Keeping up to date on Fellowships

I will try and keep my website reasonably up to date with news of forthcoming fellowships. St Andrews has real strengths in animal behaviour and evolutionary biology, and is a friendly and supportive community of scholars to which to bring a fellowship and develop as an independent researcher (recent such fellows at our end of the School include Nathan Bailey, Christian Rutz, Andy Gardner, Michael Morrissey, and Lauren Guillette). Keen-eyed observers will note something of a sex ratio bias there, and we are very keen to attract female researchers to St Andrews. One relevant fellowship call therefore is the Royal Society’s Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship, closing date 12th January 2016.

If you are interesting in applying for this fellowship to come to St Andrews, or for future fellowships to bring to St Andrews, please do not hesitate to drop me a line.

Nina Wedell interviewed in CB

Our friend Nina Wedell is interviewed in Current Biology. Dave first met Nina when he was the tea-boy at the Phylogenetics and Ecology conference at the Natural History Museum in the summer of 1991 (both of us were child prodigies of course). Happy memories of sitting outside the Anglesea Arms in South Kensington, being pestered by wasps who liked the Adnams almost as much as I did. If memory serves, I think that was also when I first met Laurent Keller.

Please go here to read Nina’s thoughts on her science and evolutionary biology more broadly:

Dave fully concurs with Nina’s thoughts on reading, reading, reading!

Females work for free from here on in

Today is Equal Pay Day in the UK. This means that for the rest of the year, women in the UK are effectively working for nothing. The male-female pay gap in the UK is currently 14.2% (as calculated by the Office of National Statistics). For further details please see this press release from the Fawcett Society. Incidentally, as the Fawcett Society and TUC will be moving Equal Pay Day next year to align with how it is “celebrated” in most other countries, women in the UK will be working for free from today, 9th November until sometime in late February or early March 2016. I’d like to say that UK academics buck this trend, but not yet we don’t.

Paper of the week: social insect sex ratios

This week’s Paper of the Week is Andrew Bourke’s concise critique of recent ideas from Ed Wilson and Martin Nowak concerning sex allocation in social insects (Andrew generously uses the word “theory” to cover these ideas). The paper demolishes the approach of Wilson & Nowak, showing – remarkably – that their ideas fail in the simplest of terms, namely by failing to satisfy the basic conditions of Fisherian sex allocation. (The Wilson-Nowak theory also fails to explain split sex ratios amongst other things.) The paper also implicitly raises two other very important points, especially for early-stage researchers. First, don’t believe everything you read, just because of the author. The great and the good can make mistakes, sometime big ones, and we all have to keep our wits and logic about us. Second, arguments often have to be re-made, even when we think that key theoretical constructs have been “settled”. So be prepared to re-make those arguments. Andrew Bourke has done us a real service by writing this paper, even if there is nothing “new” in it as such, just a clear re-statement of basic theory.

The paper is open access and can be found here.