Summer Reading List

For the first time in years, I’m making an effort to read some books for fun this summer.  I even made a list! There’s a theme, though – I might throw in a mystery novel for good measure.

  1. The Gene: an Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee.  This book, by the author of The Emperor of all Maladies (which I wrote a bit about in an earlier post), is a detailed history of genes – from initial theories to current events. image from Google Books.
  2. Inventing the Mathematician: Gender, Race, and Our Cultural Understanding of Mathematics by Sara N. Hottinger.  The author is a professor of Women’s and Gender Studies.  I first of her book after reading her piece on the Inside Higher Ed blog, where she described why she decided to pursue a degree in feminist studies despite her passion and aptitude for mathematics. inventingbook
  3. The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World by Scott Hartley.  The author is a venture capitalist who writes about a new generation of entrepreneurs with a mix of STEM and liberal arts training.  fuzzy

 

Congratulations Seniors

It’s been a long while since I posted, so I figured it’s appropriate to resume this blog by congratulating all the seniors at Reed who have labored over their theses throughout the year.  Now, they will ceremoniously burn all their drafts this afternoon at the bonfire.  Happy Renn Fayre!

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Spotted outside my office door in the Biology building.

Ready, Set, Year Two

I have returned from summer break to begin teaching a new course this fall.  My break  included a hiatus in blog posts; now that classes have started up, I’m back to writing them.  Other lessons from my first true “summer break:”

  1. Yep, I still love research. Summer was a refreshing change of pace, where I was able to chip away at existing research projects and establish new collaborations here in Portland.
  2. Pacific Northwest summer weather is great.  No humidity + few bugs. I didn’t think that was possible.
  3. Feelings of preparedness are relative.  Despite having a year under my belt, there are enough new tasks and responsibilities that I still feel like a newbie.

Happy back-to-school for those who live by the academic calendar, and welcome to the Reed Class of 2020.

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The Class of 2020 at Reed College’s Convocation.  Photo by Leah Nash.

 

Spotted in the Lab

This is the last week of classes.  Reed seniors are finalizing their theses — a culmination of their year-long projects — before sending them off to faculty readers.  As we near the end, my computational biology lab has a new round of students working night and day.  Don’t worry, though – Monty the Motivation Whale is there for you.

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Monty’s appearance might be due to the fact that one of the Reed seniors is a lead scientist at the Orca Behavior Institute, a non-profit he started in 2015.

Spotted in the Lab

Portland is known for being a rainy city, and this winter was no exception.  Last week had the first truly sunny and warm day, hinting at spring’s arrival.

Today I hung out in my computer lab as dozens of high school students toured the Physics, Chemistry, and Biology Departments during the Junior Visit Day. As I readied the lab for the rounds of visitors, I noticed a new drawing on the whiteboard.

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I could not agree more.

Guest Post: What Is Happening With Tenure In Madison?

Some thoughts about Madison’s tenure issue.

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J Doe is a [something ranked] Professor in STEM. S/he chooses to write this post anonymously, in part to make a point about the value of tenure and the protection it affords faculty from becoming political targets.  

Many of us in Madison are getting questions about what is happening with tenure, and the national media hasn’t adequately captured the reasons why there is a controversy. Cathy asked me if I could provide some insight, which I will do sort of “politifact” style. I choose to do so anonymously, in part to make a point about the value of tenure and the protection it affords faculty from becoming political targets.

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CLAIM: What is happening in Wisconsin is the end of tenure as we know it.

RATING: Maybe

FACT: The authority to define the terms of tenure is being moved from state law to the Board of…

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