science, showing that part of Antarctica's ice sheet had been thickening and erroneously concluded that the earth was not warming at all. "Scientific findings run counter to theory of global warming," said a headline on an editorial in The San Diego Union-Tribune. ...
"In a rebuttal... the lead author of the Science paper and I explained that our studies offered no evidence that the earth was cooling. But the misinterpretation had already become legend, and in the four and half years since, it has only grown.
"Our results have been misused as "evidence" against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel "State of Fear" and by Ann Coulter in her latest book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism." Search my name on the Web, and you will find pages of links to everything from climate discussion groups to Senate policy committee documents - all citing my 2002 study as reason to doubt that the earth is warming. ...
Our study did find that 58 percent of Antarctica cooled from 1966 to 2000. But during that period, the rest of the continent was warming. And climate models created since our paper was published have suggested a link between the lack of significant warming in Antarctica and the ozone hole over that continent. These models, conspicuously missing from the warming-skeptic literature, suggest that as the ozone hole heals - thanks to worldwide bans on ozone-destroying chemicals - all of Antarctica is likely to warm with the rest of the planet. An inconvenient truth?...
In the meantime, I would like to remove my name from the list of scientists who dispute global warming. I know my coauthors would as well." [bold emphasis added]
This seems like a good example of the challenges that scientists face in communicating their results to the public. Journalists may take a particular result and pull it out of context of the rest of the paper and the rest of our accumulated knowledge on the subject. Commentators (opinionators) may distort the findings even further. And what's a scientist to do when this happens? Write a New York Times editorial, I guess. But somehow I doubt that those who misrepresented (unintentionally or deliberately) Doran's original findings, will pay much attention now.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Two other good posts from Zuska to take a look at: Geek Gorgeous versus Sexy Science and Women should boycott Fermilab. I particularly got a smile out of Zuska's (all caps) declaration: "No woman should have to go to work and find jock straps in her mailbox." One possible exception: a female coach of a male athletic team?
Not really women in science, but there is a recent editorial in the Washington Post about being a grad student and a single mom and how graduate education is out of reach of people from low income backgrounds. (Hat tip to Bitch, Ph.D. on this one.) See also the discussion over at Janet's (sometimes I think I should just put a permanent forward over to her page).
Now for some science, but not women. Miss Prism argues that few scientists are bad communicators, we're just incredibly hampered by the constraints put on us by journals. Miss Prism, I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. I've seen some really atrocious writing both pre-submission and published that has nothing to do with the conventions of science...it's just bad. (Writer Chica, what do you think?)
Female science professor relays how she and her husband managed the two body problem. If you don't know, the two body problem is the conundrum of a dual-academic couples, sometimes in the same field, sometimes not, that both want to have TT jobs.
Continuing on the personal confessional front, Janet has spent the week relaying the saga of her back-to-back PhDs, telling her advisor she was pregnant, having her elder offspring while dissertating, and looking for jobs with two children in tow. She finishes out the series by musing on the meaning of "a life" (outside of academia).
Outside of the blog world, Australian Females in Information Technology and Telecommunications (FITT) has 800 members working to promote awareness of women in IT, and to encourage more women into the field and more girls to continue their maths studies.
Finally, I thought I could profile one female science blogger each issue of the update: This week's profilee: Nuthatch at Bootstrap Analysis. Nuthatch is an urban ecologist and birder in the Detroit area. She's blogged about urban prairies, where whole blocks of houses disappear and grasses return. She also has an (ir)regular Sunday times feature, where she highlights recent scientific findings and gives her readers some extra context. Other regular topics include birds, indoor cats, gardening organically, and an occasional book review or meme.
Got any suggestions for the next women in science update? Send them my way.
- Winning a big science award in high school (launched me on the science track and gave a huge ego boost at a critical time)
- Graduating from college (graduation day itself was so-so but just knowing I survived counts for a lot)
- The mistakes I made in pursuing my M.S. (which taught me a lot about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it) (specifically, the time I spent soul-searching while I was in the field)
- Getting my PhD fellowship
- Getting this paper accepted
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
This week's box contains twice as many veggies as last week (since S is out of town). We are going to have to make a concerted effort to get through it all.
- Swiss Chard
- Purple Haze Carrots
- Purple Potatoes
- Candy Onion
- Summer Squash
- Asian Eggplant
- Green Beans
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Other than blowing the money on books/journals, I'll never read, does anyone have any suggestions?
