Wednesday, December 26, 2012

PaleoArt: Tinsel Toebone Edition

Life at the Vengeance Team household is always exciting and thrilling, but every once in a while it is punctuated by a moment that rises above the others. Recently, Meaghan entered her house to find the following beauties sitting out on a counter as if someone had ritually sacrificed a My Little Pony to the glitter gods. While she was briefly worried that a BeDazzler-wielding serial killer had left a tribute on her kitchen counter, the array of Mod Podge and Glitter Glue spread around it like a Tunguska event clearly indicated it was just a regular Friday living with Amy.

Below are Amy's sparkle-drizzled lovelies in all their splendor. Enjoy!

Bones were collected during field work in Dillon, Montana and decorated with Stickles and Liquid Pearls line of Rangers glitter glue. Presumed identifications include Marmot (skull and jaw bone) and Mule Deer (Toe and Astragalus).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ugly vs. Snuggly: Pretty Faces Get All The Love (And Money)

Both of these organisms suffer from diminishing habitats as global temperatures rise and the ice melts away. Both of them are the subject of conservation science, but only one of them is the face of Conservation Funding. Can you guess which one?

Sorry Mr. Stonefly, I guess that you hit every ugly branch on your fall along the phylogenetic tree. Maybe it's the feelers, maybe it's the glossy smooth carapace, or maybe it's the fact that that you ditch unwanted exoskeletons on rocks and rafts overnight, scarring Amy on her childhood rafting adventures. Regardless, while the noble polar bear gets funding simply by being fuzzy and well able to hide in a snowstorm, it looks like you're gonna have to go a little further to get some money to unmelt your glaciers. Sure, you're in line to be the first species listed as Endangered due to climate change, but have you considered selling your children to jewelry factories like your less-disgusting cousin the caddisfly? They seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.

Big pimpin' in the L.A.K.E.

But honestly, it's not the stonefly's fault. Humans are attracted to giving money to certain things, and top on the list is not anything scaly, slimy, or otherwise crunchy. No, humans tend to appreciate forward-facing eyes, big furry halos, and impressive sizes. When a charity wants to get in on the endangered species money pool, they hit us where it's so cute it hurts, even if the animal they're using doesn't actually make a lot of sense. For example, check out the collection of stuffed animals for sale by the Canadian version of the World Wildlife Fund. Half these animals are actually not "at risk" so much as they are listed by the IUCN Redlist as being of least concern! Perhaps the WWF thinks that the oh-so-gullible Canadians will be fooled by fuzzy faces that aren't endangered; maybe Meaghan's status as a half-breed prevents her from being overwhelmed by adorableness.

This phenomenon is known as using a "Flagship Species" to draw in funding. Genuine research has gone into understanding what draws funding for an animal. Being a mammal is big points in its favor, but if it's an amphibian it's gotta be weird. The conservation of the animal can't be a threat to humans in the area. Being big is a bonus: shrews and possums had better watch their disgusting little steps, because they aren't big enough to warrant public interest. A 2009 study showed that those animals with plenty of research on their conservation status recieved more funding than those without... but that research was typically skewed towards those animals that received more funding: a viciuous, self-feeding cycle that ignored the ugly and small in favor of the big and well-known.

Now to be fair, many charities distribute the funds they receive amongst the less-phenotypically-fortunate organisms, but many don't. In fact, in some cases it seems as though using flagship species actually draws funding away from the organisms that need it the most, as policy is often influenced by the same factors that determine the funding flow in the first place.

What makes an organism or an ecosystem worth saving is a topic for a whole series of other blog posts, but it is the Christmas season: time to donate to the less fortunate, to pay attention to the needy and the less blessed. In the Christmas spirit, Amy and Meaghan have trotted forth several visually-unfortunate animals that are in need of your help. To fund any of the following of Mother Nature's taxonomical Mod Podges, please click on the hyperlink of its name!

The Aye-Aye on a good hair day.
For some unknown reason, this poor creature has long been considered a poor omen in Madagascar where it is often killed on sight. Sure, it looks like the lovechild of a rabid chihuahua and an electrocuted bat with a balding patch of possum fur, and it was the inspiration for a particularly creepy episode of Primeval, but the gentle Aye-Aye is an imaginative lover (they mate upside-down!) and resourceful food gatherer! The Aye Aye has a single elongated demon finger that it uses to tap out mad beats on tree trunks and echolocate for its food! Having developed the evolutionary equivalent of a pipe-cleaner on its hand, the Aye-Aye is equally good at digging grubs out of trees, spooning out coconut guts, and flipping everyone around it the bird. Who doesn't love an animal that's physiologically forced to constantly re-enact E.T.?

