On July 4, I finished a draft of the fourth and final part of Building Life, my popular-science book on biophysics. There’s still a lot to revise, based in part on comments from my editor and others on Parts 1-3 and, I’m sure, comments to come on Part 4, but nonetheless I’m delighted to say … Continue reading Book draft done!
Given that all university classes are currently being run on-line due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our science teaching journal club topics for the term are mostly focused on remote instruction. Last week’s article  was a 2019 study comparing different methods for preparing video-based short lectures. It was especially interesting for reasons that can be … Continue reading Two graphs about on-line learning
There are now no bookstores around the University of Oregon (UO) campus. Until recently, there were two. The two did not, however, go out of business — at least not in a straightforward way. One of the stores is the University bookstore. At least since I moved to Eugene, 13 years ago, the uppermost of … Continue reading A bookstore-free university neighborhood
Synopsis: I describe a short activity for high school students on visualizing protein structures and etching them in wood. Challenge: If you’re familiar with proteins, you might like to ask yourself before you get to Part 2: If you were to show non-scientists a few protein structures, which structures would you pick? 1. Background: SAIL … Continue reading Etching proteins — SAIL recap, 2019
The University of Oregon (UO) is yet again planning to increase tuition, this time by 7% for Oregon residents and 3% for non-residents . The exact number is now set, but when I first started writing this a few months ago it was not, with only a range given of 5-10% for the planned hike … Continue reading Keep raising the tuition (?)
I was on a panel a few days ago on “Teaching at a Research University,” part of a teaching workshop here at the University of Oregon. This is a large topic that impacts both students and faculty. On the student side there’s the question, pointed out in introductory remarks by our Associate Vice Provost for … Continue reading Incorporating Research into Courses
Our Provost at the University of Oregon has stepped down, and there’s a call for nominations for a new one. The search will be internal, i.e. the next provost will be a UO faculty member. Bill Harbaugh — economics professor, president of the University Senate, and muckracking journalist — tossed his hat into the ring … Continue reading In which I announce my candidacy for University Provost, and make a serious point about salaries as well
A remarkable graph I came across a few weeks ago, copied below, shows the changes in the numbers of students majoring in various topics between 2011 and 2017. Part of an insightful article by Benjamin Schmidt titled “The History BA Since the Great Recession”, it reports a sharp drop in history majors, a steep rise … Continue reading Local trends in college majors (Or: Do Oregon students choose offbeat degrees?)
The U.S. National Science Foundation ran an interesting call for proposals recently called the “Idea Machine,” aiming to gather “Big Ideas” to shape the future of research. It was open not just to scientists, but to anyone interested in potentially identifying grand challenges and new directions. I expect that most of the submissions will be … Continue reading What’s the big idea? Science!
Which University of Oregon department saw its number of undergraduate degrees awarded per year plummet from 82 in 2004 to 22 in 2008, before rebounding to 85 in 2017? The answer is among many that can be gleaned from UO’s excellent Office of Institutional Research website. After conversations in my own department (Physics) about numbers … Continue reading Guess the Major! (A quiz)