Thursday, June 17, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Edward Tufte kills kittens...

Bruce forwarded this to me. If you don't get it then you must take CS105 - Research Presentation before you graduate. Or the kittens will die.....

(Original at Mark Goetz blog)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Midterm answer and job opportunity

Ecology 'midterm' answers, plus a few comments, are here. (If you need the midterm itself it is here).

Here's one more job opportunity for the summer if any of you are looking for gainful employment.

The Valentine Lab of the Earth Science Dept. and Marine Science Institutute at UCSB is seeking an undergraduate assistant for summer 2010. This student will aid in field collection and organization of marine water samples and related equipment as part of our seeps-related research into the methane budget for the waters of the Santa Barbara Basin. Additional laboratory experience will be gained as well. Experience with working aboard UCSB's small watercraft is a plus (but not required). The stipend for this position will be approx $12.50/hr at 20-40 hrs a week - taking summer school is ok but ability to work all day on Tuesdays is important. Those interested please contact Frank Kinnaman at for more information.

oh yes, I almost forgot...

And to end the quarter on the best note possible, the newest (and great) xkcd comic:

Summer Reading

That title sounds painful, I know (and I apologize). So as we all depart for our homes, our vacations or our labs for summer research, I thought I'd bring up a book I think we could all take the time to read. I feel like during the school year I miss a lot of reading time because I'm so wrapped up in coursework, but really, the majority of learning for me comes from independent research.
George C. Williams' "Adaptation and Natural Selection" is the perfect summer book because it's relatively short (although dense) and really beautifully covers a lot of the evolutionary themes we have discussed throughout the year. I've noticed that in class a lot of questions have arisen as to why organisms have or have not evolved specific traits. Within the first 25 pages of the book Williams well addresses these issues and I think its worth a read for all of us.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Banana treats for everyone

Aha, it turns out that if you want to get the tax deduction you don't have to pick a particular rat when you make a donation to HeroRats. I'm not sure I could cope with the choice and the responsibility.

These rats amaze me. It's like they have single handedly decided to change the public perception of rats. Not only do they help clear landmines but now they detect TB and cancer! As Brandon pointed out, the only thing left is for them to fight crime at night. Perhaps they do.

So probably for less than the cost of buying pizza for the class everyone is getting banana treats. And by everyone I mean the rats.

Thanks for a great quarter. Have a good summer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

National Running Day

Who knew? Apparently today is National Running Day. Go run somewhere. Ellwood Mesa is my favorite spot.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cowbirds in Love

I just discovered this comic. Cowbirds in Love is a daily comic about sad things, happy things, science, philosophy and occasionally obligate brood parasitism. Not quite as nerdy as xkcd it has a similar poorly drawn charm - complete with occasional biology.

As someone who actually does have a strong opinion about the difference between geeks and nerds I was especially amused by yesterday's xkcd comic.

Wrapping it up

Well, I'm almost done here. Although this blog will go into diapause shortly it will be back in the Fall (for a new round of the Bio Colloquium) and then in the Winter and Spring for Intro Bio again. PLEASE post here if you have items you think other bio students would be interested in: interesting seminars, lab opportunities, grant opportunities, research etc. OR just send items to me and I'll post them.

In the last couple of classes we've mentioned the leading causes of death in the US a couple of times: Heart disease, Cancer, Strokes and Chronic lower respiratory diseases. What is amazing is how much this has changed over just a single generation. Can you guess the top four causes of death in the US in the years right before World War II, ie before the invention of antibiotics?

Tuberculosis, pneumonia, cancer and syphilis.

Hence this poster from The American Social Hygiene Association on the dangers of autoriding. Syphilis may no longer be a death sentence but guys who look like this are probably still best avoided - especially if they take you autoriding and try to take liberties with you.

I teach a class on the Ecology of Disease (EEMB40) in the Winter quarter if any of you are interested. It's a lower division class that focuses on the changing ecology that has led to changing patterns of infectious disease in human populations.

Oh go on, here's another one that's probably even more sexist. 'A girl who would yield to one man has probably had relations with another. Very likely she is diseased.' As opposed to the 'wise guy' on the right who even seems to have visible symptoms of syphilis (or maybe just a poorly drawn face).