The Aye-Aye: The Demon's Woodpecker. 


The tree was shuddering in horror the whole photo shoot.
The Pangolin is one of the few organisms to be entirely covered in fingernails, which when we started writing this sentence seemed like points in its favor. Um... well, it does mean that the Pangolin is officially the most cost-effective organism at a nail salon - 15$ to get its whole body painted, what a deal! And if crazy, claw-wielding ladies like Flojo can be considered beautiful, then Pangolins must be too.

Excess keratin is beautiful, guys.
 Unlike Flojo, Pangolins are barred from the Olympics, which is a total shame because they are amazing gymnasts. Baby pangolins cling to their mothers even when Mama Pangolin decides to climb on the ceiling like the girl from the Exorcist. They're like scale-covered burrs! But when you think about amazingly talented and bendy animals you think of primates and Biscuit because despite their incredible climbing ability, pangolins are discriminated against because of their looks. Also possibly because they smell like skunks. But neither skunks nor Flojo can dig straight through cement, now can they?

The Malayan Pangolin: A Fun Hybrid of Animals You Don't Like!


Tastes like chicken, with a nice sprinkling of volcanic ash and mutating fungus.
Since the only reason people like to fund amphibians is when they're frickin' weird, we thought we'd pick one that honestly is pretty standard. The most interesting thing about this frog is its name, which is directly related to why it's endangered: it is big and tasty. This frog suffers from a terrible middle ground: it is just delicious enough to eat, but not delicious enough to commercially breed. It also lives in the Caribbean, where its habitat is being restricted by volcanic eruptions. On top of that, this long-time native, first-time endangered frog is afflicted by the chytrid fungus which strikes the dual death blow of killing the frogs and making them even grosser to think about.

Check out the legs on this one! Mmm mmm delicious.
 The Chicken Frog: Not Quite Tasty Enough To Save.


Leader-Williams, N. "Animal Conservation, Carbon and Sustainability." Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 360.1797 (2002): 1787-1806. 

Sitas, N, J. E Baillie, and N. J Isaac. "What Are We Saving? Developing a Standardized Approach for Conservation Action." Animal Conservation, 12.3 (2009): 231-237.

Smith, Robert, Diogo Verissimo, Nicholas J.B Isaac, and Kate Jones. "Identifying Cinderella Species: Uncovering Mammals with Conservation Flagship Appeal." Conservation Letters, 5.3 (2012): 205-212. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Optimisim, Travel Style

Costa Rica: home of sloths, monkeys, dishes containing beans and rice, people shoved into clothing so tight they looked like the gently sloping wrinkles of a croissant, exotic new nauseating scents, geckos visible only to Meaghan's eyes, earthquakes, terrifying taxi drivers and hospitals. Many, many hospitals. And over the past week, we've visited some of the best of them!

Let's place you in the shoes of a Costa Rican taxi driver. To get into character, please imagine you understand a complicated language of honking, and that you conceptualize following distance as "I'm not touching their car, and therefore we're cool." Now please imagine you are standing outside the arrivals terminal at the San Jose International Airport, and you see this duo: a small blond girl with a concerned look on her face, and a tall brunette who is pale and sweating like Mike Tyson at a spelling bee. Unfortunately for you, she also has by far the greater Spanish fluency of the two.

"Donde esta la, um, hospito? Hospitalo?" says the blond to you.

"NECISSITO. IR. A. UN. HOSPITAL. POR FAVOR. RAPIDO!" snarls the brunette.

The taxi driver was eager to drop us off here.

This was the unfortunate way we entered Costa Rica this past week. It was Amy's first trip out of the country, with the exception of about 5 hours she spent in Canada that one time; it was Meaghan's first time visiting a country where she had studied the language at all prior to crossing the border. Was the trip a total disaster? Hell no. Sure, the only sloths and monkeys they saw were the currency the taxi drivers gave them as they drove to and from the Hotel Brilla de Sol and the Clinica San Miguel, but there were some great things too.

So cute, but not so cuddly.

So let's break it down into a list of awesome encounters that made this trip great, despite that Amy spent 75% of it trailing an IV bag and smelling faintly of half-chewed fried rice and Costa Rican anesthetic.

