Saturday, January 5, 2013

Goodbye ETB, hello new blog

I've started a new blog, a little more geophysics-y, a little less anonymous.

The plan:
Mondays: Geophysics Problem of the Week
Tuesdays: Notes from the Literature
Wednesdays: Notes from the Lab
Thursdays: Free-Format or break
Fridays: Solutions to Geophysics Problem of the Week
Weekend: Friday Night Dinner Report

Please join the fun!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Plan to Shift Formats

Motivated by my own ambivalence about keeping an anonymous blog, and spurred on by recent posts in SpotOn London from two of my blogosphere heroines Female Science Professor and Athene Donald I have decided to discontinue this EarlyToBed Blog and switch to a signed format, linked to my twitter account @mineralphys.

I am looking forward to the accountability of a signed blog, and am hoping that less anonymity will encourage more back-and-forth discussion with readers.

I will post a link here when my first post is launched.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The day I became my grandparents

I woke up with bunions and put on stockings and chunky ill-fitting shoes. Did yoga and flipped through Prevention magazine. Took suggested supplements, especially vitamin E. Spritzed with White Linen. Stuck tissues in my sleeves, and went to the hairdresser. She did an awful job on the blow-dry, but I’ll manage. Sent this week’s batch of birthday and anniversary cards. Went food shopping. Shoved extra plastic bags in my purse. Made apple cake, apple pie, roasted a chicken. Rolled out noodles. Rolled out mandelbrot. Rolled out rugelach. With cream cheese dough. With sour cream dough. Washed the car, got on a ladder and cleaned out the gutters. Cleaned the garage. Caught up with family and friends. Kvelled over good news, especially related to children’s academic achievement. Tsk-tsk-ed at all the bad news. Ate family dinner. Knit sweater. Listened to books on tape. Laughed at late night TV. Fell asleep to AM talk radio squealing in my ear.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writing Woes

I love designing and doing experiments. I love analyzing data. I love doing experiments and looking at data with students. I love deriving equations. I love teaching.

All of these parts of my job are easy and fun compared with the writing part. I don’t dislike writing, I just habitually procrastinate my writing because everything else is easier and feels like more fun. Fear of failure? Fear of success? Low-level attention disorder? Who knows. What I do find I need is practical advice and continual support and reinforcement.

I have much to say professionally: data to show, ideas to share, and papers to write. I still have a long way to go to be the academic writer I would like to be, but I’m much better than I used to be thanks to these two of my favorite resources for academic writers.

1. The writings of Robert Boice, the gentle godfather of all academic writers.

I recommend Advice for New Faculty Members for anyone who is or would like to be a professor, or for anyone who works in a multifaceted creative job. Boice stresses Nihil Nimus, meaning nothing in excess, or everything in moderation (I notice that Boice, like the Old Testament, prefers the negative formulation of commandments, e.g.  don't rush to writing, don't wait until you feel ready, don't neglect other priorities like rest, socializing and exercise )

For more of a detailed walk-through of a very practical behavioral therapy approach to academic writing, consider reading How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure.

2. The Academic Ladder Writing Clubs

Online writing clubs providing coached support for small groups of academic writers. Partially based on the philosophies and ideas of Boice, above.
There is a monthly feel. Consider asking your adviser/department chair/dean/chancellor to pay for your membership, as part of your professional development.

For free, here's a preview: Write in brief, daily sessions. Brief can be 15 minutes. Daily is important.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Invocations to precede decision-making for hiring scientists

Please grant me the serenity
To squarely face my own biases.
To recognize others’ strengths, even in areas where I lack that strength.
To accept others’ failings in the same way that I strive to accept my own.
To realize that there is more than one way to do good science.
And that my way is not necessarily the only way.
Please grant me the serenity
To recognize accomplishments
And to recognize potential in others.
Even though others might look very very very different from me

Speak out, Hallelujah!
When you hear a wrong, make it right!
When you hear bias, pick the fight!
Equality should not require riot!
But this is not the time for quiet!
Use your logic!
Mind your fears!
Support young colleagues!
And their careers!

Dear Gods of Science
Please forgive me
For I am biased.
It is not on purpose, for I bear no ill will towards any gender.
I might even be a girl (excuse me a woman) myself.
I’m just as biased as any man.
Because my brain is not very scientific.
(Except for when it is consciously trying to be)
For even though I am a scientist
I am human.
And though I serve the Gods of Science whilst I am awake
I am not always awake.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Skills for Scientists

Please drop a line if you have more to add!
Scientific knowledge base
Depth of knowledge in chosen subject area
Breadth of knowledge in general field, adjacent fields, scientific literacy

Approach-specific knowledge base
Laboratory, field, theoretical/modeling approaches

Quantitative skills
Setting up a problem
Back of the envelope calculations
            Basic computing--algebra
            More advanced computing—linear algebra/differential equations
Receptive communication skills
            Listening to seminars

Active communication skills
            Writing papers
            Writing proposals
            Writing “one-pagers”
            Designing Posters
            Presenting research
            Graphic design

Dynamic communication skills
            Reviewing papers/proposals
Poster sessions
            Working in pairs and/or groups

“fuzzy” skills
Creativity: coming up with new approaches
Curiosity: asking scientific questions
 Sense of scale of problem: How much detail is necessary?
Productivity: Getting things off the desk, though not necessarily perfect

Clich├ęd but useful:
“Eighty percent of success is showing up”            -Woody Allen
 “Don’t boil the ocean”

Science is (or should be) about play: playing with ideas, numbers, pictures, puzzles.
A good science course should introduce students to scientific puzzling—so that scientists can ultimately figure out their own puzzles and solve them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

List of Department Seminars in Geo* Field Part I

I started with the top part of the list of NRC rankings for geosciences, and am working my way through it.
If your department isn't listed here, it's either because I have not yet looked or the current seminar series is not published in an easily-accessed way.

7 men
3 women

12 men
1 woman

2 women
10 men

9 men
1 woman

12 Men
3 Women

2 women
6 men

3 women
4 women
6 men

13 men
1 woman

3 women
9 men

9 men
4 women

0 women
8 men

6 women
10 men
6 men
5 women
6 women
6 men

7 men
3 women

6 men
0 women