Monday, January 21, 2013

Geological Quote of the Week - Rejection

The next geological quote comes from Don't be such a scientist by Randy Olson and it rings especially true as someone who is just starting to get into the academic publishing world. Sorry for a little bit of foul language.

As I waded through my first decade of rejection in Hollywood as a filmmaker, people would ask me whether I found the rejection hurtful or depressing. And I would respond, "Are you shitting me? Do you have any idea what it's like to deal with the rejection of scientists? Hollywood folks reject things on the basis of the idea that 'it just didn't grab me,' and they can't even articulate the reason for their decision. When scientists reject you, they hit you with a stack of data and sources that are the basis for it. That's the sort of specific, substantive rejection that truly hurts."

Olson, R., 2009, Don't be Such a Scientist: Talking substance in an age of style: Washington DC, Island Press, 206 p.

And as always you can check out my other Geological Quotes at my website HERE.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Geological Voyage to the Bottom of the World

For those who are interested the GSA blog (Speaking of Geology) has been posting a very interesting series of posts (produced daily, posted every couple of days) about a special voyage of scientists to the bottom of the world. They started posting them on January 2nd, 2013 and run up through today.
Here is the tag line for it:
The Geological Society of America’s 125th birthday year has begun! We are kicking off this 125th anniversary year now with the celebratory launch of the Akademic Ioffe on an extraordinary voyage of discovery to one of Earth’s most dynamic ecosystems: Antarctica. This once-in-a-lifetime cruise, ‘Travels in Geology — Antarctica and the Scotia Arc: Tectonics, Climate and Life’, will focus on the geology, wildlife, and history of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Geological Quote of the Week

Our next quote will likely be familiar to people who study invertebrates, and even if it isn't, it is certainly apropos:

"I also here salute the echinoderms as a noble group especially designed to puzzle the zoologist."

Hyman, L., 1955, The Invertebrates: Echinodermata, IV: New York, Mcgraw-Hill, 763 p.

You can always check out the other Geological Quotes at my website.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Some Tips on How to Present Science

Previously I had written a list of The Do's and Don'ts of a Professional Meeting that went over pretty well. Now, even though I don't plan on rehashing a lot of the material there (although I might someday) I wanted to add to it. The primary purpose of this post is to try and help people become BETTER presenters, or at least point them in the right direction to learn how.

More people should take time out of their busy schedules to become better at communicating. Without communication anything you do is just for yourself (which is fine in some instances). But if you can't communicate what you have done (in science, in your job, in a relationship) things are likely not going to go over well for you.

For Christmas I received 2 things that I hope can help me (and others) be better communicators. The first one is Don't be Such a Scientist by Randy Olson. Randy goes on to talk about the 4 main points of communication hangups for scientists (which were being "cerebral", being literal minded, being a poor storyteller, and being unlikeable). He explains that scientists are bred to be boring and dispel just the facts in their papers, but nobody wants to talk to or listen to such a person.

Being Cerebral:
The book makes several comments on not just communicating with your brain (like in a scientific article). You can do this through various parts of your anatomy: The brain (being cerebral), the heart (talking with passion and getting other people's passions fired up), the guts (feel it in your gut), and the loins (sex sells). Basically if you love what you study, let that come through. Get other people as fired up as you are.

Being Literal Minded:
Try to think a little outside the box as I have always been an advocate for. Don't just say what you mean but be clever.

Being a Poor Storyteller: 

He offers some suggestions on becoming a better communicator but I think the greatest point that he made was:

"Tell a good story"

All of science can be broken down into stories. It is the stories that people remember and it is these that people should be telling. Mix your facts and your numbers into a cohesive story, leaving out all of the ancillary stuff, to make one cohesive story. I told someone just last semester when preparing for his thesis defense: "Get rid of anything that doesn't fit into one story. The other stuff only detracts from it. You don't need to tell the audience everything you ever did for this project. Just the main points."