For one, this set the bar super, super low for any future travel. Literally, if Amy can arrive at a place without vomiting prior to touching the ground that will be a HUGE WIN.

For two, they survived a damn earthquake! Cuddled together, half-passed out (Amy from Morphine, Meaghan from Amy's overwhelming scent) on a twin bed, they looked up from episode who-knows-how-many of White Collar to find the whole world was gently vibrating them with, as Amy described it, the 'cool attitude of the local people." Of course, Amy was also on a lot of morphine; Meaghan felt more like they were a seal trapped in the jaws of a gigantic killer whale. 4.5, 10 km below the surface... essentially it was a NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE.

For three, they totally saw some wildlife. There were two genuine Costa Rican Squirrels, which admittedly were a bit more exciting when Meaghan thought they were small monkeys, but they were still pretty cool. Also, there were black vultures: just like regular vultures, but black! Meaghan totally stands by the whole gecko thing, even if they were too shy to hang out with Amy. Finally, there was that one cat. That  cat was pretty great - it spoke spanish!

 "I said Hola Gato and he came right over!"

For four, the people there are incredible. The manager of the hotel we stayed at was very kind, and very worried about us every time we had to return to the hospital. The secretary who spoke fluent English made sure to stay in contact with our doctors even when she was off shift, acting as translator via text. There was also that lady whose job wasn't clear, but who made certain to soothingly pet Amy's head and whisper "Shh, shh, tranquilla, tranquilla" for long hours late into the morning. The doctors were all (astoundingly) horrified that after four days in the hospital we were considering leaving the country, and insisted that upon our return we come visit them again; apparently one of them has a surfing sister who lives at the beach, and a cousin in the mountains, and we are welcome to stay with any of them.

Look at where we spent our vacation! Nice, eh?

For five, the standard of medical care was amazing. They treated Amy's pain quickly and efficiently, communicated well despite an extensive language barrier, and provided amazing care throughout the whole ordeal. Everyone we encountered was incredibly kind and helpful, and we couldn't have been better cared for. For many people, the idea of being stranded in a foreign country during a medical emergency is terrifying, but Amy and Meaghan want to point out that with every visit Amy was in a room with an IV and pain treatment within 20 minutes. Compare this to an Emergency Room in America, where you can wait several hours before seeing a doctor, let alone having your pain dealt with... and in Costa Rica, four days in and out of the hospital cost about a 20th of an American hospital.

Plus Meaghan and Amy got to catch up on White Collar... 

For six, and this one's the big one... Meaghan got to take a Magic School Bus Adventure down Amy's esophagus with the wonder of gastroscopic technology. It was simultaneously the most thrilling and horrifying adventure travel she's ever experienced. Watching the doctor lube up the tip of a gigantic plastic spider arm - we're talking nickel diameter here people, NICKEL DIAMETER - and shove it down her throat was slightly less on the thrilling side for Amy, especially as this served as an excellent opportunity to unexpectedly douse her stomach directly with a frothy horchata* medicine, which they had earlier served her in a snowcone cup... por el dolor. *Amy has repeatedly reassured Meaghan that despite the smell this did not taste anything like horchata, but like the existence of the geckos, Meaghan and Amy will simply have to disagree.

Re-enactment of Meaghan's role during the Gastroscopia, which was to stare in horror at the camera images and click the photo button whenever the doctor said "FOTO!" which was hard to hear over the sound of Amy's delicate and graceful* retching. *Meaghan and Amy also degree on adjective use here.

For seven, Amy got to see her name spelled like this on an official document!

 Please note that Amy's parents named both her and her brother 
with simplicity in mind, to prevent unfortunate nicknames. FAIL.

And finally, Amy got the ultimate revenge on a TSA employee. Sure, Meaghan and Amy may have both spent four days in the hospital, and only showered a single time that whole week, but it was worth it when Amy lifted her arms and that poor woman had to go straight for the armpits on the patdown. That one was for America, everyone, that one was for America.

Amy even learned how to de-clot her own IV!

But really, guys, it wasn't that bad. We're gonna go again, the worst has already happened, and as a bonus it turns out there's this place to tide us over. Next time we go to Costa Rica, we'll have plenty of practice cuddling sloths. We will be sloth cuddling experts. We'll have put it on our resumes, embossed it on our business cards, and created decals for our vehicles: that's how totally pro at sloth snugglin' we're gonna be by the next time we go to Costa Rica.

