H.A.P.P.Y: How Are People Preventing Yearning in Academia?

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

Academia and university culture in general are high-paced, demanding environments to work and study in. In the UK alone, a Unihealth study identified that 80% of students studying in higher education experienced stress and anxiety. Similarly, staff and faculty are currently under tremendous pressure and the effects are apparent. A study for the Higher Education Policy Institute revealed that university counselling referrals have risen by three-quarters between 2009 and 2015. So it’s hardly surprising that universities are being coined primary ‘anxiety machines’.

Credit: Ramdlon (pixabay.com).

A multitude of factors can cause the kinds of stress being experienced by so many in universities. Unmanageable workloads, lack of permanent contracts, research exploitation, discrimination, sexism, lack of sufficient support and supervision, pressure to be successful and high competition are just some of the reasons. University bosses state they are aware of the issues and are actively working to improve well-being in institutions, but a lot still remains to be done to tackle the issues.

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International Women’s Day 2020: Retaining Girls and Women in STEM

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

Girls and women make up half of the world’s population and therefore contribute to half of the talent and potential on our planet. Despite representing 3.9 billion people, women are yet to receive the equal rights and opportunities which are currently provided to men. As of 2014, 143 out of 195 countries guarantee equality of women and men in their constitutions, but in practice this is rarely achieved for women.  

Gender equality symbol.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This year, the theme is #EachforEqual, highlighting that an equal world is an enabled world. One of the key missions for this theme is forging inclusive workplaces so women can thrive’. This is particularly important for retaining women in STEM fields. Ultimately this mission needs to start in schools, because girls as young as 10 are reported to feel ‘out of place‘ in STEM subjects.

This blog post features some of the initiatives aiming to retain girls in STEM fields and shines a light on how far we have to go before girls and women are treated and represented equally in STEM.

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New Associate Editor: Saras Windecker

Today, we are pleased to announce the latest new member of the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editor Board. Saras Windecker joins us from the University of Melbourne, Australia as an Applications Editor. You can find out a little more about her below.

Saras Windecker

“I’m a quantitative ecologist who started out as a wetland ecologist. I’m interested in developing and applying models for a range of applied and theoretical questions, spanning decomposition, species distributions, and more recently, public health forecasting. I’m interested in software development for scientists and thinking about how we develop literate programming skills and promote open science in ecology.” Continue reading

Blog Editor Vacancy: Work on the Methods.blog

The Methods.blog has been run by the journal’s Assistant Editor since it was launched way back in 2009, but that’s about to change…

We’re looking for a researcher passionate about communicating new methods in ecology and evolution to join the team and help take the blog to the next level. If you’re looking to gain experience in commissioning, writing, editing and science communication, then this is an excellent opportunity for you.

The Blog Editor will be responsible for commissioning and/or writing content for the Methods.blog. They will work closely with the rest of the journal’s Editorial Board and Editorial Office to determine regular content. We would expect the Blog Editor to be responsible for 2-3 posts per month.

This is a remote working post, so you can apply from anywhere in the world. We welcome applicants from any career stage too.

You can find more information about the vacancy on the BES website here or by contacting Chris Grieves. The deadline for applications is Friday 27 September.

 

Finding the Links between Prey and Microplastics

Below is a press release about the Methods in Ecology and Evolution article ‘What goes in, must come out: Combining scat‐based molecular diet analysis and quantification of ingested microplastics in a marine top predator‘ taken from Plymouth Marine Laboratory.

Wild grey seals. By Philip Newman, Natural Resources Wales

A brand new method has been developed by scientists at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the University of Exeter, in collaboration with Abertay University and Greenpeace Research Laboratories, to investigate links between top predator diets and the amount of microplastic they consume through their prey. It offers potential insights into the exposure of animals in the ocean and on land to microplastics.

An estimated 9.6-25.4 million tonnes of plastic will enter the sea annually by 2025.  Microplastics in particular have been found on the highest mountains and in the deepest seas. New techniques are needed to trace, investigate and analyse this growing concern. Continue reading

R-Ladies: For More Balance in the R Community!

