News and Links for the Ostrowski lab

Lab news

Lots of good news in our lab to report!

Our work on social cheating was recently funded by the National Science Foundation! 

Here is a write-up about our work featured on the UH NSM website.

Forgot to post this earlier, but here are links to write-ups about our recent paper in Current Biology: here and here.  

Other lab news:

Heather Votaw, the first graduate student in the lab has permission to defend.

Michael Miller successfully defended his thesis proposal and has an evolution experiment that looks to be yielding cool results!

Rafael Polo (undergraduate Honors) was accepted into the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (ExROP). As part of the program, he will carry out research this summer at Harvard University, in the lab of Hopi Hoekstra.

Maria Polo (undergraduate) will be working with Michael Miller this summer at Mountain Lake Biological Station as an NSF-funded REU.

Congrats and goodbye to Harshil Patel, who was accepted into the UH Pharmacy program for the fall.







Slime mold time lapse

Beautiful time lapse video of a plasmodial slime mold Physarum.  You can read more about the life cycle of this amazing organism here.  



How should you study?

I often have a hard time offering advice to students about how to study more effectively. And countless students tell me that they studied "really hard" for the exam, but still performed poorly.  

Re-reading over Powerpoints (rather than taking their own notes) is one major culprit.  Failure to work any problems, or to learn from working problems (i.e., not just immediately looking up the answer when they don't know) are additional culprits.

According to the article linked below:

"the majority of students study by re-reading notes and textbooks — but the psychologists' research, both in lab experiments and of actual students in classes, shows this is a terrible way to learn material."

Read more here.

Why research fails…?

Two must-reads for students who are preparing to start a project or write up their results -- how do you frame your research? 

Why Research Fails...

And a similar article, most useful for writing a proposal: "Why Student Research Fails"  

"Many student research proposals show an inadequate grasp of the literature, or failure to identify appropriate validated methods. Hence, they risk either answering a question that is already answered, or carrying out research whose findings cannot be integrated with current knowledge.  "  -- Ronan Conroy, Why Student Research Fails

Persevering through rejections

A great list of now-famous results that were initially rejected:

"Papers that triumphed over their rejections"

The list includes Leigh Van Valen's influential "Red Queen" hypothesis -- when it was rejected, he created his own journal in which to publish it.


Also an interesting opinion piece by Marc Kirschner on the "impact factor" in science:

"In science, faster, better, and cheaper are not as important as conceptual, novel, and careful. Focusing resources narrowly on areas that are deemed impactful, while ignoring many others, decreases diversity, making science less productive. … I also believe, along with Huda Zoghbi, that scientists must challenge the assumption that translation, rather than fundamental understanding, is the choke point of progress in the application of science to societal problems. They should work hard to encourage risk and exploration, while at the same time rewarding careful, thoughtful investigation. And they should reemphasize humility, banishing the words “impact” and “significance” and seeing them for what they really are: ways of asserting bias without being forced to defend it.".  

Read more here

Actual science vs real science

Very funny, but it is kind of a shame that TV often gives the wrong impression of what doing science is actually like.  Most things they show are either completely impossible, or would take years of troubleshooting to actually figure out.

We've come a long way, baby!

Wow, just wow.  


I've heard anecdotal stories about similar questions posed to women applying for graduate eduction as late as the 1960's or 1970's.  Isn't it great that we're so much more enlightened now?  Or will we look back in 50 years and have the same reaction about our current selves?  What's so pernicious about biases is that they are often so hard to spot, at least without the benefit of hindsight.

Read the full story here.