Blois Paleoecology Lab

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Yearly Archives: 2013


A recent trend amongst the scientists I follow on twitter is to calculate our gender gaps in authorship (see #MyGenderGap). This interesting trend is in response to a recent article in Nature, and a challenge for each of us to calculate our own data and turn our glare on our own house. I decided to take on the challenge and look at my own publishing patterns.

This was an interesting exercise for me. My lifetime gender ratio among unique collaborators is low: 0.375. Overall, I’ve published with 64 men and 24 women. My per paper ratio is higher, 0.98. The trends have changed through time (see the figure). During my dissertation, with a female advisor, my per-paper ratios were generally high and I had two papers with all female authors (the starred years, which I just divided by 1 for purposes of plotting). However, during my postdoc I was on a project with four male PIs, and published primarily with men. For the two papers I consider “new” projects not related to my postdoc or dissertation, my ratios are better: 1 (Blois et al., Science, 2013) and 0.57 (Blois et al. Ecography, in review). Another encouraging sign for me is that among the papers of which I am the first author, my gender ratio is 1.26, whereas for papers where I am simply one among many co-authors, the gender ratio is 0.69.

Gender ratio (M:F) of each of the papers on which I'm a co-author.  The starred publications had all female authors, and so the numbers presented are artificially low.

Gender ratio (M:F) of each of the papers on which I’m a co-author. The starred publications had all female authors, and so the numbers presented are artificially low.

Of course, there are many ways besides counting co-authors to quantify #MyGenderGap and contribute towards reducing it. For example, many of the commenters on twitter have calculated their gender gap among grad students, undergrads, etc. My sense is that if I quantified the ratio amongst my field assistants, the ratio would skew female, but it would be nice to have data to back up this perception.

I also feel like this is a particularly good exercise for the end of the year. It’s a nice way to both reflect on all the work I’ve accomplished (and remind myself that I have actually accomplished some good stuff), as well as a way to reflect on ways I could be doing better.

Travel, travel, travel

It’s been a very busy fall, for me and for the lab.

The fall has been a period of building up the lab.  In August we welcomed our first grad student, Eric Williams, into the lab.  And then in October, Juliane Liberto joined the lab to help us sort through fossils.  Finally, Kaitlin Maguire will be joining the lab in January as a postdoc on the “Modeling biotic interactions”  project.

For me (Jessica), this fall has also meant a lot of travel!  In September, I spent two weeks in Palau working on a project to look at whether parallel processes create parallel patterns in diversity at many levels: taxonomic diversity, functional diversity, and genetic diversity.  This is a large project with lots of different people and cool research on different systems and different scales.  We’ve got microbial ecologists (Mike Beman, Jesse Wilson), evolutionary ecologists (Mike Dawson, Sharon Patris), paleoclimatologists (Julian Sachs and Tessa McGee), and paleoecologists (me, Jere Lipps) on the team. It is a fantastic project, great people, and I’m looking forward to learning more about this system in the years to come.

This year, I tagged along with Julian Sachs as he and his team retrieved sediment cores from the bottom of several marine lakes.  Another paleoecologist, Simon Haberle from ANU was there as well and will work up pollen data from several of the cores.  I had fun hiking into and out of the lakes, learning more about coring and sectioning cores in field, and doing modern biodiversity surveys on some of the lakes as well.  We are already starting to plan field work for next year, and I’m looking forward to working with the data coming out of the system!

This fall also means a lot of other travel for me.  I just got back from a fantastic visit to U. Chicago, where I gave a seminar in the GeoSci seminar series.  I had great conversations with the paleobiologists there, and got to talk to lots of bright grad students doing interesting work.

Next week I travel to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, then I’m headed to the IBS Geography of Species Associations meeting in Montreal.  While in Canada, I’ll make a quick visit to York University in Toronto to give a talk in the Biology seminar series and visit my friend Sapna Sharma’s lab.  Finally, I’m giving a seminar in the Integrative Biology seminar series at Berkeley right after returning from Canada.

Summer is coming to an end

Whew.  It’s been a busy summer!  Classes started this week and it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect a bit on what I was up to over the summer.

I started out by visiting the Smithsonian for a working group meeting.  Read more about my visit and thoughts on working groups in general here. I also got to travel to Lassen National Park, Yosemite National Park twice, Wagon Caves and the Ventana Wilderness, a cave outside of Santa Cruz, and Point Reyes/Tomales Bay for a kayak/camping trip. More locally, I’ve also been out to the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge twice.  These trips were a mix of personal and work trips, but the great thing about my job is that work trips are usually a blast!  So I’ve had a busy, but fantastic, summer.  I feel like I’m fully embracing life back in the west and experiencing all that California has to offer.


Wagon Caves Research Natural Area

In between these trips, I’ve been balancing work on three papers, preparing for field work in Palau (more on that trip when I return at the end of September), ordering supplies and equipment for my lab, and welcoming my first grad student (Eric Williams). 

I’m not scheduled to teach this fall, so I’m continuing the travel theme.  I’ve got trips to Palau (fieldwork for a Dimensions of Biodiversity project with Mike Dawson, Mike Beman, and colleagues), the Vert Paleo meetings in Los Angeles, the IBS meeting in Montreal, and seminar talks in the Dept of Geophysical Sciences at University of Chicago, York University in Toronto, and the Integrative Biology seminar series at UC Berkeley. I’m looking forward to a fun and productive fall!