November 8, 2013

TWTW 11/8--Faculty of 1000 and Some Job Hunt Advice

Faculty of 1000 Recommends AmNat

Three articles just showed up in Faculty of 1000 recommendations:
1) Can Life History Predict the Effect of Demographic Stochasticity on Extinction Risk? by Tobias Jeppsson and Pär Forslund ( 
"This is a very interesting question of contemporary importance"

2) Evidence for the Adaptive Significance of Secondary Compounds in Vertebrate-Dispersed Fruits by Susan R. Whitehead and M. Deane Bowers (
"Fleshy fruits are designed to be consumed, so why are they often loaded with toxic compounds? Among the hypotheses that have been advanced to answer this question is that secondary compounds in fruits (and nectar) are by-products of plants' production of compounds to defend leaves from leaf-eaters...The alternative hypothesis is that fruit secondary compounds have specific adaptive functions....The elegance of the contrasting predictions and the clarity of the results combine for a very nice study."

 Photo of Lonicera × bella with ripe fruits taken at one of the study sites in Colorado.
(Credit: Susan R. Whitehead)

3) Heritability of Life Span Is Largely Sex Limited in Drosophila by Anne Lehtovaara, Holger Schielzeth, Ilona Flis, and Urban Friberg (
"...Remarkably, the authors find that the majority of all additive genetic differences for life span and aging among individuals are sex-specific, suggesting that the two sexes (a) have a markedly different genetic architecture for these traits and (b) can evolve relatively freely and independently with regard to these traits...."


Advice for the Job Hunt

A great resource showed up this week in Joan Strassmann's series of blog posts on what happens on a search committee and tips for job applicants:

What the goal looks like from the search committee's perspective:

"Hiring a colleague for the coming decades is the most important thing we do. We want to get it right. We want someone who knows how to get research on great ideas done in the foggy jungle of daily tasks that seem to be a full time job themselves. We want someone who understands that the nature of the job is not to forge ahead like a lone sailor, but to coordinate a team so others thrive."

One way a committee sifts through the applications:
and then

Tips for how to get your application to make it through the process:

Write a succinct, one-page cover letter (this is true for any job)

First say you are applying for the job and name it.... Say where you are now and where you have been. Second tell us what you do. You study this, this, and this conceptual area, using this organism, these techniques and approaches.... Third, tell us two or three really cool things you have figured out each in a sentence or two. You could mention the future direction your research will go, in a sentence. Mention teaching and advising enthusiastically, preferably by telling us what you have taught, whom you have mentored, and some things you might teach, though we are likely to have our own ideas on this, so indicate you are flexible. Close with some general enthusiasm about this position. Make sure you get the right university.

and on your CV, explain your role on multi-author papers:

Generally, try to put yourself in our place. Let us know what you’ve figured out that is creative, what ideas are yours and what ideas someone else had and you followed through. We want the story. We have a hard job to do.

And if your application happens to make it to the right pile, how to approach phone interviews:
and some questions to practice with

And just plain good advice to anyone in college: Cultivate three professors. She's absolutely right that you will need those references no matter what path you end up on

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