We're sure the Costa Rican sloths can't wait.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

PaleoArt Jello Shots Edition

In addition to being scientists, world travelers, philanthropists in very limited senses, and generally awesome, Meaghan and Amy are also paleoartists. Here are some recent works of brilliance, cast in alcoholic jello.

Diving Cladoselache

Indarctos oregonensis in tar pit

Stegosaurus demonstrating low buoyancy typical of pneumaticity-lacking ornithischians

Chondrichthyes in lava

The GRAND CANYON of jello shots. No literally, this is the grand canyon carved out of 6 layers of booze-ridden jello stratigraphy, overlaid by a final, nearly-toxic river of vodka and blueberry jello. You're welcome, everyone. You're welcome.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Science in Popular Media: The Internet, It Lies

Amy and Meaghan have recently come to the conclusion that all journalists are failed detectives. It's the same general job concept: both professions enjoy exposing crimes and scandals, wearing trench coats, and smoking pipes. However, when detectives get something wrong they lose their job, while when a journalist gets something wrong, they sometimes print a retraction. When a detective blows something out of proportion in order to generate some controversy, people think said detective is an idiot. When a journalist does the same thing, they get hired by Fox News as a sensationalist.

Exhibit A.

Recently Meaghan and Amy have been encountering the sour bouquet of incompetence that is science in the media on a more-regular-than-is-pleasant basis. From students asking when dinosaurs are going to be cloned, to their parents warning that the Yellowstone Supervolcano is about to erupt, the Vengeance Team are tired of explaining away the stupidity of their friends' and families' news sources. In order to avoid giving themselves ulcers or concussions from rage blackouts, Amy and Meaghan have compiled a short list of things to keep in mind when reading any non-peer-reviewed article on science.

1) What you're reading is coming through a filter.
Do not ever assume that the reporter knows what they're talking about. Reporters like all of us, are human... which means that a substantial proportion of them are intensely stupid. We're talking like full on, manatee squash levels of stupid: unable to interpret what is exactly in front of their faces because it may not meet their preconceived notions or doesn't match whatever will the article a green light of approval (see #2&#3). Sometimes, this stupidity is apparent if you're more cynical than the reporter; sometimes it's only clearly wrong if you're not.

Take the example of the second linked article, a scathing report on the discovery of a "Unicorn Lair" in North Korea. While hilarious, the article is written from the perspective of someone biased to consider North Koreans as hopelessly gullible peons searching to support their beliefs that Kim Jong-un is amazing and super awesome and rides mythical beasts. That level of filter and bias caused the author to stop at Exit Ridiculous and not explore much further; the next day the website posted a follow up after looking at some more of the details. The discovery of this cave, of which "Unicorn Lair" is a very loose translation, is actually more the equivalent of  finding out that a legend used a name of a real place, person, or occurrence. That doesn't lend the legend more credibility - it's just finding a bit more of the root story at the bottom of a game of historical Telephone.

Sadly, this was photoshopped. See #5 for details

2) The reporter is inevitably writing for people even stupider than they are.

Yes, just like all the employees at the DMV, reporters expect you to register somewhere between pretty damn to holy shit amounts of stupid.

So the knowledge that they put into their articles is not only filtered by their own stupidity, but is then boiled down so it would make sense to a mildly literate slime mold. Metaphors are a well-loved tool for explaining difficult concepts, but sometimes they get used because the reporter didn't really understand what the scientist was talking about. This happens in education as well; sometimes using a metaphor imparts a totally different message than you anticipated.

3) Being interesting sells better than being accurate. 
News articles must be sensational, unique and capable of attracting the population that also thinks Jersey Shore is classic prime time entertainment. That means that journalists tend to use words, ideas and general untruths to pull viewers into their venus fly trap of pretty pictures. This is most obvious when looking at headlines, which are simultaneously incredibly oversimplified and exceptionally over dramatic. Now, the Vengeance Team is no stranger to Drama and Dramatic Oversimplification (see any of our posts ever)... we just get all rageface when we see it's not obviously separated from science.

After all, which of the following titles would you be most inclined to click on?

4) "Expert" is a word without credentials. 
 One of the things that sells is controversy, even if that controversy is pretty much not accepted by the scientific community at large. The fact that popular media often capitalizes on controversy ends up with flawed or outright false information being listed with equal weight to genuinely researched information. They often do this by employing both Experts and "Experts" and pitting them against one another in a fight to the verbal death.

