Category Archives: creativity

A list of publicly available grant proposals in the biological sciences

Recently a bunch of folks in the biological sciences have started sharing their grant proposals openly. Their reasons for doing so are varied (see the links next to their names below), but part of the common justification is a general interest in opening up science so that all stages of the process can benefit from better interaction and communication, and part of it is to provide examples for younger scientists writing grants. To help accomplish both of these goals I’m going to do what Titus Brown suggested and compile a list of all of the available open proposals in the biological sciences (if you’re looking for math proposals they have a list too). Given the limited number of proposals available at the moment I’m just going to maintain the list here, sorted alphabetically by PI. Another way to find proposals is to look at the ‘grant’ and ‘proposal’ tags on figshare, where several of us have been posting proposals. If you know of more proposals, decide to post some yourself, or have corrections to proposal in the list, just let me know in the comments and I’ll keep the list updated. Enjoy!

Casey Bergman (@caseybergman)

Titus Brown (@ctitusbrown; read Titus’ thoughts on sharing proposals)

Scott Chamberlain (@recology_)

Karen Cranston (@kcranstn)

Edmund (Ted) Harte (@DistribEcology)

Jan Jensen (@janhjensen; read Jan’s thoughts on sharing proposals)

Paula Mabee

Rod Page (@rdmpage; read Rod’s thoughts on sharing proposals)

David Pappano (@djpappano)

Heather Piwowar (@researchremix) & Jason Priem (@jasonpriem) (read their thoughts on sharing proposals)

Rosie Redfield (@RosieRedfield)

Andrey Revyakin

Tracy Teal (@tracykteal)

Andrew Tredennick (@ATredennick)

Heroen Verbruggen

Todd Vision (@tjvision)

Ethan White (@ethanwhite; read Ethan’s thoughts on sharing proposals)

Sometimes it’s important to ignore the details [Things you should read]

Joan Strassman has a very nice post about why it is sometimes useful to step back from the intricate details of biological systems in order to understand the general processes that are operating. Here’s a little taste of the general message

In this talk, Jay said that MacArthur claimed the best ecologists had blurry vision so they could see the big patterns without being overly distracted by the contradictory details. This immediately made a huge amount of sense to me. Biology is so full of special cases, of details that don’t fit theories, that it is easy to despair of advancing with broad, general theories. But we need those theories, for they tell us where to look next, what data to collect, and even what theory to challenge. I am a details person, but love the big theories.

The whole post is definitely worth a read.

Michael Nielsen on the importance and value of Open Science

We are pretty excited about what modern technology can do for science and in particular the potential for increasingly rapid sharing of, and collaboration on, data and ideas. It’s the big picture that explains why we like to blog, tweet, publish data and code, and we’ve benefited greatly from others who do the same. So, when we saw this great talk by Michael Nielsen about Open Science, we just had to share.

(via, appropriately enough, @gvwilson and @TEDxWaterloo on Twitter)

Postdoc position in Jim Brown’s group studying the major patterns of biodiversity

There is a new postdoctoral research position available in Jim Brown’s lab at the University of New Mexico to study some of the major patterns of biodiversity. We know a bit about the research and it’s going to be an awesome project with a bunch of incredibly bright people involved. Jim’s lab is also one of the most intellectually stimulating and supportive environments that you could possibly work in. Seriously, if you are even remotely qualified then you should apply for this position. We’re both thinking about applying and we already have faculty positions :). Here’s the full ad:

The Department of Biology at the University of New Mexico is seeking applications for a post-doc position in ecology/biodiversity. The post doc will be expected to play a major role in a multi-investigator, multi- institutional project supported by a four-year NSF Macrosystems Ecology grant. The research will focus on metabolic processes underlying the major patterns of biodiversity, especially in pervasive temperature dependence and requires a demonstrated working knowledge of theory, mathematical and computer
modeling skills.

Applicants must have a Ph.D. in ecology or a related discipline.

