Vet school for an Oklahoma State grad at the University of Glasgow: The Beginning

From the Adventures of Future Dr. Z

via The Beginning

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Chalicotherium, strange prehistoric mammal — Dear Kitty. Some blog

This 15 September 2019 video says about itself: Chalicotherium – The Hoofed Gorilla-Mimic This strange extinct mammal is actually related to horses, rhinos and tapirs, but they evolved in a very distinct way, giving rise to some of the most unique animals that ever lived. If anyone knows who the artist is that did the […]

via Chalicotherium, strange prehistoric mammal — Dear Kitty. Some blog

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How much can you miss?

I’m always puzzled by students who habitually miss class. I don’t mean the students who are facing serious challenges of one type or another, I mean the ones who wake up and decide, “Nah.” The student – or someone – has forked over a lot of money in tuition and fees and, if for no other reason than that it demonstrates sloppy handling of investments, it seems silly to me to skip out.

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He looks so sad.

People are a diverse lot of course and the flipside is also true: I have students who drag their nearly-dead selves into class when they are sick and should absolutely not be there. But it’s the former I can’t figure out. They could be there and they should be there and it’s well established that missing classes can reduce your grade. I’ve often wondered though, how much can one miss before one’s grades begin to suffer?

It depends, obviously. Miss a day in one of my classes and you can make it up without difficulty. Daydream for 5 minutes in a differential calculus class and your entire semester could be doomed.

Just focusing on one of my classes then, I did some back-of-the-napkin figuring. This class meets just two days a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 75 minutes. I have a couple of excused absences built into the grading scheme, to accommodate the aforementioned students who might have to miss from being sick or getting a flat tire or had trouble arranging child care, etc. There are a couple of other meetings that are taken up with exams. All told, there are 26 unexcused meetings of the class for which testable material will be covered. So once a student has used up excused absences, how many more can they miss before they’re likely to drop a letter grade in the course?

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I think it works out a bit like this. To earn an A, one must grasp at least 90% of the material covered. With each unexcused absence, however, the student is missing incrementally more and more of the course content. Mastering 90% of 75% of the material does not produce the same outcome as mastering 90% of 100% of the material. Thus, with all matter of caveats and assumptions about linear relationships, equal amounts of course material provided per lecture, etc. it looks like missing even one more than the two excused absences in my course could be enough to drop an A student to a B. Missing two or three (so four to five total absences) almost certainly costs a full letter grade. Those habitual truants, i.e., people who might wrack up four or five unexcused absences? Even their most diligent efforts will likely relegate them to grades of C or lower. The good news is that this problem is readily corrected by the simple act of walking through the door. Go to class!

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Dear Christian Legislator,

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Originally posted on The Waterthrush Blog:
Look, I get it. You’ve been raised and educated in a society that values faith foremost. The stronger your faith the closer you are to God, and there is no better way to demonstrate…

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Professional development in wildlife ecology and management: A one-stop shop

I’ve written occasionally on the The Waterthrush Blog about various topics to help students succeed through their undergraduate coursework, find opportunities for research and field experience, pursue graduate school, etc. The advice I have to offer comes uniquely though the lens of my personal experiences as someone poor, ill-prepared, and ignorant of the path I needed to follow, but ultimately successful in realizing my goal as a research/teaching professor at a large university. My views are heavily biased but do provide the perspective of remembering what it felt like to be a struggling undergraduate student while today working to mentor students trying to navigate similar struggles. (Also, a lot of my examples focus on building a career in ornithology, but don’t let the specific subject matter distract you from the broader messages.)

This post is simply an effort to consolidate links to others on relevant topics so it’s a bit easier for folks to find potentially helpful content. If there’s a theme to any of these posts, it lies in my desire to make plain the things I wish were made plain to me, long before I ultimately figured them out.

  1. How to achieve academic success in college.
  2. How to write a cover letter.
  3. What’s undergraduate research about, and how can I do it?
  4. This is how you go to graduate school.
  5. You can train yourself toward more effective productivity.
  6. Hiring? Recommendation letters suck, so don’t ask for them.
  7. Where should we try to publish?
  8. Social media and academia?
  9. Uprooting for a faculty job.
  10. Sometimes PhDs wear funny robes. Here’s how to do it on the cheap.


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My lifer Whooping Crane – something I thought I might never see

It’s been a long time coming, but I was recently guided to my lifer WHOOPING CRANE by my nephews Benjamin and Matt Hack (+ special guest star Matt’s friend Kaitie) at a lake near Dexter, Michigan.

This is an ENDANGERED SPECIES that has been the subject of intense conservation management (including captive breeding and restoration of regionally extinct populations) for decades.

Thousands of birders in the US travel to the Aransas NWR on the Texas Coast where (until recently) almost the entire free-flying population would spend the winter. Come spring, the birds from this population migrate north to breed in Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, CN – it’s a lot tougher to find them there!

Since moving to Oklahoma, it would have been pretty easy to catch these birds in Texas, but I decided that was too easy. Instead, I tried to encounter them during their migration here in Oklahoma, which gave me a window each year of a couple of weeks in April and November. Of course I’m too busy in most years to even try once, and the attempts I have made have come up short.

Learning last weekend that there was a Whooper nearby in Michigan led to a decision. Abandon my goal of seeing the bird first in Oklahoma or take advantage of the chance to see one with my nephews? Of course, the chance to share this with my nephews won out and the lifer* was observed and marveled at for a good long time!

(*Technically not a lifer by ABA rules because this MI bird was a member of an experimental population the USFWS is trying to re-establish in Wisconsin. It’s not a self-sustaining population just yet so it’s technically un-countable as a truly wild bird.)

As we were enjoying the Whooping Crane (with its Sandhill buddies), an adult and then an immature BALD EAGLE flew in, wafting over the lake on long, wide wings. To provide some perspective for the young’ns with me, I described to them my thoughts as a boy getting into birding in the 1970s. I thought that maybe if I was lucky I might one day see a Bald Eagle. Maybe. I was, however, certain that Whooping Crane would go extinct before I ever got the chance to see one.

We need to celebrate conservation success stories more than we do. They take work, but they do work!
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One to watch: Nick Russo’s Ecology of Bird Movement and Dispersal

via Research

Follow the link above to the Nick Russo’s website Ecology of Bird Movement and Dispersal. Interesting work and a lot more to come I’d wager!

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