Monday, September 30, 2013

Awards for Amos, Not for Amy

A common misconception is that most scientists get paid to do science, where in actuality most scientists get paid to teach, but only get hired or promoted or respected because they do science. In fact, despite the fact that academic scientists are largely paid for their teaching time, that is taken into almost zero consideration when they are being hired... but that is a topic for another blog post. Today we are talking about GAF(C??), those magical beasts that allows researchers to sort of, sometimes, get paid to do their science... or at least get the costs of their science paid for. That's right, Grants, Awards, Fellowships and (Crowdfunding??), the last of which is a new and fancy addition to the triumvirate of other people's money that scientists spend so much time begging for.
Fake it 'til you make it baby.

2013-2014 GAF(C??) application season is almost upon us, which means Meaghan and Amy are getting ready for another round of talking ourselves up and finding ways to make their research sound important to people who don't know anything about it. And in a surprising* twist of fate, Meaghan and Amy have to work harder to get these than their penis-posessing** counterparts. We've talked about some of the disparity in hiring processes before, but now let's delve deep into the sad topic of GAF(C??) discrimination.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Summer in Paleontology

The summer is stuttering to a premature end as it always seems to do. In Oregon, everything is still smoking from fire east of the mountains and the leaves are all turning west of them. In Alaska it's snowing and they've begun to experience the phenomenon known as "nighttime." With school looming on the horizon for Meaghan, and 30 Days of Night coming for Amy, it's time to prepare: Winter is Coming.

But if you've been climbing in a cave or out on the mountains all summer like the Vengeance Team, you may need a quick catch-er-up on all the important goings-ons that went-ons while you were out of cell service. No, not that stuff about the hiccuping murderer or the fact that Bill Nye is busting a move on Dancing with the Stars. No, we're talking the really important stuff: Paleontology. Because what's more news-worthy than things that have been dead and stagnant for millions of years, right???

Wait. Science was happening and we weren't there??

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Squirrel Nuts and Guts

"Squirrels may be small but the meat is good eating" -Alaska Department of Fish and Game 

In our continuing quest to force our readers to aspirate their own vomit, we have decided to present you with photos and descriptions of a squirrel dissection that Amy and her boyfriend Kelly participated in a few weeks ago. Many paleontologists shy away from the fleshy bits, but not us: we celebrate in the goopy, meaty, nastiness. In fact, while Amy had many spectacular experiences this summer working at the Murie Science and Learning Center at Denali, one of the best days of all was when Dr. Link Olson came to visit and bought with him a cooler full of frozen red squirrels.

In case you haven't already bailed out with pre-emptive stomach acid in your mouth, here is your official warning: It is well known in the scientific community that staring at defleshed bodies of small animals can cause the thoughts "OMG it's so cute!" to pop into your head, which is a thought you can never unthink while looking at a photo of a corpse. NSFW.
Prof. Olson helps his students with projects on small arctic mammals including the red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus. The point of documenting and sampling everything is because these are all museum specimens. Not only will Dr. Olson's students benefit from researching these little guys, but also visiting scientists from all over the world can visit the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North and gather all sorts of data, whether it be on size variations, genetic sampling, or reproductive cycling. Amy and Kelly were cheerful volunteers in this very important process; Meaghan right now is examining the skulls of camels and sheep acquired and prepared in a similar manner.

It's not creepy if it's science!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Adorable Art With Dead Things

We've often described our decorational scheme as Serial Killer Chique, largely because as paleontologists we are both inclined to think of bones as beautiful rather than icky. To make animal innards palatable decorational choices for our friends and guests, we've started to experiment with different craft techniques.