We want to hire a biologist!

The UMM biology program is looking to replace a recent retiree, and we need someone who is an excellent teacher, competent to teach cell biology and a basic genetics course, and with some interesting expertise that can be used for upper level electives in your specialty and can provide undergraduate research opportunities. We will need this wonderful person by Fall of 2011, so if you think you fit the bill and want to be involved in an excellent undergraduate teaching program, send an application in soon! The committee here is champing at the bit to find out who our future tenure track colleague will be, so even though it says our screening period is open-ended, we’re going to get into action in mid-January and late applications will enter an applicant pool where we’re already interviewing people. Don’t delay!

Full Time Tenure Track Position in Biology

Required/Preferred Qualifications:
Required: Applicants must hold or expect to receive a Ph.D. in cell biology or a related field by August 15, 2011. Two years experience teaching undergraduate biology is required. (Graduate TA experience is acceptable).

Preferred: Preference will be given to applicants who have an area of expertise relevant to our pre-health professional students and complementary to existing faculty interests. These might include, but are not limited to: immunology, cancer biology, bioinformatics, and cell signaling.

Duties/Responsibilities: Teaching undergraduate biology courses including a sophomore-level cell biology course, an upper-level genetics elective course, an elective in the applicant’s area of expertise, and other courses that support the biology program; advising undergraduates; conducting research that could involve undergraduates; and sharing in the governance and advancement of the biology program, the division, and the campus.

Program/Unit Description:
The University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM) is one of the top public liberal arts colleges in the nation. As one of five campuses of the University of Minnesota, UMM has a unique mission and offers the best of both in the world of higher education–a small, close-knit campus complemented by the power of a world-renowned research University system. UMM is located 160 miles WNW of Minneapolis in a small (5000) rural community.  Our student body is diverse (19% students of color) and academically well-prepared, with 55% earning an ACT comprehensive score of 25 or higher and over 50% drawn from the top 20% of their high school classes.  Our current faculty have received 18 of the University system’s highest teaching award and are very active in research and publication.  To learn more about the University of Minnesota, Morris visit our website at http://www.morris.umn.edu.

This tenure-track position carries all of the privileges and responsibilities of University of Minnesota faculty appointments. A sound retirement plan, excellent fringe benefits and a collegial atmosphere are among the benefits that accompany the position. Appointment will be at the Assistant Professor level for those having the Ph.D. in hand and at the Instructor level for those whose Ph.D. is pending. The standard teaching load is twenty credit hours per year.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.  We are committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation.  To request disability accommodations, please contact Sarah Mattson at 320-589-6021.

Application Instructions:
Applications must include a letter of application, resume, transcripts, a teaching statement (with evidence of teaching effectiveness), a research statement (proposing a research program that is viable at a small liberal arts college and accessible to undergraduates) and three letters of reference. Send applications to:

Biology Search Committee Chair
Division of Science and Mathematics
University of Minnesota, Morris
Morris, MN 56267-2128

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Screening begins January 5, 2011. Inquiries can be made to Ann Kolden, Executive Office and Administrative Specialist, at (320) 589-6301 or koldenal@morris.umn.edu.

I know, it says we’re small and far away in the hinterland, but don’t let that scare you. This really is a great good place to work if teaching is your passion. And if it isn’t, we probably don’t want you.

Episode CXII: Ask a scientist an awkward question…

The permanent thread could use a little amusement, and this video offers it. Ask a scientist whether they believe in god, and what you get is an I-can’t-believe-you-asked-me-that look; ask them about their work, and they get all enthusiastic and passionate. That’s fairly universal among any group of scientists.

(Current totals: 11,090 entries with 1,137,575 comments.)

I’m beginning to suspect that Zach Weiner has issues with biologists

He’s done it again. It’s another comic that mocks biologists. It’s entirely true, but that’s beside the point — he’s exposing us! And yes, I know that he’s married to a parasitologist, which just means he’s been given direct insight into the mind of a biologist and will be using that information against us.

This could be trouble. Weiner shouldn’t be surprised if he’s walkin’ down the street sometime and a gang in labcoats whispers up behind him in their Priuses and pelts him with viscera. We’re a dangerous bunch, you know.

Obsessed with a gay young man

Anderson Cooper nailed Andrew Shirvell. Shirvell has been on a long-running crusade against a fellow named Chris Armstrong, creating a blog called “Chris Armstrong Watch” (always a bad sign), picketing his house, monitoring his facebook page, making wild accusations that Armstrong is abusing his power, etc., etc., etc. Shirvell is the perfect picture of insanity. He’s so out of control that he was invited to appear on CNN, presumably because crazy haters make good copy.

Shirvell acknowledged protesting outside of Armstrong’s house and calling him “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.”