Monday, July 24, 2006
- Starting off light, PhD comics has a particularly funny strip today on the lab hazard rating system. I think my lab group is fairly non-toxic. I'd rank us about 1-0-1-VOR. (You'll just have to read the strip.
- Dr. B. has a post on the "boy acheivement gap." Some of her thoughts mirror my unarticulated musings.
- Bootstrap Analysis is commenting on the HPV vaccine and how the idea that vaccination (in general) should be a personal choice not only imparts risks to the individual, but also to society.
- And ending light, Sheepish has a great taxonomy of graduate committee members.
It seems like "His Dark Materials" took an early and sustained lead in the polls. So I went out and bought the first two books in the trilogy at my locally-owned used bookstore. (They were out of the third volume.)
It's funny to be embarking on another young adult sci-fi/fantasy book series. As a kid, I loved Madeleine L'Engle books (although I remember thinking that some of her stuff was rather strange), and the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper (which I reread and enjoyed a couple of years ago.) As an adult, I've adored Tolkien's Ring trilogy and the Harry Potter books.
But I never embraced the adult sci-fi/fantasy genre. In middle school and high school as some of my friends moved into that realm, I turned to 20th century classics, particularly those with a utopia/dystopia theme (1984, brave new world...). Just looking at the covers of the sci-fi/fantasy paper backs (with alien creatures that looked like giant ants, etc.) was enough to convince me that I didn't want to read them. The fantasy readers that I knew were also some of the social outcasts in our school and reading the books seemed to be synomous with playing D&D to all hours of the night. Though I had a few good friends (my best friend) who fit into that mold, I stayed on the outside of it. I've also not gone out of my way to see sci-fi/fantasy movies.
So I don't know whether I will like these books you've picked for me. It seems like a large number of perfectly reasonable and normal adults are fans of the genre, and especially of the books. Maybe it's time for me to banish the stereotype of pallid role-playing teenagers for once and for all and embrace my inner escapist. I'll let you know how it goes.
Friday, July 21, 2006
First off, let me say, that I did take the liberty of deleting a few comments - but nothing with substance. In the future, I'd suggest that if you need to go the bathroom, that you should get up from your computer and do so, rather than leaving a comment on my blog. Also, I don't read gibberish.
Comment: what are you specialized in?
Response: I study -ology, which is one of the natural sciences. My subspecialties are thing1 and thing2 although sometimes I get dragged into thing3. I'm not particularly concerned about the career reprecussions of this blog, but admitting to being the a scholar on rollerblading theory (thanks, B*) seems to be inviting un-needed attention.
Comment: ...wondering, what do you believe in?
Response: I believe that women and men are equal. I believe that for centuries our society has favored men's professional aspirations while supressing those of women. I believe that the 35 years since the passage of Title 9 has not evened the playing field for women in science and in academia.
Comment: why a blog only for scientist -women?.You have other talents and if also you leed outside other things of life and other persons,including men.
Response: Blogging about the woman-scientist part of my life is what I mainly choose to share in this venue. I do have a life (sometimes) outside of this role. When I started this blog, I was feeling particularly isolated (apparently a common feeling), and started this blog as both an outlet and a tool to find support (and I have!).
Comment: "Also, are women really at prime reproductive age when they're starting tenure-track positions?...I mean, most postdocs don't even get decent health insurance, and would have a very hard time paying for child care, etc. I think if we could support postdocs more as they try to start families, we'd have less of an impact on tenure-seeking women."
Response: Good point. If you proceeded diligently from undergraduate to MS to PhD, and got out in a commendable number of years, you would be ~28. If you had 1-2 years of post-doc time and then landed a t-t position, you would already be 30. That's a great age to have your first kid, but plenty of women would like to have them earlier. And that's not even considering if you had taken a less rigid route to your Ph.D. I agree that more support for post-docs and especially graduate students who want to have children might mitigate some of the baby-boom on the t-t and post-tenure.
Comment: why do you think being a natural scientist is different than being a socia scientist (I am neither, or both, well, I think it is all the same and one in the end). But I am doing my phd on a social science project now, and I do not understand the difference at all?
Response: This is a really interesting question. In my mind, the natural sciences encompass a different set of disciplines (those that primarily study non-human systems) than the social sciences (primarily studying human systems). Other than this is there a difference? We use many of the same methods (the scientific method, statistics, theory and empiricism). Maybe natural sciences use less qualitative data than social sciences. Fields like psychology seem to span both the natural and social sciences. What do my readers think?
Comment: I hope you don't find that I "sold-out" to teach. I find that helping today's young people learn the importance of science and critical thinking is also so important.
