Wednesday, July 6th 2011
If you’re on Twitter or read any other science blogs, by now you know that the Scientific American Blog Network has launched. And, I’m pleased to say that I am a part of it! Context and Variation has moved to new digs, surrounded by a network full of bright, interesting people with great communities and great things to say.
But of course, while I encourage you to check out Bora’s post where he introduces every one of us, I have to plug a few bloggers in particular.
First, the University of Illinois is the only university to be represented by three bloggers on this new network (yeah, we totally did a press release for it). Alex Wild of Myrmecos (you know, the guy who comes up if you just google insect photography) has created a blog called Compound Eye that will cover science photography. What’s exciting about this blog is that Alex, true to his nature, will be very generous with his space and will showcase the work of many other photographers.
Joanne Manaster, who you may know as sciencegoddess on Twitter, hosts the blog JoanneLovesScience.com. Joanne is a truly exceptional science educator and puts great attention on reaching young audiences, from exploding gummy bears, the science of makeup, and Kids Read Science programs. On the SciAm blog network, Joanne will be co-hosting a new blog PsiVid with Carin Bondar. This blog will continue Joanne’s work of thinking about engaging audiences and getting them interesting in science in new ways.
In addition to these great U of I bloggers, I also have to mention my fellow anthropologists. Krystal D’Costa is moving her fantastic blog Anthropology in Practice to SciAm. You can expect more thoughtful, detailed, yet readable and fun posts from Krystal. She is a wonderful observer of human nature, and I love how she forces me to be an anthropologist at all sorts of casual moments when I usually take my academic lenses off.
Then there is Eric Michael Johnson’s blog The Primate Diaries. Eric is another very talented writer, sharing insights from a great mind. I have enjoyed his posts on sexuality, primatology, sexism, and human evolution.
Oh, and need I even mention? There are lots of female bloggers on this new, kickass network. Check out The Mary Sue’s coverage. They’re right. The SciAm Blog Network does introduce us to about a zillion new women in the sciences. Incidentally, it does a pretty decent job of introducing readers to people of varying sexualities and ethnicities as well. We can always do better, but it is a strong start.
The people of this network have exceptional voices and important perspectives. And now more people will see what they have to offer. I hope you’ll all join me over at my new place, that you’ll check out the rest of my network peeps, and that you will enjoy helping me bring the ladybusiness to Scientific American.
Tuesday, June 14th 2011
It’s summertime, and as we shed our winter layers thoughts turn not only to love and sex, but also regulating menstrual cycles, understanding premenstrual syndrome, and potential population variation in the pharmacokinetics of hormonal contraception. Or is that just me, as a ladybusiness anthropologist?
If my inbox is a clue I am not the only person who wants good information on hormonal contraception. Many women are on the pill, and they use it for many reasons, only one of them contraception. Remembering to take the pill or get a new prescription, deciding on the relative impact of the current side effects versus new ones one might get from switching, wondering if it’s really doing its job, wondering if it’s increasing or decreasing breast cancer risk… these questions are like a buzzing in the back of the head at all times for many reproductively-aged women and their partners. And they want the buzzing to stop.
Let me see if I can help. Let’s make the summer of 2011 the Summer of the Pill. Every week I will cover a different topic or answer a different question on the subject of hormonal contraception, in addition to my usual posts.
Want to suggest a topic or ask a question? Comment on this post, email me, or @ me on Twitter.
The first post should appear by this Friday.
Tuesday, April 12th 2011
Biological anthropologists are a cool lot. We study bones, death, fossils, phylogenetics (how things are related to each other), hominin evolution, behavior, reproduction, physiology, primates, communication, cognition, genetics, migration and more. We study how these things vary, what produces their variation, and why that variation is meaningful. So the AAPAs tend to be a fun conference full of lively conversation, strong sessions, and engaged attendees.
Plus, you see a lot of people wearing sandals with socks.
This year, that particular population might be slightly underrepresented, because we are having the meetings in Minneapolis, where snow is predicted on Friday and Saturday. While that has impacted the wardrobe that will be crammed into my carry-on luggage tomorrow, I still expect a great meeting, because there are several wonderful symposia planned, a lunch event for women in biological anthropology, and a BANDIT Happy Hour on Saturday at 5pm. Julienne Rutherford has curated a great list that can be found by reading the posts under her AAPA label.
Me? I’m going to self-promote, but I’ll encourage you to do the same in the comments.
On Thursday morning you can find me in Session 3, the invited podium symposium chaired by Grazyna Jasienska and Diana Sherry entitled “Evolution and Health over the Life Course” in Salon C. The session starts at 8am with what looks to be a great talk by Beverly Strassmann, “Evolution and health from infancy to adolescence in the Dogon of Mali.”
My talk is at 9:30am, is co-authored with my former students Theresa Emmerling and Ashley Higgins, and is entitled “Variation in adolescent menstrual cycles, doctor-patient relationships, and why we shouldn’t prescribe hormonal contraceptives to twelve year olds.” I’ll be talking about what we know of adolescent menstrual cycle variation, what we know of the impact of hormonal contraception on different reproductively-aged women, and some pilot data from our focus groups on doctor-patient relationships. I hope the last bit will provide a bit of framework for understanding how and why US women use hormonal contraception in such comparatively high proportions for off-label use.
On Friday afternoon, you can find me in Session 31, the invited podium symposium chaired by Julienne Rutherford and me entitled “Eating for Two: Maternal Ecology and Nutrition in Human and Non-Human Primates” in Marquette V/VI. The session starts at 2pm with a talk by Betsey Abrams and Julienne Rutherford entitled “Risky business: an evolutionary perspective on placental nutrient transport and postpartum hemorrage.” I am VERY excited to hear this paper!
My talk is next, at 2:15pm, and is called “Pro- and anti-inflammatory food proteins and their impact on maternal ecology.” This talk is co-authored by two of my students, Laura Klein and Katherine Tribble. I’ll be doing a bit of a review of the literature to place this topic in context, and discussing some pilot data.
I may be biased, but the rest of this symposium is pretty kick-ass.
- 2:30 Yildirim et al speak on vaginal microbial communities and maternal ecology (University of Illinois research!)
- 2:45 Milich et al discuss habitat quality and reproduction in female red colobus monkeys (University of Illinois research!)
- 3:00 Julienne Rutherford has prepared a version of her talk to be shown at 3pm on energetics and life history plasticity in callitrichine primates as she is on maternal hiatus
- 3:15 Valeggia shares insights into the metaboliv regulation of postpartum fecundity
- 3:30 Nyberg discusses HPA activity in pregnant and lactating Tsimane’ women
- 3:45 Miller shares recent work on breastmilk immunity in Ariaal women
- 4:00 Pablo Nepomnaschy will be the discussant for the first half of our symposium.
- 4:15 In our second half, Hinde et al discuss commensal gut bacteria and breastmilk
- 4:30 Quinn and Kuzawa developmental trajectories in infants and later milk composition
- 4:45 Fairbanks shares her work on nutrition, energetics and vervet maternal investment
- 5:00 Piperata and Guatelli-Steinberg discuss how social support may impact the costs of reproduction
- 5:15 Dunsworth et al look at some very interesting data on energetics versus pelvic constraint in determining human gestational length
- 5:30 Finally, Leslie Aiello wraps it up as the discussant of the second half of our symposium.
Science bloggers and writers, like any of the topics above? Consider interviewing some of these symposium participants! You won’t be disappointed.