Friday, February 25, 2011

ASP 2011 updates

The Scientific Program Committee would like to remind you that the deadline for abstract submission for the 34th Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists is fast approaching. Final submissions must be submitted at by March 12, 2011. We are very excited about this year’s meeting, as it promises to be of the highest scientific quality. The meeting will feature contributed paper and poster presentations as well as symposia that address wide-spread interests in primatology. We are pleased to announce our featured speakers including:

Keynote Speaker
Dr. Richard Wrangham
Department of Human Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University

2010 Distinguished Primatologist
Dr. Karen B Strier
Department of Anthropology
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Past President’s Address
Dr. Suzette D. Tardif
University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio

Interdisciplinary Symposium:
“Reproductive Function & Dysfunction in Nonhuman Primates”
Featured Speaker
Dr. Judy Cameron
University of Pittsburgh

This year’s meeting will be held at the Hilton Austin located in downtown Austin, Texas from September 16-19, 2011. The Hilton Austin is one block from Austin's famous Sixth Street nightlife and walking distance to entertainment, shopping and dining in the Warehouse Entertainment and 2nd Street Districts. It is within strolling distance of the famous Congress Ave. Bridge; at dusk you can witness 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats emerge from under the bridge and fill the evening sky. Additional area highlights include the Capitol Building, the Bob Bullock Texas Historical Museum (JNR: I've been there and it is really a great museum!) and the LBJ Presidential Library.

The Hilton Austin is offering special rates to participants in the meeting that apply for three days before and after the scheduled dates of September 16-19, 2011. Rooms with single or double beds are available for $139/night with a $20 charge for each additional person plus taxes. We encourage meeting attendees to stay at the conference hotel to ensure that ASP benefits maximally from the services provided. Please make your hotel reservations soon. All conference sessions and social events will be held at the Hilton Austin.

We look forward to receiving your abstract submissions and hope to see everyone in Austin this September.

Sue Howell and Brian Kelly
Co-Chairs, Scientific Program Committee

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Katie Hinde and Lauren Milligan are awesome!

Hurry for Dr. Katie Hinde (University of California Davis) and Dr. Lauren Milligan (University of California Berkeley! Their new article in Evolutionary Anthropology, titled "Primate milk: Proximate mechanisms and ultimate perspectives" is a brilliant review of lactation and milk synthesis in the primates, setting a new bar for evolutionarily driven milk research and exploration of the role of early life nutritional environments in the evolution of life histories. Elegant!

To understand the evolutionary forces that have shaped primate lactation strategies, it is important to understand the proximate mechanisms of milk synthesis and their ecological and phylogenetic contexts. The lactation strategy of a species has four interrelated dimensions: the frequency and duration of nursing bouts, the period of lactation until weaning, the number and sex ratio of infants that a mother rears simultaneously, and the composition and yield of the milk that mothers synthesize. Milk synthesis, arguably the most physiologically costly component of rearing infants, remains the least studied. Energy transfer becomes energetically less efficient, transitioning from placental support to milk synthesis1, 2 just as the energy requirements for infant growth, development, and behavioral activity substantially increase. Here we review primate lactation biology and milk synthesis, integrating studies from anthropology, biology, nutrition, animal science, immunology, and biochemistry, to identify the derived and ancestral features of primate milks and enhance our understanding of primate life history.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Anthropology without doctorates

I missed this when it came out (thanks to @AnthroDoula on Twitter for pointing out the InsideHigherEd report): the AAA recently released a study of the career paths of 833 Masters graduates in Anthropology. Among the many interesting findings:
"Among MAs working in non-academic jobs, nearly 30% have jobs that require education and training in anthropology (e.g., cultural resources specialist, ethnographer)."

"Among workplace preparation skills, over three-fourths of respondents ranked technical writing for proposals and grants as the most important skill for MA curricula, followed by project design, development and management."

"Overall, Masters graduates expressed high satisfaction with the quality, depth, breadth and relevance of their education and skill sets. Only 9% were somewhat or very dissatisfied."

From the Inside Higher Ed piece:
"People really felt that their degree was pretty central to their career," said (Shirley)Fiske (one of three co-authors). She added that respondents seemed to identify more strongly with being an anthropologist the further away they were from receiving their degree. It was, she said, evidence of the discipline's particular training and molding. "Anthropology, even more than some of social sciences, creates a distinctive worldview," she said.

