Rob Denton

Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology

What’s Going On in Science, September 2014

Why student evaluations of teaching are worthless “The paper compared the student evaluations of a particular professor to another measure of teacher quality: how those students performed in a subsequent course. In other words, if I have Dr. Muccio in Microeconomics I, what’s my grade next year in Macroeconomics II?Here’s what he found. The better the professors were, as measured by their students’ grades in later classes, the lower their ratings from students.” “This class should start an hour later in the morning. Also, theteacher shouldn’t wear sandals.” This NPR article summarizes a new study that tackles a problem that […]

First publication from SciFund support

The reason I started this blog two years ago was to connect to those who helped fund my science through the SciFund Challenge. Crowdfunding has come a long way, even since then, and I hope that my funders have been able to check back time and again to see how my PhD is progressing. However, after the t-shirts were sent and the thank-yous were written, I haven’t shown much about the salamander for for which I was so graciously supported by a group of science-loving citizens. One thing that is difficult to appreciate about science: it takes a long time. Creating new […]

Scenes from the OSU Museum of Biological Diversity Open House

Earlier this month, I was happy to again participate in the Ohio State Museum of Biological Diversity Open House, our department’s biggest outreach event. We had more than 2,200 visitors from all parts of Ohio and elsewhere. This year, Matt Holding and I teamed with two fantastic undergraduates who work in our lab (Meghan Parsley and Paul Hudson) to go even bigger than we did last year. Since this year’s theme was all about how scientists use technology to discover and classify biodiversity, we put together a booth that showed visitors how our lab uses technology across all aspects of […]

Who Works 80 Hours a Week in Academia?

Part of being a graduate student is working hard. Whispers of disappearing faculty positions and decreases in funding percentages are heard at most social gatherings. You have to be in the lab 80 hours per week to stay at the front. Right? In this really good blog post, Dr. Meghan Duffy (follow her on twitter here!) presents her argument for why the myth of the 80 hours/week = success equation is pretty silly.  When I read Dr. Duffy’s post a few weeks ago, I had already been intensely thinking about the way I work for about a month. After reaching […]

TANK

As if he were making art just for my interests, Nate Milton presents this animated short film, “TANK”. This beauty is well worth nine minutes of your life, especially if you were anything like me growing up: chasing creepy crawly creatures and playing junior naturalist. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that has so accurately tapped into the magical feelings that surround connecting with the natural world as a child, feelings that certainly still resonate with me as an adult.This film was the results of a successful Kickstarter campaign and you can see more behind-the-scenes videos/photos on Mr. Milton’s production […]

Science links: Science Studio educates, entertains, and inspires

Whew, I’ve been away from the blog for a bit while I finished my PhD candidacy. Now that I’ve been deemed a competent scientist by my senior colleagues, I have a backlog of blog posts to get to. I’m going to start by pointing you towards Science Studio, a collection of the best science multimedia on the web. This idea comes from Rose Eveleth and Ben Lillie, who are two people behind the equally excellent podcast Story Collider.  So, why is Science Studio cool? Well, finding really good science media isn’t easy. Unfortunately, the best and most effective science multimedia isn’t […]

Data or Art?

“Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance III” (1952) by Ellsworth Kelly I stumbled upon this really neat post on Jim Davenport‘s blog, If We Assume: Data or Art?Us scientists now have so many tools at our disposal to visualize data in new and interesting ways. While box and whisker plots may never go out of style, check out some of the sites below to find fascinating graphs, plots, charts, and more. From Gong et al. (2011) PNAS Wired magazine: Data as Art: 10 Striking Science MapsThe sub-reddit “Data is Beautiful” This all-time classic talk from Hans Rosling, “Stats that reshape your worldview”Information […]

Get to Know a (Former) Grad Student: Dr. Ana Jimenez

With this post, I’m continuing the “Get to Know a Grad Student” series, an effort to showcase the lives of real scientists. After interviewing a few graduate students, I thought it would be nice to hear from someone who has crossed the PhD boundary into the wild blue yonder.  Dr. Ana Jimenez is a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Joe Williams’ lab here in the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology Department at Ohio State. Ana has been my teacher and biggest supporter in the impossible task of getting salamander cells to grow in the lab. She is also my designated dog […]

Chased by a Robot Cheetah

Charismatic animal? Check.Neat gadgets? Check.A revealing look into something previously un-observable? Check.Oh boy, we’ve got ourselves a Nature paper brewing. Credit to Martin Heigan (left) and Richard Ashurst (right) A study published in the journal Nature led by Dr. Alan Wilson shines a light on why the way cheetahs move is so interesting. By using collars with some very fancy devices that measure how the animals change speed and direction, the research team showed that even though cheetahs are the fastest land animal on Earth, their ability to stop is what really catches dinner.The collared cheetahs displayed some of the […]

Beer as a Metaphor for Biodiversity

Check out this great video from MinuteEarth that compares the dynamics of plant communities to the economics of beer. Sounds strange at first, but ends up being a great way to explain the importance of biodiversity to an economics major who is taking there required biology course. Check it out: Make sure to take a look at MinuteEarth’s other videos on youtube and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.