Thursday Afternoon Dredging: March 2nd, 2017

Thursday Afternoon DredgingMarch 2, 20170

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Logo by Ethan Kocak

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Why do wizards go adventuring ? Or …. you thought that your tenure requirements were tough?!

Academic life, Fantasy, funding, Popular Culture, Science LifeFebruary 23, 2017

Something that has been bothering me for a while, is why do wizards go adventuring?

Source: ClipArtLord.com

Now if you are a big geek like me, you’ll know that practically every adventuring party has a wizard. But these wizards are incredibly unprepared for exploring dungeons and have a shockingly high mortality rate. In the dungeons and dragons* of my youth, a starting wizard had a mere 1 to 4 hit points and was equipped with dagger (or is they were luck a staff). Did these budding Gandalfs get armor? Of course not, they faced ogres and basilisks in the fantasy equivalent of sweat pants.

The statistics of a starting wizard meant that they could easily be killed by a house cat. Also they had just one spell. Cast “light” so that your party could see in a cave, and you were done for the day. If you had the most destructive spell of the first level wizard, you would fire a “magic missile” that always hit, but did a miserable 2 to 5 (1d4+1)  points of damage. So if  jumped by  above mentioned angry house cat, you literally had a 50/50 chance of killing it before it killed you**.

So why do all these highly educated, highly intelligent wizards leave their ivory (or mithril) towers and trudge through cold, dank dungeons with groups of characters that generally make the knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail look like Seal Team 6  in comparison?

Why does every early career academic pursue elusive gold and put their common sense and lives on the line? Why…? To get tenure of course…

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Rumors of the lesser electric ray’s demise have been greatly exaggerated

fisheries, marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharks, Uncategorized

A lesser electric ray. Photo credit: Brandi Noble, NOAA Fisheries Service

The lesser electric raya small sand-dwelling ray that lives from North Carolina to Brazil, has been considered one of the most endangered marine fish on Earth. A 2005 paper reported that 98% of these rays had been wiped out, a decline attributed to shrimp trawling bycatch. This paper resulted in these animals getting classified as IUCN Red List “Critically Endangered,” the highest risk category for any species that is still found in the wild.

A new paper published today in the journal Endangered Species Research shows that these rays are in much better shape than previously believed. “There is no evidence of a decline in the relative abundance of lesser electric rays,” said Dr. John Carlson, a NOAA Fisheries Service Research Biologist and lead author of the new paper.

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Thursday Afternoon Dredging: February 23rd, 2017

Thursday Afternoon Dredging

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Logo by Ethan Kocak

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Monday Morning Salvage: February 20, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageFebruary 20, 2017

For all our US-based Readers: Happy President’s Day! For everyone else, this is the reason none of you USian colleagues are answering e-mails. Unless they are, in which case, *grumble grumble grumble* *something about work-life balance*

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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Thursday Afternoon Dredging: February 16th, 2017

UncategorizedFebruary 16, 2017

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Logo by Ethan Kocak

  • Watch cownose rays migrate past Destin, Florida, filmed by a parasailer

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R1 research universities – is a biased, flawed ranking system crippling academia?

Academic life, Challenging the Conventional Narrative, funding, Science funding

If you are at a university that has graduate students, you have probably heard about whether your university is an R1 or R2 or R-whatever research institution. Universities tout their position in this ranking system, awarded by the Carnegie Foundation, to denote how “prestigious” they are in terms of research. From 1994, the ranking used to be given according to how much federal research funding they were awarded.

Source: clipart panda

Because of this, all the ranking told you was how much federal money a particular university received. This system is incredibly flawed. For example, if you have faculty more dedicated to writing grants and less dedicated to teaching, mentoring graduate students, publishing articles or doing other activities that are supposed to be the mainstay of academia, then certainly you will get more money. However, this will be at the expense of teaching, mentoring, publishing, etc. (more…)

Monday Morning Salvage: February 13, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageFebruary 13, 2017

Bringing you the best of marine science and conservation from the last week.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Jetsam (what we’re enjoying from around the web) (more…)

Thursday Afternoon Dredging: February 9th, 2017

Thursday Afternoon DredgingFebruary 9, 2017

Cuttings (short and sweet):

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Conserving Chicago’s Lungfish Legacy

Conservation, Natural Science, Public perceptions of wildlife, ScienceFebruary 8, 2017

Adult Australian Lungfish, part of a captive breeding program in Queensland, Australia.
Credit: Gordon Hides (used with permission)

On Sunday, February 5, 2017, Granddad the Australian Lungfish, the oldest fish in any aquarium or zoo, was euthanized due to health complications. Although his exact age is unknown, he arrived at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago as an adult in 1933. Australian Lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) take over a decade to mature, so we can estimate he was over 90 years old when he passed.

The Australian Lungfish is a unique species, considered a “living fossil”, resembling its ancestors whose lineage dates back over 380 million years. The Australian Lungfish genus (Neoceratodus) itself has been around for about 100 million years. When first described, they were believed to be amphibians; one look at their elongate body and flipper-like fins, and you can imagine the classification conundrum. The fish even possesses a primitive lung, allowing it to breathe air in low-oxygen environments (although they usually breathe with their gills).

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Staff: Andrew David Thaler (1121), David Shiffman (517), Amy Freitag (235), Guest Writer (75), Chris Parsons (52), Kersey Sturdivant (51), Michelle Jewell (18), Chuck Bangley (18), Administrator (2), David Lang (1), Solomon David (1), Iris (1), Sarah Keartes (1), Michael Bok (0), Lyndell M. Bade (0)
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