Response: Of course I don't think you sold out to teach. I completely agree with you, that's why I spent this week teaching MS/HS teachers. Teaching is an incredibly noble profession, I just don't have the temperment to do it full time.
Comment: Costco bookshelf? Looks like the solid oak one that I have.
Response: Nope, I got it at a locally owned furniture store (but it is solid oak). BusinessMan (my husband) and I try to support locally owned stores as much as possible, although we do have weaknesses.
Comment: how's the dog still surviving!
Response: Very well, thank you for asking. Although the heat this weekend is supposed to exceed 100 F, so she and I will probably be spending our time in the AC and in the water.
Finally, many of you posted links to your blogs or requested a link from this page. If you would like me to link to you, please continue to visit here and occasionally comment. If I start to recognize a name, I am more likely to take a look at your blog, and if I like it, you may gain not only a link but a reader.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
First up, Yami over at Green Gabbro has put out a call for women of STEMM to be interviewed for a new book.
"Written in accessible language rather than scholarly jargon, Where the Girls Aren’t will present a real picture of women in STEMM. The author will combine information gathered from research studies with actual women’s experiences. Interviewees will include both women who have become frustrated and left STEMM, as well as women who have made significant contributions to it. The author will also interview students of all ages, from elementary to graduate school, to learn what inspires and encourages them in STEMM–or why they would rather do anything else."Head over to the excellent, earth science/feminist Green Gabbro for full details.
For more discussion of the Barres' Nature article, check out Janet Stemwedel's Adventures in Ethics and Science. She's got a post titled: "Are we going to keep pretending women who want to do science and math aren't treated differently?" with at least 25 insightful comments. As a followup, she chronicles the tale from MIT where a prospective woman hire was allegedly intimidated by a star scientist. She turned down the job.
From a WSJ article (as reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Dr. Shirley Tilghman, molecular biologist, Princeton president and single mother of 2...
This is a lady I'd like to meet. There are some other good quotes in the article too. I don't read the WSJ on a regular basis, and maybe they are just following convention, but I'd like to see Tilghman titled as Dr. rather than Ms.
"WSJ: You once wrote that, "Tenure is no friend to women?" Why?
Ms. Tilghman: It comes at exactly the time when women who have gone through Ph.D. programs are most likely to be having children. So we extend the tenure clock a year for every child that you have while you're an assistant professor. (Princeton typically gives junior faculty six years to win a slot as a professor with lifetime job security.)
We do this in a gender-blind way. We think fathers should be taking time with small children, just as we believe mothers should be taking time with small children. We recently adapted that policy because we discovered that people were not taking advantage of the policy partly for fear that they would be perceived as asking for a benefit. So now we automatically extend the tenure clock. You don't ask for it. You get it."
For those interested in encouraging the next generation of women scientists, read about summer camps for girls in this profile from the University of St. Thomas.
"Our foundation supports programs like STEPS to influence young women and minorities to pursue career opportunities in manufacturing, science, engineering and technology. Studies show that young people make their scholastic career decisions around sixth or seventh grade and the camps give them an opportunity to explore their interests,” Aslin said. “The ultimate goal is to increase the number of students choosing these careers."In the program at St. Thomas, 160 girls are building RC model airplanes.
Finally, for those of you who cannot get enough of this stuff. I've got a few blogs to recommend, as the writers regularly talk about issues related to women and science. These are people who are not just talking about personal experiences, but trying to put them in a broader context. This list is arbitrary and I'm trying to keep it small, but feel free to add others in the comments.
- Red Onion
- Walla Walla Onion
- Italian Parsley
- Red Cabbage
Today's box was overflowing with deliciousness. If anyone has any suggestions for recipes using the ingredients above, please send them my way. So far we've got plans for the Eggplant and Walla Walla Onion.
Quick before the Blogger outage....
If you have just arrived, please read my welcome (next post down).
I am totally overwhelmed and amazed by the number of visitors (see figure) I've had over the past two days, and thank you for all of your wonderful comments. Please don't be offended if I don't respond to all of them personally... dissertations don't write themselves and I had no heads-up of becoming a "blog of note."
I've got some things I want to post later this evening (after blogger is back up), so check back soon.
If you think you are on my committee or you are a collaborator, please know that blogging does not diminish the number of hours I put in on my thesis. I've almost got my second chapter to its coauthors...just got write the figure captions and format Table 1.
