By Sarah Nason
New year, new you, Science Twitter? A little of column A and a little of column B this month as we round up what happened on Science Twitter in January 2018. You can find the December 2017 round-up here!
1. At the top of the New Year, ichthyologist Dr. Prosanta Chakrabarty called for some renewed approaches for how we engage with one another in the scientific community:
2. Debate was sparked about the cougar hunt in Alberta when a controversial photo was posted.
3. As admission deadlines for grad school at many major universities drew closer, debate was sparked about the “personal essay” component that many institutions require.
One tweet in particular from neurobiologist Leslie Vosshall lamenting the clichéd nature of this type of essay received a lot of response (and was later apologized for).
Obviously, we all know the best way to be a novel candidate that catches a committee’s interest:
Applicant Hannah Brazeau related her confusion and experience in a thread here. Current graduate students and alumni contributed their impressions in a revealing poll:
4. Biologists marvelled at a recent study on how raptors in Australia spread fire by carrying burning debris: an observation agreeing with long-held traditional indigenous knowledge.
It seems the news headlines may have also mildly distorted the original study:
“Firehawks” weren’t the only case like this: a study on the Arapaima, a species of giant fish, also backed up traditional knowledge this month:
5. A video of orcas and humpbacks hunting collaboratively made a big splash.
Cetacean researcher Quad Finn who posted the video encouraged viewers to read more about how warming ocean waters may have contributed to this odd phenomenon.
6. Senators and MPs in Canada lobbied the government to increase conservation spending.
7. An article in Backpacker Magazine encouraging their readers to “explore off trail” received criticism from wildlife biologists concerned about the negative implications for conservation and hiker safety.
8. Dr. Angela Fuller advocated for “CVs of failures,” pointing out that every scientist who looks perfectly successful has probably had much more failure than success in their career.
9. More broadly in the academic community: #ubcaccountable: signatories started opting to take their names off of a controversial open letter to UBC arguing for procedural fairness in the treatment of Steven Galloway’s case. Steven Galloway was chair of the creative writing program at UBC until he was fired following accusations of sexual assault.
Canadian academics lamented Margaret Atwood’s signature and continued defense of the UBC Accountable letter, pointing out how this information likely flies under the radar for American fans of the Handmaid’s Tale.
10. Speaking of creative writing: closer to home, similar accusations came out about professors of Concordia University’s creative writing program.
11. Because it’s impossible to escape his all-consuming news cycle: Trump proclaimed an urge to kill all sharks, apparently driven by his watching of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which was rough on the marine research community.
Luckily, we all know what this really means:
If you need a thread to share with people who have fallen into the shark fear-mongering, click here!
12. A case study on bees taught us about how social justice and science are often hugely inter-connected.
13. The BBC’s Wild Cats series launched and introduced us to the world’s deadliest cat: the black-footed cat. Avert your eyes. Don’t let your children see.
Are you ready for it?
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
To see the full video click here.
14. We were reminded that sometimes art is hidden in scientific figures.
If you ever want to find more of this kind of stuff, the #SciArt tag on twitter is always fun to rifle through!
15. The Vancouver Aquarium made the decision to cease keeping cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in captivity, which received widespread response across Twitter.
The aquarium released a statement emphasizing its commitment to marine conservation science and research here.
16. Science Twitter muddled with a meme that was probably not meant to fall into the hands of scientists…
17. Scratch your heads no longer: biologists finally decoded what the teens are saying these days.
18. #reviewforscience: scientists took to the Amazon reviews section to finally provide all the information you needed to know about everyday products.
The hilarious trend was covered in an article in the Washington Post here.