“I’m a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights,” Shirvell told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual. I have a problem with the fact that he’s advancing a radical homosexual agenda.”

Of course Shirvell is a Christian fanatic. He’s also dishonest: browse his blog and you can tell he is just freaking out over the fact that Armstrong is gay…it’s all he talks about. He’s a militant radical gay activist who hates God, Christians, the unborn, and wants to have gay sex with everyone but Andrew Shirvell.

The scary part is that Armstrong is just the student body president at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, a position with almost no power. Shirvell is an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan. Let’s just hope that that is the peak of his political career.

Watch your language, young lady!

We often get remarks from people that the Pharyngula comments are a cesspool, that I ought to moderate more, that people use intemperate language and even profanity in their discussions…and, you know, I just roll my eyes and ignore these silly bluenoses and their prissy airs. We’re adults here. I am not a playground monitor. I’m more of a distracted barkeep.

But I also think those critics are all wrong. They tend to focus on a few four-letter words and an angry tone that some of us exhibit, and overlook the content. And it’s the content of the message that matters. I just ran across a discussion of real problematic language from the right wingers, and I think it puts everything in perspective.

Here’s one example, from the odious Ann Coulter. Now whenever Coulter is brought up here, there will always be a few pathetic jokes made about how she’s a man, she has an adam’s apple, stupid stuff like that, but I can also always rely on the commentariat here to slap those down promptly. She’s a woman, OK? A tall, slender woman, and physically she’s not unattractive (psychologically, though, she’s a horror), and it’s annoying to see her targeted for her sex. But guess what? Ann Coulter doesn’t mind doing a little stereotyping of her own.

My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call “women” at the Democratic National Convention.

Notice that she used no profanity, and that you can scrutinize each word independently and find nothing that a good Christian could object to. Put them all together, though, and what you’ve got is an obscenity far nastier than anything said here.

I’m not going to impose censorship on Pharyngula as long as I can trust the commenters here to call out that kind of bigotry.

The class writes

I told you I’ve got my development class blogging, and here’s the update for this week.

Don’t be shy. They’ve been told to welcome comments and to brace themselves for possible criticisms.

Show me

Larry Moran is as exasperated as I am with these so-called allies who accuse the Gnu Atheists of ignorance of the ‘sophisticated’ modern arguments for gods and the rationality of theists. We keep being told we’re know-nothings who are simply unaware of the great stuff that believers actually believe, yet somehow, these defenders of the faithful never quite manage to continue their train of thought and tell us what those great ideas are. So he has issued a simple challenge:

I challenge all theists and all their accommodationist friends to post their very best 21st century, sophisticated (or not), arguments for the existence of God. They can put them in the comments section of this posting, or on any of the other atheist blogs, or on their own blogs and websites. Just send me the link.

Try and make it concise and to the point. It would be nice if it’s less than 100 years old. Keep in mind that there are over 1000 different gods so it would be helpful to explain just which gods the argument applies to.

I’d be looking forward to the replies, if I wasn’t confident that what he’ll get instead is a lot of evasions.

Stuart Pivar has responded

Stuart Pivar has replied to my criticisms. He’s very quick. It’s too bad he isn’t rational.

Dear Dr. Myers,

My paper, “The Origin of the Vertebrate Skeleton,” published in the International Journal of Astrobiology, does not describe what is observed in embryology. I never made this claim. The references in the paper illustrate and support the historical context. Namely, attempts to represent in drawings the missing historical stages lost by the phenomenon called condensation (the attrition of initial stages by the addition of terminal stages over eons, see Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Stephen Jay Gould, 1977).

By analogy this phase is the reconstruction of a missing first reel of a long movie. The model is a hypothetical construction, common in cosmology, geology and atomic theory, to account for historical or unobservable events. It is the only accurately predictive model of morphogenesis ever published.

For further explanation my proposed model, see: www.syntheticlifelab.com.

Sincerely yours,

Stuart Pivar

Yes, I know those drawings could not be derived from embryology, because nothing in the embryo resembles them. But that disclaimer still leaves wide open a significant question.

Where is the evidence for his “reconstruction”?

It’s not in embryology, it’s not in molecular biology, it’s not in systematics, it’s not in paleontology. It’s just, boom, plopped on the page in a series of fantastic sketches. If you’re doing science, the central part of any paper is a description of how you derived your conclusions, and that is completely missing. With that level of rigor, Brian Froud’s books could be called scientific evidence for the existence of fairies and goblins.

When I was much younger…

The local newspaper would print out the names of all of the kids who made it onto the school honor roll, and my grandma would pinch my cheek and tell me what a good boy I was for studying hard. I do wonder how she would respond to making it onto the Playboy Honor Roll.

I think she’d say “Nehmen!” and wag her finger at me and tell me I’ll be getting no krumkake that day.