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.
Thursday, March 24th 2011
Yesterday I submitted a book chapter and a journal manuscript. I have two substantial blog posts I’m working on, but neither will be ready for this week. However, I have been slowly accumulating Posts of Awesome that I’d like to share. I want to highlight people, writing, and topics that need and deserve more attention in the science blogosphere. I mention a lot of these things on Twitter, but I know a lot of my followers don’t use Twitter. So here goes.
If you have any interest in pregnancy, labor and birth, I do hope you’re reading Science and Sensibility. S&S is a evidence-based blog written by practitioners and scientists, sponsored by Lamaze International. I really like their more technical, informative posts on labor and birth, and today’s post on positioning during the second stage of labor is a winner. The writing is always accessible for layfolks, yet still provides great information for scientists and medical folk.
Remember that Wax et al (2010) article showing homebirth had a mortality rate three times higher than a hospital birth (and the sensational Lancet editorial)? A lot of folks came down hard on the article when it first came out, myself included, but two more pieces came out yesterday that call into question the authors’ conclusions. The first issue is that there were actual mathematical errors in the data (meaning, the data was probably entered into an excel sheet incorrectly), the second is that they fundamentally did the meta-analysis wrong. Wrong. As in, according to one statistician who had no stake in the story or topic, so wrong as to overlook all its other problems.
A few more spicy tidbits: cosmetic breast surgery is on the rise, and one county in Florida has a 70% cesarean rate. Seventy. Percent. Due to some smart marketing and bad decisions, a treatment to prevent pre-term birth that used to be affordable is now more expensive than gold.
Something a little more fun: older female elephants make better leaders. Here’s a video to go with the paper.
Finally, this is sort of ladybusiness, but as Dr. Isis points out, it should really be family (or even just human) business: Why it’s alright to not be your mother, a guest post on AGORA.
The reverberations from Jesse Bering’s post on homophobia as an adaptation continue. And the responses have been brilliant. I especially love Jeremy Yoder’s take over at his blog, Denim and Tweed: An adaptive fairytale with no happy ending.
And then today, DeLene Beeland shared this great post on Twitter: How to Queer Ecology: One Goose at a Time over at Orion Magazine. This is a beautifully-written, thoughtful takedown of the naturalistic fallacy.
Other things to read right now
Danielle Lee has two great pieces worth reading (and I found them both because of Greg Laden): an article on the contribution of Henrietta Lacks, and the Black community, to cell culture, and a profile on Danielle in a natural hair series at Essence.com.
I read this article today by Gina Trapani on her work to make the technical world more friendly to women and other underrepresented or new folks.
An interesting interview and review of the book Consumption, by Kevin Patterson: How western diets are making the world sick.
A piece on Impostor Syndrome at SciAm (behind a paywall). I don’t want to pathologize all underrepresented groups in science (because frankly, these feelings make sense in the context of environment, even if it’s desirable to move beyond them), but issues around impostor syndrome resonate with me.
The video for the MLK, Jr session from Science Online 2011 is now up. Alberto Roca, Danielle Lee and David Kroll are the fabulous panelists.
Things I wish I didn’t have to link to
Our amusement with Charlie Sheen just demonstrates how little we care about violence against women — especially certain kinds of women. Read The Disposable Woman.
Skepchick Rebecca Watson shares some of her hate mail, and why she doesn’t feel like internetting today: Why I deserved to be called an offensive bitch.
Pat Campbell reposted a twelve-year-old manifesto on gender and education that still holds true: The Gender Wars Must Cease.
Some LOLz and some cutes: a section I added because the last three links were so depressing
This first link doesn’t exactly bring the LOLz, but is an enjoyable read: Female Science Professor continues her series on Academic Novels.
Some great apes from Zooborns: a two new baby orangs, and baby chimp. They put my maternal instinct into overdrive.
And a LOLcat via Scicurious: I’z in yer papers, messin’ wit yer stats.
Wax, J., Lucas, F., Lamont, M., Pinette, M., Cartin, A., & Blackstone, J. (2010). Maternal and newborn outcomes in planned home birth vs planned hospital births: a metaanalysis American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2010.05.028
Editorial staff (2010). Home birth–proceed with caution. Lancet, 376 (9738) PMID: 20674705
Tuesday, March 22nd 2011
Looking for once place to read the best science writing of 2010? Want a peer-reviewed resource that you can show your colleagues that are social media naysayers to demonstrate the power of science blogs? Look no more: Open Lab 2010 is now available for purchase at Lulu.com!
Two of my posts on IVF were selected for Open Lab (to be put into one essay). I’m brushing shoulders with some very fancy writers. I do hope you’ll buy it.