Monthly Archives: January 2018

There’s no such thing as “an unrelated genus”

 Image: Osmia rufa, André Karwath, CC BY-SA 2.5; Boletus edulis, Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 4.0; Volvocales, Aurora M. Nedelcu, CC BY 2.5; Chimp, Aaron Logan, CC BY 2.5; Ranunculus asiaticus, Leif Stridvall, CC BY-SA 2.5; Isotricha intestinalis, Agricultural Research Service/USDA CC 0; Compilation, Vojtěch Dostál, CC BY-SA 2.5.

 (My writing pet peeves, part 4)

There I was, at the physiotherapist, reading a new manuscript by a friend and collaborator to distract myself from the indignities being visiting on my calf.  There I was, thoroughly enjoying what I was learning, when I was brought up short by a construction that drives me up the wall:

“this species, therefore, cannot be not congeneric with A. jonesi.  Instead, it actually belongs to Ethereum, a similar but unrelated genus”.*

 I gasped.  Unrelated?  No two genera on Earth are “unrelated”.  There are closely related genera and distantly related ones, but because all life on Earth shares a common ancestor, there are no unrelated ones. Continue reading


“Guest-post SPAM” is a thing now

Image: SPAM-flavoured macadamia nuts (own work; CC BY 4.0).  Look, these nuts horrified me as much as they horrify you – but I have to admit, they were pretty good.

We’re all accustomed to fake-journal spam and fake-conference spam by now.  But I’ve started to get a new flavour of spam in my inbox: guest-post spam.

Here’s the thing: I’ve had some really nice guest posts on Scientist Sees Squirrel*, and I’d be happy to have some more.  Guest posts offer some different perspective, and the world certainly needs more than just mine.  But here’s the latest guest-post spam to come my way: Continue reading

Adventures in coauthorship networks: my Erdős number

Photo: Paul Erdős. (c) Topsy Kretts, CC BY 3.0

Warning: very nerdy.

 Sometimes I get distracted and go down a rabbithole.  Sometimes the result is fun.

I’ve been lucky, over my career, to have a large number of coauthors (some of whom are good friends; but many of whom I’ve never even met).  Coauthorhip makes my work better, but it has other benefits too.  A somewhat abstract one is that it makes me feel that I’m part of something larger than my own research program, or even my own discipline.  I belong (as we all do) to a global and cross-disciplinary network of collaborating scientists.  And to prove it, I have an Erdős numberContinue reading

Three years without an attention span

Photo: Eurasian red squirrel © Peter Trimming CC BY-SA 2.0

Warning: navel-gazing.

Today, Scientist Sees Squirrel is three years old.  This is somewhat startling to me, as is the fact that I’ve written about 240 posts on the blog.  In honour of this blogoversary, I went back and re-read my very first post: Does an academic need an attention span?  I was relieved to discover that, while it’s a little clunky, it doesn’t hold up too badly. Continue reading