Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Alternate Careers for Young Scientists in Trump's America

Are you a young scientist about to graduate into a world where EPA scientists can't discuss their findings, climate change "isn't real", federal hiring is frozen, and NSF funding has been called into question a number of times and is undoubtedly going to be decapitated?

Why, you must be a bit worried about your career prospects, huh?

Don't worry, young graduates. We have some career pathways for you that we'd like to call "Alternative Service Post-Docs" that we think you'd be perfectly cut out for. Someone with your background in logic, reasoning, and (probably) statistics skills will be perfect for these jobs. They offer benefits, flexible hours, and are offered in all 50 states so you can mostly live where you want to - fantastic, huh? There's a bit of paperwork involved, but not as much as you'd think (and from what we've seen, some people in these positions get away without much reading at all). Without further ado, here's our list of top 10 jobs for upcoming science graduates!

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Paleontology of Big Bend National Park

Last summer was a busy one for the Vengeance Team. Meaghan completed her PhD, got married, and got the most adorable puppy on the planet. Amy crafted the shit out of Meaghan's wedding, mostly didn't cry, finally appreciated sheep (kinda) and then spent the rest of her summer working as the paleontology intern for Big Bend National Park in west Texas. Since we're paleontologists time as we mortals experience has no meaning, so we have decided to talk about Amy's Awesome Summer now, in the dead of winter, several months later (it's not procrastination on blog-writing if you can make up a reason for it!)

We've talked a little bit about our adventures in west Texas before on the blog when discussing field work, so this probably sounds familiar. But for those of you just joining us, here's the Big Scoop on Big Bend.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Post on Science Camps

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, indoorTo this day, most of Amy and Meaghan's longest term friends (including each other), come from outdoor science camps. Science camps, if you've never had the pleasure of attending one, are where fledgling nerds develop their inquisitive wings, and also finally find a group of friends that appreciate their "um actually" sense of humor. But in Oregon and a handful of other states, that science camp experience isn't limited to the nerds, but is given to almost all 6th grade students. In fact, Oregon just passed a measure supporting outdoor school funding for students because the experience is so important and formative for both young scientists AND students who've never looked at science as an interest before. Good job Oregon!

Trees, children, SCIENCE! This one's for Ty, since he never did make it in the OMSI catalog
Photo by David Levering

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Photogrammetry, a Don't Do This guide to 3D modelling

Photogrammetry is a technique that stitches together pictures into a 3D surface, which is quick and useful for paleontologists, and also really impressive to their parents (OMG IS THAT 3D? YOU WORK IN THE FUTURE AND THE PAST ALL AT ONCE YOU MAKE US SO PROUD).

One of the big advantages of photogrammetry over 3D scanners and microscribes is speed and information quantity: it takes Meaghan only 15-20 minutes to photograph a specimen at a museum, which makes her visits much shorter and saves her money. This has sped up her collection time so that she now has a dataset of hundreds of oreodonts and modern animals with which to do her dissertation - too much data, if you asked the rapidly-panicking grad student who saw all this work looming on the horizon last year.

One thing that Meaghan is chronically bad at is following any sort of verbal or written directions (worst navigator of all time), preferring instead to stumble blindly through making hundreds of her own mistakes. So since Meaghan is now an expert in "how to mess up Photogrammetry" we thought it was time to lay some of that knowledge onto you, dear readers.

Have you ever struggled to use the program Agisoft Photoscan to make 3D models of skulls? If so, you're part of a very niche group of nerds we here at the blog would like to address in a short segment we call "Dear Photoscan Princess," which is code for "Dear blogger who spent too much time in the basement at University of Oregon screaming at her computer," and also code for "Dear Meaghan." To save us time and effort, let's just stick with the last variant and answer a few questions that Meaghan made up for herself as a writing tool so she could write a blog post on how to suck less at using this program.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Meaghan's Tips for Taking Your Comprehensive or Qualifying Exams

In Meaghan's department, they're called comprehensive exams, or comps - in many others they're called qualifying exams or quals. These are mid-Ph.D. exams, and they are by far the most difficult and terrifying part of a Ph.D (except for trying to get a job after you're finished hahaha aaaaaaaaaaaaaah). Each department in each school does them differently, but essentially the gist is this: are you good enough to learn what you need to learn so that the department will ever feel confident in giving you a doctorate?