Review begins with the first applications and continues until the position is filled. Applicants must submit a cover letter and a curriculum vitae along with at least three phone numbers of references, three letters of recommendation and PDF’s of relevant preprints and publications to be sent directly to ecohire@unm.edu attn: James Brown. Application materials must be received by July 25, 2011, for best consideration.

Questions related to this posting may be directed to Dr. James Brown at ecohire@unm.edu or to Katherine Thannisch at kthannis@unm.edu.

The University of New Mexico is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and Educator. Women and underrepresented minorities are encouraged to apply.

Oikos has a blog? [Blogrolling]

Thanks to an email from Jeremy Fox I just found out that Oikos has started a blog. It clearly isn’t on most folks radars (I represent 50% of its Google Reader subscribers), and Jeremy has been putting up some really interesting posts over there so I thought it was worth a mention. According to Jeremy:

I view the Oikos blog as a place where the Oikos editors can try to do the sort of wonderful armchair ecology that John [Lawton] used to do in his ‘View From the Park’ column. I say ‘try’ because I doubt any of us could live up to John’s high standard (I’m sure I don’t!). I’m going to try to do posts that will be thought-provoking for students in particular. Oikos used to be the place to go with interesting, provocative ideas that were well worth publishing even if they were a bit off the wall or not totally correct. It’s our hope (well, my hope anyway) that this blog will become one way for Oikos to reclaim that niche.

I think they’re doing a pretty good job of accomplishing their goal, so go check out recent posts on the importance of hand waving and synthesizing ecology, and then think about subscribing to keep up on the new provocative things they’re up to.

Daily Routines [Things you should read]

I just restumbled over the Daily Routines blog. The blog is about “how writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days” and is basically just excerpts from interviews with famous creative folks. The blog appears to be “on hold” pending an upcoming book, but I definitely recommend pulling it up some lazy afternoon and working your way through how some of the most creative people around structure their days.

The top idea in your mind [Things you should read]

Successfully doing creative science is hard. The further along you get in a research career the more things are competing for your time and energy and the more distracted you are from your primary goals. This distraction becomes increasingly problematic when it distracts your subconscious as well as your conscious mind. A short post by Paul Graham does an excellent job of describing why this is the case and how you can manage access to that creative part of your brain. In particular he recommends minimizing the amount of time spent chasing money and being involved in disputes. These are both things that we end up doing a lot of in academia and in my experience Graham is right about their ability to consume the productive thought processes we rely on. I also love this quote from Newton:

I see I have made myself a slave to Philosophy, but if I get free of Mr Linus’s business I will resolutely bid adew to it eternally, excepting what I do for my private satisfaction or leave to come out after me. For I see a man must either resolve to put out nothing new or become a slave to defend it.

Go check out the full post.

(via James Horey)

I think we make things that we like and… [Quote]

I think we make things that we like and that we think our friends would like, and we cross our fingers and hope that enough other people like it that we can earn a living. Rather than trying to guess, ‘What is it that the American public wants right now and let’s see if we can give it to them.’

Aaron Sorkin

If we embrace the fact that no one can or should ever care about the health of our passions… [Quote]

If we embrace the fact that no one can or should ever care about the health of our passions as much as we do, the practical decisions that help ensure Our Good Thing stays alive can become as “simple” as a handful of proven patterns—work hard, stay awake, fail well, hang with smart people, shed bullshit, say “maybe,” focus on action, and always always commit yourself to a bracing daily mixture of all the courage, honesty, and information you need to do something awesome—discover whatever it’ll take to keep your nose on the side of the ocean where the fresh air lives. This is huge.

- Merlin Mann

A great quote from an interesting article about Future-Proofing Your Passion that includes lots of great advice for young and old scientists alike.

Creativity = Science + Writing

A group of 5th and 6th graders where asked to define either “science” or “writing” and when the answers were combined this definition of creativity was the result. In scientific education, and as we conduct scientific research, we often lose track of the fact that creativity is critical to the scientific process. This is a great reminder of its importance.

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