Monday, July 17, 2006
For those visiting for the first time, here's a quick idea of what I'm about. I am a PhD candidate (defending in 2 months) in the natural sciences in the Pacific Northwest. My goal is to land a tenure-track position at a Research 1 (R1) university so that I can keep doing the things I love: research, teaching, and mentoring students. As the blog title states, I'm also a woman. Statistically, the chances are low for even the guys to succeed in R1 academia...maybe you've heard of publish or perish? Well, those statistics are even more dismal if you are a woman. Fortunately for me, I've had mostly good in experiences so far, starting with my mother, an amazing single mom woman science professor.
So this blog is a place for me to tell the stories of my life and the lessons I've learned as I navigate toward my goal. If I am doing my writing job well, hopefully those stories provide some measure of comfort, solidarity, or inspiration for other academic women and other aspiring scientists. I also like to share stories I run across in the news about women in science. One way I do this is through my sporadic women in science update, as the news warrants and my time permits. Sometimes I also write about topics related to communicating science, but that doesn't get as much of my time as I would like. One of my goals is to not let my work subsume everything else, so sometimes I write about trying to maintain "balance" or I comment on news stories of general interest to women. And like most people, I need fun too, so I definitely have my occasional fluffy moments.
If this profile sounds appealing, stick around. I try to post at least every other day, and some day this week, I'll be sharing some big news. (But please no public guessing).
Saturday, July 15, 2006
She asked for our grill. (With bonus Pup butt - she's probably going for the grease cup.)
I've got a great picture of our husbands leaning over the Chicas' old little tiny grill. From that same evening, there's a picture of me with a beer and wildly unkempt hair (I think we were in the process of moving). Good times have been had by the grill.
And she asked for our bookshelf. Well, here's the biggest one. I organize my shelves by subject (sort of), with knick-knacks and photo albums throughout. A quick tour: Top left: Reference books. Top R: Wedding photos. The framed picture is our engagement picture, turned sideways. Second L: Religion, anthologies, plus Nickel and Dimed apparently. Second R: Fiction I've been vaguely meaning to read. Third L: Recent aquisitions, feminist tomes. Third R: Science writing and such. Fourth L: Hiking and travel Guides. Fourth R: Series books (HP, Tolkien, Dark is Rising, mysteries). Fifth L: Science textbook(ish) and a binder full of recipes. Fifth R: Misc. Fiction. There's one more shelf at the bottom that's full of photo albums, magazines, and tall reference books. Plus we've got a 2nd shorter bookshelf in this room, plus the heaps by my bed. And lately, I've been giving away paperbacks when finishing them.
Finally for tonight's installment, I present my dinner. Chica asked for something yummy I made from my veggie box. Here's the pasta primavera that was one of the week's suggested recipes. It's got 2 zuchinis, 1 candy onion (or walla walla), ~5 carrots, 1 cl. garlic, ~1/4 # green beans, (supposed to have 3 tomatoes, but we were out), a bunch of fresh basil, olive oil, parmesean, and multi-grain pasta. The plastic container is because I am eating leftovers at my office (I'm a retail widow.)And now business man's shift is almost done, so I better finish the figure I am working on so that I can pack up and go home.
Despite the changes, it has taken more time than I had hoped to prepare for the session and the next few days promise to be very busy. I'm looking forward to interacting with the students, seeing how the new activities go, and giving others a second run through. Hopefully I can get some dissertation work done in the evenings too, but even if not, at least I'm getting $900 for less than 2 weeks work, including prep. And since it's not like I can take vacation/sick leave (does any grad student get this?), I'm basically being paid double. Which is very nice given that I won't have a paycheck between Aug 1 and Nov 1. But of course this isn't about the money, or about the CV line, it's about the experience, and hopefully teaching teachers the material in such a way that they can be excited about it and share that excitement with their students. Then we all win.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
- There's a commentary in Nature this week titled "Does gender matter?" "The suggestion that women are not advancing in science because of innate inability is being taken seriously by some high-profile academics. Ben A. Barres explains what is wrong with the hypothesis." It's an excellent read and I encourage you to do so (if you have access). But if you just want the salient points, read the summary over at propter doc's place.
- In case you want more anecdotal evidence, that women face biases in academia that have nothing to do with ability, check out the new blog on the block, Science+Professor+Woman=Me. In a recent post, she describes a search for a leadership position in which she was passed over and described as unqualified because she was too young, by a whole four months as compared to the sucessful male candidate. Isn't this exactly what Barres (above) and the InterAcademy Council report are talking about?