It's wonderful the AAA is engaged in this kind of research. It's interesting that so many folks with terminal masters view themselves as anthropologists. Wouldn't it be fascinating for a similar study to find out how many anthropologists view themselves as scientists? Surveys of the membership, while tedious, could provide a more solid foundation for crafting long range plan and mission statements in the future.

Supporting future faculty - Mizzou postdoctoral program

A few weeks ago I wrote about the disparity between graduate trainees' job expectations and the realities of a shrinking academic job market. Drawing from a Chronicle of Higher Ed essay , I made some suggestions that could help reconcile that gap. The University of Missouri has recently launched a postdoctoral program that I think provides a useful template for the student-->professional transition. The university is funding postdoctoral positions for five of its own recent PhDs to develop courses in five areas identified by the Mizzou Advantage as core strengths of the university:
•Food for the Future
•Media of the Future
•One Health, One Medicine: The Convergence of Human and Animal Health
•Sustainable Energy
•Understanding and Managing Disruptive and Transformational Technologies
•Educational Programs

The university benefits from having non-faculty in teaching positions, but the postdocs also benefit from participating directly in innovative course development (not just teaching established courses) at a higher wage and greater stability than would be likely as an adjunct. The hope is that opportunities like this might help get grad students to finish their degrees rather than languish in the hopes the job market will improve. Obviously, 5 postdoc slots are inadequate to the size of that task, but if the program is a success (i.e. the chancellor keeps funding it and the postdocs themselves are able to land decent jobs afterwards) then maybe postdoctoral career support will catch on.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Updating the Search Committee

For those of you on the market, you may wonder when you should email the search committee to tell them about some new accomplishment. What counts? The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a good rundown of the items that warrant an email. Don't waste their time, but don't be afraid to share updates that have a reasonable chance of boosting your profile and landing you an interview. And just because they are already at the interview stage and haven't contacted you doesn't mean it's too late; interviews bomb, job offers are declined, chosen candidates don't "fit" when they come to campus. If you have done something that could bump you up the list of alternates, let them know!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MPIG 2011

A quick announcement to the BANDITs to let you know that MPIG 2011 is scheduled for October 14-15 at Kent State University. Details are forthcoming, but keep checking here,, and #MPIG2011 on Twitter for updates...

Celebrate Darwin with free access to Wiley evolution journals!

Received this email from Wiley-Blackwell this morning:

Free trial for 2011

We are giving away free access to a selection of the best evolutionary biology journals for 30 days.

Journals featured in this extensive trial include Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Evolution, Evolutionary Applications, Functional Ecology, Molecular Ecology, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Journal of Zoology and more… Set up your trial following these three easy steps:

1. Visit and login or register a new account*

2. Enter the trial code: yodb2011

3. You now have 60 days access to all the journal titles listed here!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Central States Anthropological Society 2011 meeting

The Central States Anthropological Society is a section of the American Anthropological Society and holds annual meetings in the broadly defined Midwest. This year's meeting will be hosted by the University of Iowa, April 7-9, 2011.

This is a relatively small-scale, student-friendly conference with very reasonable registration rates (e.g. $70 for AAA members, $90 for non-members). This year's Distinguished Lecture will be given by Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh which will undoubtedly be highly interesting and entertaining.

Browsing through the CSAS preliminary program, I was particularly struck by the session The Cat's Out of the Bag, and Clawing: Forum on Recognizing Science in Anthropology , scheduled for Friday. I'm really delighted to see this issue being interrogated in a conference forum and expect to see more of this at AAA 2011 in Montreal. There will also be a Professional Development Panel on the job application process which should be required attendance for all graduate students.

Review of the Smallest Anthropoids

Nice review in the AJPA of the Smallest Anthropoids: the marmoset-callimico radiation, edited by Susan Ford, Lesa Davis, and Leila Porter. This is a roundabout plug for the book, in which I have a chapter. And I am excited to learn you can get the book in Kindle format!

