Welcome to my blog, Telliamed Revisited. I’m an evolutionary biologist. I’ll write about evolutionary science – past, present, and perhaps future – and some of the goings-on in the life of a scientist.
Why am I starting this blog now? One of my colleagues, Titus Brown, gave a great talk last week on “How to build an enduring online research presence using social networking and open science.” He made a compelling case for the value of social media for scientists that led me to take the plunge. So on Friday I started tweeting as @RELenski … and here I am blogging.
Titus spoke at the annual meeting of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. The meeting was superb, so I used some of my first tweets to highlight events where I could point to on-line resources that should be useful to others who weren’t there.
I tweeted about a talk by MSU professor Jim Smith on the Evo-Ed project. Jim and his colleagues assembled teaching materials about several in-depth studies of evolution. Each case has been studied from several angles, so that students can get an integrated understanding of evolution and its relationship to what they learn in other courses. The project site provides fact-filled sets of slides (which you can tailor to your needs) along with related games and simulations – for example, check out The Hungry Monkey game. And since all the information is there in the background material and slides, you won’t have to spend hours tracking down how an insertion mutation in the SBE1 gene leads to a change in the conversion of sugar to starch that, in turn, leads to wrinkled instead of round peas and how that phenotype affects taste and was selected by Neolithic farmers.
I also tweeted about an amazing film that was shown at the conference called the Ordinary Extraordinary Junco. Anyone with any interest in nature and science should see it – your kids, your students, your parents, your friends … and you. It can be downloaded as eight “chapters” from the website. The film was produced with NSF support by Indiana University professor Ellen Ketterson, who has spent many years studying the ecology, behavior, and evolution of juncos. The film is about the birds and the scientists who study them, but it also conveys a great deal about human nature – from the engaging curiosity of the scientists to profound questions about whether those juncos are really all that different from us in their interactions with families and mates.
The sage Hillel the Elder asked: “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” This blog will often be about me and what interests me. At the same time, I hope it will convey the excitement I find in the work of others. And as for when, now!
In a future post, I’ll explain this blog’s name …