One of the points that was made in Don't be Such a Scientist was to loose the jargon. Not everyone understands what you are saying and often it just makes you appear pompous. I wish I had saved an email I received long ago when I was a member of the Vert Paleo Mailing List. Some scientist sent out a message that was so over the top with "fancy words" that people spent the next few days posting what they think he was trying to say. That may be an isolated case but it illustrates that scientists have a habit of speaking above people. I am reminded of a quote I heard in Real Genius (love that movie):

"You will rue the day!"
"Rue the day? Who talks like that?"

Randy also mentioned another project he had worked on in the book called "Talking Science: The elusive art of the science talk" (posted below).

 I recommend watching this. It is only 18 minutes and may give you some tips that you didn't realize (I figured out my pacing while I give talks may be a distraction). But I do have some criticisms of the video. My main criticism was that one person said "You can't over practice a presentation". I strongly disagree with this. If you practice too much you are bound to sound robotic as you are presenting. You need to practice enough in order for it to feel natural but also you want to remember the next thing you are going to say. Once you have that down, I recommend stopping and let it feel natural as you give the talk.

Even though I did love the book, one of my main problems with Don't be Such a Scientist was that it often felt like an advertisement for one of his movies Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. The only problem with that is it ISN'T AVAILABLE TO RENT, BUY, or even SEE ANYWHERE (except a couple of campus viewings and by a couple I mean 2). Quite obnoxious.

Being Unlikeable:
My other Christmas gift was one of Randy's other documentaries (which is actually available), Flock of Dodos. This is about the evolution vs. creationism debates of the recent decade.

A fun watch and most informative about just being able to convey your scientific message. What is the best way to get your point across? Maybe being likeable is better than being knowledgeable.

Another way to be liked falls under my Don'ts at a Scientific Meeting. I went to the GSA (Geological Society of America) annual meeting last year (November, 2012) and I took some pictures to emphasize my point while I was presenting my poster.

#1. Know how to freaking use the damn sticky Velcro tabs. If everyone in the place (>500 posters) does it one way, they most likely know what they are doing. The Velcro tabs are meant to stick to the back of your poster and then the Velcro portion sticks to the board. They are not fancy pieces of tape as illustrated by this person:
Velcro sticky tabs used as basic tape
Close up of said sticky tabs
Really, if you don't take the time to learn how to use the Velcro tabs, why would I want to know about your scientific research?

#2. Your poster is not a "hang out" place for your friends. Nobody wants to look at your poster if there are a group of people sitting in front of it. This was literally what I witnessed as a group of at least 6 people gathered around the poster with no interest in the poster, they were only there because the presenter was their professor (or something like that). And they sat there for over an hour. Move on people.
Blocking the whole poster? Why would you say that?

That is all I have this time. I hope I have dispelled some knowledge and maybe made at least one person consider their communication skills and say "Hey, I can do this better".

Friday, January 11, 2013

Geology in Pop Culture - More Candy

Apparently there were more types of candy. This time I got some "Candy Pebbles". It's like a box of chocolates with multiple different flavors, where not many of them are good.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Icicle Crystal Habits

Alright, this may be a little of a stretch for geology but ice IS a mineral. Since ice is a mineral, these could be considered crystal habits.

There is an interesting feature of my house. We have a sloped, metal room. So even though the temperature has not risen about 20 deg F in the last 1-2 weeks the snow still melts on the roof. The metal and the slope cause the snow to slowly slide down. When this happens the icicles on the end of the roof start to curve around the edge. This causes the older icicles to be bent inwards while the newer ones are still straight. Also, once the older ones reach a certain limit they stop bending around and then resume forming straight down. Anyway, I thought these looked pretty cool.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

My Dissertation Genealogy (AKA My Academic Family Tree)

After reading Jessica's post over at MagmaCumLaude of her academic lineage I have been chomping at the bit to work on my own (this has also been done by Ian at Hypo-thesis a little before Jessica who can trace his lineage back to Newton). Starting at the obvious place, with my advisor, I realized quickly I had a bit of digging to do. My advisor only knew the name of his advisor's advisor (my great-grand advisor) but nothing more. A quick literature search turned up nothing so I had to go on the hunt. Here are the results of my endeavors. As with Jessica I focused on the PhD advisor since many people either didn't have Master's advisors or they are difficult to impossible to find.