Expert is a very slippery term, one which is often self-ascribed. In the news, you don't have to have a degree or a work background to be an expert... you just have to have an ego and a mouth that spills out big words, particularly if those words are contradictory to common perception or common sense. Since journalists refuse to perform background checks on morons, you're going to have to do it yourself.

Recently, CNN invited a "pair of experts" to duke it out on TV over climate change. Their experts were Bill Nye the Science Guy, who holds 3 honorary PhDs and a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and Marc Morano, who has a B.A. in political science, has never published a scientific article, and is funded by organizations who receive huge amounts of money from gas and oil companies.

Just kidding! NEITHER OF THESE THINGS BELONG, because NEITHER OF THEM are Climate Experts. There are reasons why both of them were picked: Marc Morano is one of the few Climate Denialists, and he's wealthy and persuasive enough to avoid showing up covered in rotten tomato stains. Bill Nye is famous, super awesome, and coined the term "Science!" This makes them appealing for a 10 minute rambling debate, but it doesn't actually make them experts: they were chosen because they could draw people in, not because they were the best at what they were talking about.

5)  Those pictures aren't always related.
We know we're about to mess with your view of all that is good and true in the world, but it's time to pull the bandaid off and just tell you: sometimes Google isn't right. We know, we know - we gave you the red pill when you wanted to keep taking the blue, but it's time. To prove this to yourself, go ahead and pick an animal that you know a lot about. For example, sloths. Put that into google images search, and scroll down a few pages... are all of those sloths?

Now imagine you're a journalist suffering from the affliction mentioned in point #1, doing research on some sort of fossil animal you've never even heard of. You put your fossil name into google images and come up with some skeletons! That's how you get an article that's about dinosaurs that has a picture of a horse skeleton with glued on fangs. It's also how the two bits below were woven together, when having a elementary school student on staff would probably pick up the mistake:

"Fossil find: The discovery of the thigh bone of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Montana, USA, revealed patterns only previously found in the bones of pregnant birds."

6) Consider your source.
A peer-reviewed article means that people who are theoretically just as intelligent and qualified as you are read your article, made you rewrite it a time or two, and then said it was good enough to publish. An article from a website or a newspaper typically goes through at least one editor's hands, who is unlikely to be any more familiar with the content than the journalist was, and who looks to make sure there aren't any half sentences. Blogs often aren't looked at by anybody: case in point, if they were, do you think there would be so many damn curse words in ours? (SORRY MAMA)

The process of editing and reviewing papers or articles is important. Scientific journals rely on their integrity to be published, so when they mess up and somehow, somehow-dear-lord-HOW, manage to publish press releases named "could “advanced” dinosaurs rule other planets," they are quickly humiliated into retracting them. This particular example also relates back to #3: the original article was mostly about how molecules on Prebiotic Earth shared similar structure, but the press release focused on and amplified the crazier bits. 

In Summary
Hulking out about science in the media is not good for the Vengeance Team. While Amy does seem to live on a refined fuel of Top Ramen and Pure Rage, Meaghan is trying desperately to coax her to swap in some vegetables. Meaghan herself is already at her limit of apoplectic fits because all the Olds in Eugene are much faster bicyclers than her, so she can't handle the additional strain on her tiny, china-doll heart. Please, for the sake of Meaghan and Amy's health, consider your sources, consider your authors, examine their motivations, and don't ever assume Google Images is telling you the truth.

If you are a journalist or journalism student reading this, and you are offended and have works of your own that defy these trends, please email us! We want to reward good journalists who do their jobs, understand the scientific process, and don't contribute to our burgeoning ulcer problems. We know you're out there... we're just not sure where.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pseudoscience Limericks

 Recently, Amy and Meaghan have been forced to read some pretty atrocious articles. Navigating the world of science is tricky enough without bombs like these lurking about; to save you the trouble of reading, we've summarized them... in limerick form. You're welcome.

With a made-up ‘measure’ of masses
And an unreasonable basis for gasses
Some dudes did some math
And oh what a laugh
This “science” is straight from their asses.

"Could methane produced by sauropod dinosaurs have helped drive Mesozoic climate warmth?" Probably, they say; of course, their math also requires a herd density of sauropods 10x that found in modern elephants, and assumes that their gastrointestinal systems were similar to that of guinea pigs instead of, say, birds. Or reptiles. Presumably the pet store was all out of things that dinosaurs are closely related to. But leave out all the hand waving and math a kindergartener could do, you are left with... nope, actually, still a pretty shitty article.