- Women have less confidence than men in their Internet savvy. "Women tend to rate themselves significantly less competent at navigating the Internet compared to how men rate themselves. But in reality, both sexes are equally skilled given similar experience and education levels, a new study finds." Is this a case of low female self-confidence or boys with over inflated tech egos?
- But in Vietnam, apparently, "women conquer the world of science"despite centuries of a patriarchal society. At least that's the official story.
- Finally, Irene Karl, a pioneering biochemist passed away recently in St. Louis.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
But on my dissertation schedule, I've fallen behind. Yesterday, I was supposed to finish the introduction and today and tomorrow I've got to do the figures and references. But, oh yeah, I've also got to finish prepping for next week.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Here's where I intend to spend more of my summer days sitting and relaxing. We just bought the furniture last weekend.
For brightstar, who requested a currently blooming flower in my neighborhood. This one is in my yard, but I have no idea what it is. Do you?
For astroprof who requested recent vacation pictures. I didn't take a lot of pictures, but this one was taken on a fun afternoon with volcanogirl.For astroprof, who also requested pet pictures. Here's the Princess Pup the way I see her when we are out for a walk. Bonus: BusinessMan's legs.For angry grad who requested a picture of a sample or my lab. I kind of modified the request since I couldn't figure out a way to take a picture of samples or lab without revealing what my -ology is, but I have previously mentioned that I do field work. So I posted a picture taken in the vicinity of my field area. Aren't you all jealous?
WriterChica - I will try to get to your requests in the next few days. The veggies and meal might take a little longer (our big meal plan this week got spoiled by gross bugs and stuff in the Napa cabbage).
For anyone else who hasn't put in a request, here's your chance. I'll take requests through the end of the day monday. And sometime later this week, many of these pictures may disappear.
This is a repost of a picture from a few months ago. But the general layout is the same, although the actual papers strewn about on the desk have changed now that I am working on a different chapter. Note the tea mug to the right of the computer. Now that it is summer, I am drinking less tea and more water. So my tea mug is farther to the right and my water bottle occupies it's former position.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Not surprisingly, the most popular science blogger by far is PZ Myers over at Pharyngula. He attributes his success to "tapping into the broader areas of liberal politics and atheism" and "resentment against the reactionary religious nature of American culture".
One of my favorite blogs that I don't read regularly, Real Climate, came in at #3. Blogger Gavin Schmidt asserts that their large readership is driven by "a hunger for raw but accessible information" that is more in-depth than the newspaper without being as technical as a peer-reviewed paper. Hey that's the reason that I read them when I get a chance.
In my humble opinion, being a popular science blogger takes a couple of ingredients:
- A conversational writing style that cuts through the jargon
- Posting regularly enough to generate consistent readership
- A science topic of general interest to the public (evolution, climate) or of avid interest to a specific group of amateurs (ornithology, anthropology, astronomy)
If you are curious, Nature also provides the Technorati rankings of the Top 50 science blogs (free access?). I am pleased to see many of my favorite bloggers among the list and I am honored to be among them (#41).
On a different note, it must make the Seed folks over at Scienceblogs pretty happy to claim two of the top 5 as their own. I wonder whether Seed overlooked the other top bloggers or whether the others were unwilling to give up their unique and easily findable domain names. I'd bet it was the latter.
Today's question: As regular readers of at least one science blog, what, in your opinion, makes a good science blog?
Thursday, July 06, 2006
'Cause the weekend isn't coming fast enough
'Cause I really should be working on the diss
So let me have your requests for any not too revealing, not too stalkery photos of my life you would like to see posted here.
It's kind of funny to get this finally settled on a day when I've had absolutely no time to work on my diss.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
I feel like this is my last bit of free time before the panic really kicks in about the dissertation. (It probably helps that the defense date isn't quite set.) I wish that I had about 4 more days to just loll about. I want to go hiking, camping, and swim in a mountain lake. I want to read a novel late into the night. But those will have to wait a few months until life after the PhD.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
After missing last month, I'm back to posting my monthly accomplishments and goals.
- Spent time with volcanogirl, singlegirl, and writer chica
- Spent 3 days in Midwest working on postdoc-related stuff
- designed and presented a poster at an east coast conference
- submitted revised paper to a prestigious journal
- dealt with editorial comments on conference proceedings paper
- worked on
paper the next
- got my field asst. going on summer field work
- finish draft of
and submit to co-authors by July 14 Paper2
- teach teachers for 3 days
- make substantial progress on Paper3 paper
- make decisions on which field sites to maintain
- stay healthy