What our kids need to know

Since John Wilkins has already commented on Paul Hanle’s article on the declining competitiveness of Americans in science, I’ll focus my opinion on a narrower point. I think Hanle is precisely correct when he points out that ID and creationism are shackles that handicap science education in our country.

By teaching intelligent design or other variants of creationism in science classes at public schools — or by undercutting the credibility of evolution — we are greatly diminishing our chances for future scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations, and are endangering our health, safety and economic well-being as individuals and as a nation.

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Job opportunity!

Look, everyone! The Lehigh University biology department is hiring! I wonder if they’re searching for a “design theorist” to complement their eminent Professor Behe…


Evolutionary Biology

The Department of Biological Sciences seeks candidates with outstanding research that employs modern analytical methods in the study of fundamental aspects of the evolutionary process. Areas of specialization may include field and/or laboratory studies on molecular aspects of population genetics, molecular mechanisms of phenotypic expression, cell division, asexual or sexual development, neural/endocrine processes, genome conservation, or phylogeny. The successful candidate for this TENURE-TRACK position will have the potential or demonstrated ability to generate extramural funding and have a commitment to instructional excellence at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The College of Arts and Sciences at Lehigh is especially interested in qualified candidates who can contribute, through their research, teaching, and/or service, to the diversity and excellence of the academic community. Applications should be directed to: Professor M. Itzkowitz, Chair, Evolutionary Biology Search Committee. E-mail: inbios@lehigh.edu Send curriculum vitae, representative publications, description of research and teaching interests, and four letters of reference to the Search Committee Chair electronically or to: Department of Biological Sciences, 111 Research Drive, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015 Deadline for submission is December 1, 2006.

Lehigh University is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer and is committed to recruiting and retaining women and minorities.

…Nope, guess not. They’re a sensible university, not insane. It is a rather wide-open call for applicants, though—it’s like they’re saying all they want is someone with solid standing in almost any aspect of evolutionary biology.

Carnivalia, and an open thread

Perusable blogaliciousness for your Friday morning:

The Tangled Bank

The Hairy Museum of Natural History has put out a call for submissions to the Tangled Bank, with an early deadline. If you want a shot at maybe seeing your link with a custom illustration, send it in by Sunday evening. He’ll try to accept stuff up through Tuesday, but make life easy on the guy, OK?

Maybe it’s an Australian custom

I’ve been asked if this is a common occurrence at scientific conferences: at an Australian conference on climate change, the entertainment at a social dinner was a burlesque show. And the answer is…no. Every meeting dinner I’ve attended has had some white-maned elder statesperson of the discipline do the ‘entertainment’, which is usually thin on the bare flesh and the humor, thick with jargon and historical detail. It can be fun—I recall one talk by JZ Young that was full of squid and voltages that I really enjoyed—but I don’t think it would have been improved if he’d been up on the podium wearing nothing but balloons.

It’s an odd story. The cabaret was cut short after 10 minutes, so I think it’s clear that a significant number of attendees must have expressed their disapproval immediately, and that this was a bit beyond the pale, even for wild ol’ Australia. Some organizer somewhere made a very, very bad decision, I think.

Good question, Frau Professorin Doktorin Stemwedel!

Janet asks, “How should we professorial types be addressed by our students?” I’m introducing myself to a new crop of students in an hour, so this is something I also go through every year.

My answer: if the students don’t know the professor, the default should be “Dr” or “Professor.” Always. It’s the safe thing to do.

To my students, I always tell them I’d rather not be addressed so formally, and “Paul” or “PZ” are better choices. “Hey, Myers!” is a little too brash.

I think the appropriate way to answer the question is to turn it around: how do we professors address the students? If you insist on being called “Dr”, I think you should be expected to address all your students as “Mr” or “Ms.” We can set the level of formality to whatever we want, but it has to be reciprocal. Of course, I’m also at a small college where I get to know every student, and by name…I suppose another alternative at the bigger places is to insist on being called “Dr,” while addressing all your students as a nameless, faceless, tuition-paying mob.

More info for my developmental biology students

The syllabus for Biol 4181, Developmental Biology is now online. Start reading! It looks like I’ll have you reading 50-100 pages of Wolpert and Carroll or Zimmer a week.

I want you all to know this is something of a miracle—I usually finish my syllabus the night before the class starts, so I’m very proud of myself for getting it done a whole four days ahead of time. Of course, the reason it’s early is that I’ve got a stack of extra-curricular writing that needs to be done in the next couple of days…