This is me, Jim Lehane (1981-?). I plan on receiving my PhD from the University of Utah in 2013.

My graduate advisor is Dr. A. A. (Tony) Ekdale who teaches at the University of Utah.
Tony on the shore of the Gulf of California. Photo courtesy of Crystal Hammer.
Tony received his PhD from Rice University in 1974 with a dissertation entitled "Geologic History of the Abyssal Benthos: Evidence from Trace Fossils in Deep Sea Drilling Project Cores". His primary focus of research is ichnology and is well known for coining the phrase "ichnofabric".
Tony's PhD graduate advisor was Dr. John Warme who taught at Rice University and the Colorado School of Mines.  
John Warme's courtesy of The Colorado School of Mines.
John received his PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1966. His primary areas of focus are stratigraphy, paleoecology, and ichnology. 
John's PhD graduate advisor was Dr. Clarence A. Hall who is a retired professor for UCLA.
Clarence Hall's courtesy of UCLA
Clarence received his PhD from Stanford in 1956 with a dissertation entitled "The Geology of the Pleasanton area, Alameda County, California".
 Clarence's PhD graduate advisor was Dr. Siemon (Si) Muller (1900-1970) who was a professor at Stanford University.
Si Muller courtesy of Silberling, 2007
Si received his PhD from Stanford in 1930. He is best known for coining the phrase "Permafrost". He was also one of the few people elected to the presidency of The Paleontological Society who never published a description of a fossil.
Si's PhD graduate advisor was Dr. James Perrin Smith (1864-1931) who was a professor at Stanford University.
James Perrin Smith courtesy of The National Academy of Sciences
James received with PhD from Goeettingen, Germany in 1892. He is best known for his study of Mesozoic ammonites.
James's PhD graduate advisor was Dr. Adolf Von Koenen (1837-1915) who was a professor in Goeettingen, Germany.

File:Voit 154 Adolf Koenen.jpg
Adolf Von Koenen courtesy of Wikipedia

Adolf received his PhD from Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Berlin (later Humboldt University of Berlin) in 1865. His dissertation is entitled "De stratis helmstaedtiensibus oligocaenis inferioribu".
Adolf's PhD graduate advisor was Heinrich Ernst Beyrich (1815-1896) who was a professor at Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität.
File:Heinrich Beyrich.jpg
Heinrich Ernst Beyrich courtesy of Wikipedia
Heinrich recieved his PhD in 1837 at the University of Berlin (UB),  with a dissertation entitled: De goniatitis in montibus rhenanis occurrentibus. He is known as one of the founders of the German Geological Society and proposed the term Oligocene.
Heinrich's PhD graduate advisor was most likely Christian Samuel Weiss (1780-1856) from the University of Berlin and Georg August Goldfuss  (1782-1848) from the University of Bonn.

Georg August Goldfuss courtesy of Wikipedia
Christian Samuel Weiss courtesy of Humboldt University
Christian received his PhD in 1801 from the                           Georg received his PhD in 1804 from the University of Leipzig.                                                            University of Erlangen. His advisor is unknown.

Christian's PhD advisor was Abraham Gottlob Werner (1750-1817).

Abraham received his PhD in 1774 from the University of Leipzig. Abraham is known for advancing the "Neptunian" view of the earth, which stated that all rocks had been deposited in a primordial ocean.
Abraham's PhD advisor was Johann Carl Gehler (1732-1796). Johann received his PhD in 1758 from the University of Leipzig.
Johann's PhD advisor was Christian Gottlieb Ludwig (1709-1773). Christian received his PhD in 1737 from the University of Leipzig.

 Christian's advisor was Augustin Friedrich Walther (1688-1746). Augustin received his PhD in 1712 from the University of Wittenberg. 
File:Aug Fried Walther.jpg
Augustin Friedrich Walther

Augustin's advisor was Johann Gottfried von Berger 1659-1736) who received his MD in 1682 from the
University of Jena.

Johann's advisor was Augustin Heinrich Fasch (1639-1690) who received his MD in 1663 from the University of Jena.