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceForBetter. So, we decided that we’d like to take this opportunity to promote an organisation that supports and empowers women and gender minorities in STEM fields that still suffer from underrepresentation. As a journal, we publish a lot of articles on software and code that are used in the study of different fields in ecology and evolutionary biology. We have a wide audience of R coders and R users who follow us on social media and read our blog. With that in mind, R-Ladies seemed like a fairly obvious group for us to promote…

Post provided by MAËLLE SALMON and HANNAH FRICK, two members of the R-LADIES GLOBAL TEAM.

What is R-Ladies?

R-Ladies is a global grassroots organisation whose aim is to promote gender diversity in the R community. The R community suffers from an underrepresentation of gender minorities (including but not limited to cis/trans women, trans men, non-binary, genderqueer, agender). This can be seen in every role and area of participation: leaders, package developers, conference speakers, conference participants, educators, users (see recent stats). What a waste of talent!

As a diversity initiative, the mission of R-Ladies is to achieve proportionate representation by encouraging, inspiring, and empowering people of genders currently underrepresented in the R community. So our primary focus is on supporting minority gender R enthusiasts to achieve their programming potential. We’re doing this by building a collaborative global network of R leaders, mentors, learners, and developers to help and encourage individual and collective progress worldwide. Continue reading

Managing Stress in Academia: Tools and Suggestions

Post provided by Holly Langridge

Stress in academia is increasingly recognised, but knowing about an issue and solving it are very different things. ©Christopher Sweeney

Stress in academia is increasingly recognised, but knowing about an issue and solving it are very different things. ©Christopher Sweeney

Sometimes stress can be anticipated, avoided or mitigated. Other times, it sneaks up on you and sucker punches you in the face. A quick google search turns up loads of articles and op-eds on the topic – this, this and this are just three of the first examples I found. Stats abound on the negative effect it can have on students, staff and productivity. Mental health problems and stress in academia are increasingly recognised, but knowing about an issue and solving it are very different things.

My lab at the University of Manchester is fairly big and busy. Headed by the current BES president, and with over 30 people, and many millions of pounds in funding, it can be a stressful place. I am by no means an expert in stress, but I can tell you about my personal experiences and some of the ways that the University of Manchester helps staff and students deal with stress here. Continue reading

New Associate Editor: Laura Graham

Today, we are pleased to announce the latest new member of the Methods in Ecology and Evolution Associate Editor Board. Laura Graham joins us from the University of Southampton, UK as an Applications Editor. You can find out a little more about her below.

Laura Graham

“I’m a quantitative ecologist interested in how anthropogenic changes such as climate change and habitat loss affect global ecosystems, and how this in turn affects human well-being. I develop computational methods for spatial ecology to facilitate the reproducible analysis of social-ecological systems and ecosystem services. I’m interested in using novel statistical methods and heterogeneous sources of data to answer applied and theoretical questions.” Continue reading

Meet the Editor: Bob O’Hara

We’re just days aware from the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting. That means it’s time to meet our fourth Senior Editor: Bob O’Hara

What can you tell us about the first paper you published?
I got the sub-species name wrong in the first sentence of the introduction. This is why it’s good I’m not a taxonomist.

Who inspired you most as a student?
I’m not sure. I guess the writers of all those wonderful 70s Am. Nat. papers, when they did theory without the use of computers.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be?
The ability to be organised. Also hte ability to type without typos.

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Meet the Editor: Rob Freckleton

Today, we’re finding out a bit more about Methods in Ecology and Evolution‘s Executive (and founding) Editor, Rob Freckleton.

Please share a [funny] story about a paper you had rejected.
I had a paper rejected (from a journal that will remain nameless) – so I submitted it to Functional Ecology and it won the Haldane prize for best paper by a young author. I had another that was rejected from that journal and subsequently published in Functional Ecology that directly got me a job! Another amusing anecdote from around the same time: a third paper was not rejected, but I was accidentally forwarded some correspondence from the Editor with some (very non-flattering) opinions of me & my co-author… that paper went on to get >300 citations; and the Editor apologised fulsomely and unreservedly, to their great credit. And I’m not specifically knocking the journal in question: I just send a lot of papers there so have a lot of stories!
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