Monthly Archives: March 2018

Magnolia, Magnol, and cascades of naming

Image: Magnolia blossoms CC0 via pixabay.com.

Warning: trivial and nerdy.

Just now I’ve learned that there used to be a football team – part of the Women’s Football Association, in the USA – called the Birmingham Steel Magnolias.  This delights me for nerdy reasons (as you’d probably expect): in particular, because it extends by one step a cascade of naming that I’d meant to write about.  So here goes. Continue reading

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Imposter syndrome, and some posts I’m proud of

Like a lot of scientists, I’ve got a little bit of imposter syndrome.  I’m secretly* afraid that my colleagues will discover that I’m not actually very good at what I do and that I don’t belong in science.  (To be clear: strictly intellectually, I understand that I’m not really an imposter; but that has almost nothing to do with how I feel.)  I have this worry about my research, about my writing book, and even about my blogging. At some point in the writing of nearly every new post, I find myself thinking “I’ll be embarrassed if people read this”.  (A while ago, I connected this to introversion, but I don’t think it’s just that.)

There seem to be two really useful ways to deal with imposter syndrome.  One is to admit that you feel it, and I’ve just done that.  The other is to recognize good work that you’ve done.  Continue reading

Making a conference introvert-friendly

Image: Joe Wolf via flickr.com CC BY-ND 2.0

I need your help, because I was asked a question and didn’t know the answer.  Read on…

Conferences are an important part of life as a scientist.  They’re a valuable part of network-building and a chance to exchange the newest ideas, the newest techniques, and the newest results.  But they’re also exhausting – and particularly so for scientists who are introverts, and find the crowded rooms and halls and the non-stop social interaction draining.  Plenty of scientists are introverts – I’m one – and so this isn’t a trivial issue.  I wrote some time ago about how I manage going to conferences as an introvert.  But until just last week it never occurred to me to wonder about the issue from the other end:  to wonder what conference organizers might do to make conferences more welcoming to introverts.  Continue reading

I’m writing another book!

I got some great news recently that I’ve been itching to share.  I can tell you now – because just the other day signed, I signed the contract.  I’m writing another book! Continue reading

I refuse all review requests with deadlines < 3 weeks. Here’s why, and how.

Warning: another grumpy one

I’m seeing it more and more: requests to review manuscripts with ludicrously short deadlines.  Sometimes 10 days, sometimes 7, sometimes one week (5 business days).  And I see editors on Twitter bragging about a paper they’ve shepherd through the entire review process in 5 days, or a week, or two weeks.  I want all this to stop. Continue reading

Gardens, beachheads, and invasions

Photo: Japanese knotweed © gerald_at_volp_dot_com, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Note: This is a science outreach piece belonging to a series I wrote for the newsletter of the Fredericton Botanic Garden.  I’d be happy to see it modified for use elsewhere and so am posting the text here under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license. If you use it, though, I’d appreciate hearing where and how.

A visit to a garden is a chance to see beautiful plants, and often, unfamiliar ones.  For centuries, gardeners have scoured the world for beauty that evolved in far-off lands. Many of our most cherished garden plants, then, originated somewhere else – and being the first to grow something new and strange has always been something to boast of.  The quest for new accessions is a fundamental part of gardening, and it’s fun and educational, but over the years it’s had its dark side, too.  That’s because gardening has been an important pathway for the arrival of invasive alien plants (and other creatures). Continue reading