From the review by Jonathan Perry:
"When I took primatology, callitrichids were (more or less) divided into two groups: marmosets and tamarins. This is no longer the case. As detailed in The Smallest Anthropoids, it is clear that the last two decades have seen a surge in research on callitrichids, especially marmosets. The genus Callithrix has been split into two: Callithrix for the Atlantic Coastal Forest species and Mico for the Amazonian basin species. A new species, Callibella humilis, the dwarf marmoset, was discovered in 1998. Moreover, several new species of Mico have been described. This edited volume provides the current state of knowledge for marmosets and their closest relatives, but we still lack adequate adaptive explanations for many important facets of marmoset biology, from reproductive behavior to morphological variation."

Ben Auerbach and Adam Sylvester are awesome!

Dr. Ben Auerbach and Dr. Adam Sylvester have a new paper in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology: "Allometry and Apparent Paradoxes in Human Limb Proportions: Implications for Scaling Factors", pdf here.

"It has been consistently demonstrated that human proximal limb elements exhibit negative allometry, while distal elements scale with positive allometry. Such scaling implies that longer limbs will have higher intralimb indices, a phenomenon not borne out by empirical analyses. This, therefore, creates a paradox within the limb allometry literature. This study shows that these apparently conflicting results are the product of two separate phenomena. First, the use of the geometric mean of limb elements produces allometry coefficients that are not independent, and that when using ordinary least squares regression must yield an average slope of one. This phenomenon argues against using the geometric mean as a size variable when examining limb allometry. While the employment of relevant dimensions independent of those under analysis to calculate the geometric mean—as suggested by Coleman (Am J Phys Anthropol 135 (2008) 404–415)—may be a partial method for resolving the problem, an empirically determined, independent and biologically relevant size variable is advocated. If stature is used instead of the geometric mean as an independent size variable, all major limb elements scale with positive allometry. Second, while limb allometry coefficients do indicate differential allometry in limb elements, and thus should lead to some intralimb index allometry, this pattern appears to be attenuated by other sources of limb element length variation."

Indiana University Psych Dept. Hiring Visiting Assistant Professors

Indiana University-Bloomington: The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is seeking applications for up to three visiting assistant professors to teach undergraduate courses. The ideal candidates will be experienced instructors at the college level with an interest in adding value to the undergraduate program. We have particular needs in instructors who can teach introductory neuroscience, social psychology, and cognitive psychology, as well as introductory psychology. These will be 1 year appointments potentially renewable for a second year. The teaching load is 2 courses per semester. Applicants should have an advanced degree, a PhD in Psychology (or related field) is preferred, and documented teaching experience. To apply, send a letter of application that includes a statement of teaching philosophy and experience, evidence of teaching effectiveness, a curriculum vita, and have three letters of recommendation forwarded to:
Dr. Linda B. Smith, Chair
ATTN: Instructor Search
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
1101 E. 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405-7007.

Materials may also be emailed to with “Instructor Search” in the subject line. Applications received by March 15, 2011 will receive full consideration, and those received after May 1 will be considered until suitable candidates are found. Indiana University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Information about the department and the university is available at
Possible salary up to $42,000.

Am J Primatol Special Issue: Human-NH Primate Bonds in Primatological Research

Great special section in the current issue of the American Journal of Primatology: The Effects of Bonds Between Human and Non-human Primates on Primatological Research and Practice. Includes such intriguings commentaries as "Primatology between feelings and science: a personal experience perspective" by Augusto Vitale, "Being human and doing primatology: national, socioeconomic, and ethnic influences on primatological practice" by Agustin Fuentes, and "Caring for nonhuman primates in biomedical research facilities: scientific, moral and emotional considerations" by Kristine Coleman, and many more.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Human Nature and Early Experience at Notre Dame

The Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame recently hosted an amazing symposium on Human Nature and Early Experience. The speakers reflected a wide range of perspectives and included several prominent anthropologists, developmental psychologists, and primatologists including Agustin Fuentes, Wenda Trevathan, Steve Suomi, Douglas Fry, and Jaak Panksepp (I wrote about Dr. Panskepp here). Quite the lineup to explore a fascinating field. Why am I telling you this AFTER the fact? Because now you can watch the videos of all the presentations and share them with your students and colleagues. Sweet! Check them out at ACE's Vimeo site.

"The University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) sustains and strengthens under-resourced Catholic schools through leadership formation, research and professional service to ensure that all children, especially those from low-income families, have the opportunity to experience the gift of an excellent Catholic education."