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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Field Herpetology at The Southwest Research Station (Part 3)

I had a fantastic time teaching at the Southwestern Research Station’s Field Herpetology course this year. We returned to Ohio on Wednesday and definitely needed a couple of days to recover from eight straight days of hiking, teaching, and chasing after reptiles/amphibians. I had a few more pictures of animals and class activities, so we needed a part three to finish things up. Last beautiful day at the research station: The students had an awesome time catching Sonora Mud Turtles (Kinosternon sonoriense) with Dr. Justin Congdon, Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia. He’s about the coolest guy you could […]

Field Herpetology at the Southwest Research Station (Part 1)

We are three days through the 2013 Field Herpetology course at the Southwest Research Station. Whew, what a whirlwind this course is for the second year in a row. We have students from all over the country: college students, retired doctors, government contractors, and environmental consultants. I’ve been busy tweeting some of our activities, but need a place to show you some of the photos of the class at work and the animals we are finding. So here ya go.A handsome Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus): Dr. Carol Simon gives a seminar on the natural history of the Chiricahua Mountains: My […]

What I’ve learned about outreach

This past week was the last week of the first Scifund Online Outreach Class, in which more than a hundred scientists and educators from around the world got together to improve their outreach skills. I was excited to participate in the class, and ended up enjoying it more than I ever expected. My former advisor, Stephen Richter, identifying stream insects with local biology teachers. Science outreach is loosely defined as any activity that raises the public’s awareness of science. Unfortunately, that definition is a little too simplified. The “public” are a bunch of people: kindergartners, moms/dads, police, politicians, and retirees sitting on […]

How do you make science interesting? Make it rhyme and drop a beat.

In general, it is very hard to get people to care about science. I don’t want to force a history major to change his degree to bioengineering. I don’t need a six year old to sign a contract detailing her commitment to being the next Nobel prize winner. I’m talking about just getting someone (anyone!) who isn’t already a scientist to recognize that science exists, science matters, and science can be cool. I watched this incredible video produced by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, and one point in particular stuck with me for the last week. Most of the […]

Columbus Public Schools Exceptional Science Fair

When I’m on campus, I’m often tied to a computer or a lab bench. While I love the work that I do, this can often get tedious, and many grad students can describe the malaise that sets in after months of working on a project. Sometimes it is difficult to remember the essence of why you love science in the first place. To remedy this and provide some service to the community, there is always science outreach that can be done. I really got interested in outreach work with my former advisor at Eastern Kentucky University Dr. Stephen Richter and […]