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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

NPR and the progress of science crowdfunding

As I was on the way to work this morning, I heard NPR’s science reporter Joe Palka doing a story about a very familiar theme: scientific crowdfunding. The impetus for this blog was my crowdfunding campaign from last year’s SciFund challenge, and has been only one example of how crowdfunding has affected my scientific career. I’ve had much more practice explaining why my research is interesting and important. I’ve learned how to incorporate principles of marketing and design into the way I present my work to other scientists and the public. The coolest perk of all? It has to be […]