Warning: navel gazing
If you’ve been hanging around Scientist Sees Squirrel, you’ll know that last July I moved into “phased retirement”, or “semi-retirement” if you prefer. Administratively, I’m now in 62% of a professorial job, and will be for another year before full retirement. I get asked a lot how that’s working out. About a month in, I attempted to answer that question; but for obvious reasons (a month, lol!) it was a poor attempt. Now, at six months, I have a better idea. So if you’re interested (perhaps you’re contemplating something similar yourself), here’s my update.
I knew at the start I wouldn’t be suddenly and magically doing only 62% of the work. Continue reading
Warning: navel gazing.
I’ve not been noted, over my career, for laser-focused stick-to-it-iveness. Instead, I’ve reinvented myself a few times, changing my research focus – among other things – repeatedly. But I’m about to launch my biggest reinvention yet. I’m retiring – albeit gradually and not right away. Continue reading
Forgive me for being very excited today: it’s the official release date for the second edition of The Scientist’s Guide to Writing. It’s been a long time in the works, but now it’s for real: you can have your very own copy! (US evil corporate behemoth; publisher; more ordering links).
I hope you’ll like the new edition. It has two new chapters (on strategies for reading, and on preprinting and choice of journals), and a whole slew of other additions and improvements. You can read more about what’s new here.
I thought today I’d use the book’s release as a hook to answer a question I get asked a lot, in various forms. Continue reading
This is my 500th post on Scientist Sees Squirrel*, and my goodness, that’s quite the logorrheic accomplishment.
When I started this blog, back in January of 2015, I really didn’t know where it was going. (Like many of my major life decisions, starting a blog wasn’t thoroughly thought out.) It’s astonishing to me that I’m still at it, nearly 7 years later; and that I’ve written 500 posts and thus, roughly, 550,000 words. That’s just a little bit less verbiage than War and Peace, and a little more than Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the doorstopperiest of the series) and Moby Dick (which, by the way, carries an important lesson for scientific writers) combined.
Like Dynamic Ecology, I know I’ll eventually stop spelling ‘banana’; but not yet. Continue reading
Warning: navel-gazing AND trivial, all in one tidy package
I spent a fish-out-of-water hour last Friday, hanging an art exhibit. Nothing in my career made me suspect I’d ever do that – and given my complete lack of artistic ability*, you’ll be relieved to know that it’s not my art. Instead, I was hanging an exhibit of the illustrations from my book, Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider. They’re gorgeous, thanks to the expert work of science illustrator Emily Damstra, and if aren’t in Fredericton to see the exhibit, then you can come close via this post and the online exhibit it links to.
I did feel like a fish out of water Continue reading
Charles Darwin’s Barnacle is a year old! Not the species – that’s probably a few million years old, or at least that’s a guess given the average lifespan of a species. And not the name “Charles Darwin’s Barnacle”, which is 138 years old (the deep-sea barnacle species Regioscalpellum darwini was originally described by Hoek in 1883 as Trianguloscalpellum darwini). It’s my book: my book Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider is a year old.* It’s a little hard to believe.
People often ask me how the book has sold. I don’t really know (because other than Amazon sales rankings, I have no data), although I can tell you that it spent exactly zero weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Continue reading
Inspired by similar exercises from Small Pond Science and The Lab and Field, I present once more a few of the more interesting search terms by which Scientist Sees Squirrel has been found. I swear, I don’t make these up – I’m pretty sure I couldn’t.
rejected assistant professor
Well, we’ve all been, many times, although it sounds a bit depressing when put so baldly. This finds my post Universities That Did Not Hire Me. Perhaps I can consider it a career success to have failed often enough to be the #5 Google search result for “rejected assistant professor”. Yes, let’s think about it that way.
i hate my department chair Continue reading
Well, OK, I answered a lot more questions this week, but what I mean is that I’m the week’s featured interview on 46 Questions. 46 Questions is a great idea. Every week they feature a scientist giving quick, short answers to 46 questions – questions that emphasize the scientist as a person with hobbies and personality and guilty pleasures, rather than the science they do. I think that’s important. There’s a stereotype out there that scientists are something apart – often, emotionless and personality-deficient automatons in lab coats behind a laboratory bench. That’s dangerous: it makes it easy for the general public to reject science, because it’s separate and other, not part of our shared society. Far better for folks to understand that scientists are people just like everyone else; that there might be a scientist in line behind you at the grocery store, in the next pew at church, or on the opposing team in the curling bonspiel. Scientists have all the same virtues, vices, and personality quirks as everyone else (and that’s a major theme of my new book, by the way).
46 Questions has done a nice job of highlighting the humanity of scientists, and also the many axes of diversity among scientists that we can and should celebrate. I’m happy to be part of it.
You can read my 46 answers here – but even better, browse around a bit. There are all kinds of interesting people there!
© Stephen Heard November 14, 2019
Image: 46 Questions logo
Photo: Squirrel in the Bergdorf Goodman Shoes window; © Katie Hinde, by permission.
Today is Scientist Sees Squirrel’s fourth birthday. When I pounded out my first post, I had no real concept of what I was doing. I’m a little surprised and a little bemused that after four years, I’m still pounding out posts. (It remains true that I have no real concept of what I’m doing, but at least I’ve established that I enjoy doing it.) Along the way, I appear to have written over 300 posts – and nobody can be more surprised by that than I am.
Occasions like this sometimes get celebrated with greatest-hits lists, but that would be boring. It’s tempting to do a greatest-duds list instead (starting with this one), but why would I inflict that on you? So, for some middle ground: five posts that I think were actually pretty good – but that you probably didn’t read, because almost nobody did. I’ve written about my most undercited paper; I guess these are some of my most underread blog posts. Perhaps you’ll enjoy making the acquaintance of a piece you missed the first time around. Continue reading
Photo: Eurasian red squirrel © Peter Trimming CC BY-SA 2.0
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