 Augustin's advisor was Werner Rolfinck (1599-1673) who received his MD in 1625 from the University of Jena. Werner had 2 advisors. 
Werner Rolfinck courtesy of
The first one was Daniel Sennert (1572-1637) who            The second one was Adriaan van den 
received his MD in 1599 from Leucorea University               Spieghel (1578-1625) who received his MD 
in Wittenberg.                                                                       in 1603 from the University of Padua.
   File:Adriaan van den Spieghel.jpg
Adriaan van den Spieghel
Daniel Sennert
Daniel's advisor was Jan Jessenius (1566-1621) who  
received his MD in 1591 from Leucorea University in Wittenberg. 
File:Jan Jesenius.jpg
Jan Jessenius
 Both Jan's and Adriaan's advisor was Girolamo (Hieronymus Fabricius) Fabrici d'Acquapendente (1537-1619) who received his MD in 1559 from the University of Padua. He is known as the Father of Embryology.
File:Girolamo Fabrizi d'Acquapendente.jpg
Hieronymus Fabricius courtesy of Wikipedia

Girolamo's advisor was Gabriele Falloppio (1523-1562) who received his MD in 1547 from the University of Padua. 
File:Gabriele Falloppio.jpg
Gabriele Falloppio
Gabriele's advisor was Antonio Musa Brasavola (1500-1555) who received his MD in 1520 from the University of Ferrara.
File:Antonio Musa Brasavola.jpg
Antonio Musa Brasavola
Antonio's advisor was Niccolo (Leoniceno) da Lonigo (1428-1524) who received his MD in 1453 from the University of Padua. 
Niccolo (Leoniceno) da Lonigo

 Niccolo's advisor was Pietro Roccabonella Veneziano (1427-1491) who received his MD in 1455 from the University of Padua.


 Pietro had two advisors. One was Gaetano da Thiene      The second was Sigismondo Polcastro.
(1387-1465) Gaetano received his his degree from the          (1397-1473) who recieved his degree from the
University of  Padua.                                                            University of Padua. His advisor is unknown.
Gaetano's advisor was Paulus (Paul of Venice) Venetus (1368-1428) who received his degree from the University of Padua, although he likely studied with Pierre d'Ailly at the University of Paris.
Paulus' advisor was Pierre d'Ailly (1351-1420) who received his doctorate in theology in 1381 from the University of Paris.
File:Pierre d'Ailly.jpg
Pierre d"Ailly

Although the website says that the lineage goes on I believe it is tenuous from this point forward. And even further beyond those things get really iffy. Although if you keep following this line, eventually you get to Jesus.


I was stuck on Clarence Hall for a while and even got a copy of his dissertation to find out his advisor who nobody really seemed sure of. Even the dissertation did not specifically call it out. But upon finding out he was still alive, I just emailed him and my suspicions were immediately proved correct (very fast email response) that it was Si who was his advisor. Further work was easy on the internet, since there are a couple of biographies online that spell out everything I needed to keep going back until I get to Adolf von Koenen. He was a little more of an enigma to crack until I got his dissertation and was able to search for his name along with those mentioned in it (even though it was in Latin). I found a connection with one of the prominent names mentioned in his Vita at the end and found him to be mentioned as a student of Beyrich's. 

Although Beyrich's dissertation is readily available online (in Latin) it is difficult to make out who his advisor was. He studied under both Weiss (a mineralogist) and Goldfuss (a paleontologist and a zoologist). I would assume it was Goldfuss since he is noted as turning Beyrich onto Paleontology but Beyrich received his degree at Berlin where Weiss taught while Goldfuss taught at Bonn. This is why I put them both down. 

This is where I hit the goldmine. While searching for Christian Samuel Weiss I stumbled upon the Mathematics Genealogy Project and the which allowed me to follow my family tree back to the 1400's. I used both of these sources and when they agreed I followed that line further back.

Once you hit a certain point back it appeared that several people along my lineage received MD's as if they were PhD's with advisors. This is contrary to today where the MD is quite distinct from a PhD. And even further back from that most scholars were theologians and philosophers so it is no wonder that my lineage could be traced back to Jesus, even if I do find that a bit tenuous.