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Senior U.S. lawmaker wants National Academies to scrutinize racism in science

senior u.s. lawmaker wants national academies to scrutinize racism in science

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A U.S. representative has called for a study of academic racism in all of its forms.

Robert Neubecker

By Jeffrey MervisAug. 11, 2020 , 2:15 PM

The U.S. research community may finally be ready to confront the “R” word.

In response to a request from the chairwoman of the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) is gearing up for an in-depth study of racism in academic research.

Previous NASEM studies have documented the value of diversity to the practice of science, and recommended ways to broaden participation by groups historically underrepresented in science. But the study proposed by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX) would break new ground, say researchers who study the topic, by asking the community to examine long-standing beliefs and practices that have marginalized many individuals and skewed decisions on what topics are worthy of support.

“There is structural racism in the halls of academia,” says Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and architect of the long-running Meyerhoff Scholars program, arguably the country’s most successful at preparing minority college students for research careers in biomedical science and engineering. “And it’s hindering …

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Titans Return: College of Letters and Science update for fall 2020 – UW Oshkosh Today

titans return: college of letters and science update for fall 2020 – uw oshkosh today

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In just four weeks, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh fall semester begins as the pandemic continues across the world. We’re sharing updates over the next few weeks from the deans of the colleges about what students and their families can expect. They also are letting us know about the latest programs and any new faculty and staff joining UW Oshkosh for the 2020-21 academic year.
This segment of Titans Return comes from Kimberly Rivers, the newly appointed dead of the College of Letters and Science (COLS).
Kimberly Rivers
What did faculty members and staff in your college learn about teaching online this past spring that may inform how hybrid or online classes will be conducted in the fall?Faculty and staff gained a great deal of experience from the lightning-fast transition to remote instruction last spring. One thing they learned is too many digital platforms can make it harder for students to stay on top of their work. That’s why one department adopted Collaborate Ultra as their online meeting platform in every course, rather than allow a plethora of options that may work well but leave students confused about what app a course is using. Many departments in …

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Don’t crush that ant—it could plant a wildflower

don’t crush that ant—it could plant a wildflower

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In return for these Aphaenogaster ants dispersing its seeds, bloodroot attaches a tasty “handle” that gives the ants a reward and a way to carry the seed to their nest. 

Alex Wild

By Elizabeth PennisiAug. 11, 2020 , 12:00 PM

Trilliums, bloodroot, violets—many wildflowers of spring in eastern North America bloom thanks to ants. The tiny six-legged gardeners have partnered with those plants as well as about 11,000 others to disperse their seeds. The plants, in turn, “pay” for the service by attaching a calorie-laden appendage to each seed, much like fleshy fruits reward birds and mammals that discard seeds or poop them out. But there’s more to the ant-seed relationship than that exchange, researchers reported last week at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, which was held online.

Far from just transporting the seeds, the ants are active gardeners, preferring some seeds over others and possibly keeping their charges safe from disease. “It’s becoming clear that it’s not a simple two-way inter-action,” says Douglas Levey, an ecologist at the National Science Foundation.

The importance of this partnership is coming into focus as well. In forests disturbed by human activity, where ants can be scarce, seeds may not …

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Chasing butterflies for science

chasing butterflies for science

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With an arm-full of nets and the joy of young, energetic volunteers, citizen scientists headed up Chief Joseph Highway hunting for elusive butterflies.

Every year for the past 11 the group has taken to the same spot the first weekend in August as part of the North American Butterfly Association’s (NABA) annual count. Chasing butterflies in the Beartooth Mountains may seem like frivolity, yet studying the different species and documenting population change is an important way to gauge the effects of a changing climate, said Bobbie Holder, horticulturist with the University of Wyoming Extension Park County.

“If we don’t know what’s here, we don’t know how to protect it,” Holder said. “And we don’t protect things that we don’t know and love.”

It’s a down year for the ornate insects. The weather has been hot and dry — a bad combination for butterflies, Holder said.

“When it’s really droughted and hot in June, plants [butterflies rely on] bloom early and die off. So those butterflies are no longer in sync, right? There’s nothing for the larva,” said Holder.

Butterflies have a very narrow range of plants they and their larvae use to exist. …

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Scotus Profiles: Annie Sokol’s changing journey to science teacher

scotus profiles: annie sokol’s changing journey to science teacher

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Penda Learning Releases 850 Online Standards-Aligned Science Activities to Support Rigorous Science Instruction in Distance and In-Person Learning Environments

penda learning releases 850 online standards-aligned science activities to support rigorous science instruction in distance and in-person learning environments

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“It’s very likely that every school in the country will provide some form of digital learning this school year — whether blended or fully online,” said Brad Baird, President of Learning 2020, parent company of Penda Learning. “Penda Learning was designed to engage and motivate learners as well as facilitate independent learning. Our newest activities and latest updates make Penda an even more valuable resource to ensure continuity of learning with the uncertainty that we’re facing in the 2020-21 school year.”

During spring school closures many districts struggled with how to provide support and services to English learners and students with disabilities. Penda Learning’s integration of Immersive Reader, a Microsoft Learning Tool, into the platform makes all of Penda’s science activities accessible to learners of all abilities. In addition to providing translation of more than 60 languages, Immersive Reader enables text to be read out loud, breaks it into syllables, and increases spacing between lines and letters. It also offers text decoding solutions and other supports for students with word-reading difficulties such as dyslexia.
Whether learning in school or remotely, teachers, students and families juggle dozens of online learning platforms that all require unique usernames and passwords. This spring, many students and their …

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Science doesn’t support claims about grizzly hunting

science doesn’t support claims about grizzly hunting

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As the governor’s Grizzly Bear Advisory Council (GBAC) works to finalize its recommendations regarding the future of grizzly bear management in Montana, it would be well-advised to follow its own guiding principle: “the best available science should inform decisions in all aspects of grizzly bear management and conservation.”A close look at what that science actually shows about coexistence with native carnivores reveals insufficient support for the notion that hunting seasons and lethal removal will reduce grizzly bear-livestock conflict or improve tolerance of grizzlies’ presence on the landscape. To the contrary, the science suggests that killing carnivores can make these problems worse.As a professor of environmental studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison and an assistant professor at Western Oregon University, we are well-acquainted with the scientific literature on predator management. We have been studying predator-prey ecology for a combined 80-plus years, and have published more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles on ecology, conservation, and predator management.

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Our research and that of other scientists shows that lethal management and hunting seasons can hamper coexistence efforts by reducing residents’ tolerance of native carnivores. Independent colleagues and both of us have examined public attitudes toward gray wolves in Wisconsin over a 13 …

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NASA drops ‘harmful’ celestial nicknames such as Eskimo Nebula

nasa drops ‘harmful’ celestial nicknames such as eskimo nebula

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