There once was a stab in the dark
That ‘explained’ a human mark
Anecdotal at best
With “sparkle-hand” tests
This ‘hypothesis’ is still just a lark!

The factors were out of control
The concepts are therefore quite droll
Without better facts
This ‘research’ quite lacks
A message to placate our souls.

Did you know that Grandmothers only survive because they bake the best cookies? Also the reason that you're a dependent, moody, angsty, nervous wreck of a teenager for so many years is their fault; without them you could have graduated from zits much sooner. Apparently the author's grandmothers didn't teach 'em science as well as they taught them the best place to go giggin' frogs or pickin' blackberries, because this article left us with more questions than answers: Where are all the tubers? Was there some sort of potato extinction event we didn't know about? Also, what sort of control group could you possibly have for this - who's going to just let you kill all their post-menopausal ladies and then see how that screws up their kids and evolutionary history? Soft science man, ugh. Friggin' soft science.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An Introduction to the Vengeance Team

To understand this blog, there are three people that you have to be introduced to: Meaghan Emery, Amy Atwater, and Mary Anning. Let’s start with the ones that aren’t dead, because they’re the most exciting.
Amy Atwater and Meaghan Emery have known each other since before anyone admitted that Amy was just never going to grow into her nose. At the time, Amy was a camper at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Science Camps, while Meaghan was a counselor, sneaking off to get into trouble with Amy’s brother (who also sports the family beak).

Without the hair cuts, differentiating them is nearly impossible.
Meaghan later provided Amy with a snake she had raised from the egg, and their friendship fate has been sealed ever since that snake slithered into Amy’s possession (and promptly into her step-mother’s care, where it is now used to make house guests feel uncomfortable). Please note, both Amy and the snake’s bodies will be donated to science. Meaghan plans on never dying, so that’s a moot point.

Amy grew up a bit, while Meaghan came to terms with the fact that she never would and promptly began lying on all of her driver’s licenses. Today, they live together. They found each other once more at the University of Oregon where they learn about fossils and rocks. Meaghan is a first-year masters student while Amy is a senior doing original research on the cutest fossil mammals, Omomyids. Meaghan unfortunately has chosen the paleontological cow-patty minefield that is Oreodont taxonomy and diversity.  

Mary Anning, meanwhile, is still dead. Hopefully, if things go well, she’s fossilizing as we speak. In the early 1800’s Mary Anning found the first complete plesiosaur, the first British pterosaur, and she and her brother found the type specimen for ichthyosaurs. She was one of the most prolific paleontological collectors in history, and she spent most of her life on the beach scouring it for fossils to sell. She was an expert in the Jurassic Age marine sediments of England, and despite a lack of education or money produced many compelling pre-Darwinian ideas as to evolution, ecology and morphology of these organisms. The paleontologists of the day were wealthy, white men; she was well known amongst them for finding fossils and understanding their shape and function. Despite this, Mary wasn’t given credit for much of what she found or described. She was rarely published, and many of her ideas were stolen by the male paleontologists of the day. It wasn’t until long after her death that most of her many contributions to paleontology were recognized.  

Things are getting better, but they aren’t yet fair: out of the 19 professors on staff in the Geology Department at U of O, only 5 are female, and only 1 of them is a full-time Geology faculty member. Country-wide, women still make less than men in the same jobs, performing the same tasks. Sometimes it’s easy to forget this, or to sweep women into binders without much thought. Our culture doesn’t help – women are told throughout school that they’re not as good at math, not as good at science; they are told that their voices and opinions aren't as important. Whether these messages are overt or subtle, the sad fact is that it's 2012 and they still exist.

Fortunately ladies, Meaghan and Amy are here. We're intelligent, charismatic and unsurprisingly pretty good at math. More importantly, we’re very, very noisy. Ask any of our professors: we’ve got a lot of things to say (and nobody comes to your office hours anyway so that's not an excuse for cutting our post-lecture discussion off before we're finished, ugh!). In a time when male politicians are vomiting their stupidity all over the news, Amy and Meaghan are stepping forward to cough out opinions of their own (obnoxious, amazing, and otherwise).

We are female, we are scientists, and we refuse to be ignored.  We are Mary Anning’s Revenge.