5 years of Sharing Science Documentaries

As a child I *loved* watching The Land Before Time. Over and over again. Every time I was heartbroken as Littlefoot is left alone without his mother. Every time Sharptooth was just as scary. Without a doubt this movie must have helped in some small way to shape who I am today. I still love finding tree-stars in the wilderness. That movie will be a part of me forever. But people remember some weird stuff from their childhoods. As an older millennials who grew up on VHS tapes, we remember the previews and commercials that came before the feature film. And as much as I hold this movie close to my heart, it’s not actually what I remember most about this tape. One of the previews for this movie was a Pizza Hut commercial with a mom dropping off her young son for a birthday party. She’s giving him all sorts of advice for how to behave and she reminds him, “Don’t forget to share. Share, share”. These words somehow got lasered into my brain. Anytime I hear the word share it’s like that clip plays in my brain.

As far as weird snippets of pop culture from my youth forever etched into my brain (alongside the Doug Funny theme song, and the (first two) Ninja Turtles movies) it’s not too bad. Sharing is pretty important. Sharing pretty much underpins everything we do here at Sweet Tea, Science. And sharing is why four years ago I created the best holiday a #SciComm nerd could ask for. That’s right the 5th Anniversary of Share a Science Documentary Day is upon us!  What started as a simple social soiree to sneak science upon some unsuspecting schoolmates and kindred spirits is still…just that. Really why mess with perfection? Continue reading “5 years of Sharing Science Documentaries”

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Managing Your Motivation

Staying motivated in the unstructured work environment of academia can be difficult.  For me, it has always been easy to stay on task during the field season because the summer ticks away regardless of how much I get done.  I have to be organized and get in while the plants are growing and the tides are favorable. As summer gives way to fall, I have often gone through productivity slumps.  This was especially true after I was done with my coursework and, more recently, when I was struggling with some mental health issues. In spite of these challenges, I have been at this graduate school game for (*gulp*) nine years now, and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to bring structure to my days and set myself up for maximum productivity.  In other lucky news, I have tons of smart friends who kindly offered up some of their best advice on a Facebook thread I started. Thanks Tanya, Jeff, Christy, Brendan C, Danielle, Haley, Kevin, Sarah, Brendan H, Anne, Vadim, Ashley, Chhaya, Jamie, Lyndsey, Eddie, Jessica, Caroline, Sacha, Becky, Bjorn, Carlos, Aviva, and Colin!

Here are my top tips for staying focused and productive!

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That time I told the bartender I didn’t want popcorn and he told me I needed popcorn…and he was correct.

Continue reading “Managing Your Motivation”

My #StatStud Starter Satchel Set-Up

The format for today’s blog post has been graciously borrowed from the Uses This website. This website hosts a collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done. I first stumbled upon this type of blog post on Hilary Parker’s old blog (ummm…I don’t think there’s a part 2?). Finding this blog post as a fledgling statistics PhD student was highly informative. What DO we all use to get our research done? I’m pretty certain if you asked grad students in my department they’d give  (at least slightly) different answers every time. And that is most certainly true as you get into most specific focuses (i.e. genetics data, theoretical statistics, etc). The outline below is certainly not the only/best set up, but it’s what I’ve got going on.

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Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Meridith Bartley, one-half of Sweet Tea, Science, and I am an ecological statistician. Ecolostician? Staticologist? I studied biology and ecology for a bit (well….six and a half years!  I have a Master’s degree in Wildlife Science and a BS in Biology) and now I am in my 5th year as a PhD student in the Statistics Department at Penn State. I’ve written about my experiences, daily life, tips, and reasons for this change of field a few times on this blog. I’m currently working on two projects: one looking at modelling the feeding interactions of laboratory ants we have video monitored (so much data!) and another exploring how to identify when one might be extrapolating in a multivariate response model with a neat application to lake water quality data. I spend most of my time writing code and manuscripts and trying to understand what the heck it is I am coding and writing. Almost all of my work is done either on my computer OR on scrap pieces of paper, which hopefully end up copied over to my “lab” notebook. Continue reading “My #StatStud Starter Satchel Set-Up”