• Cheating Lessons Part 1

    I’ve previously read Small Teaching by James Lang and recommend it to all college professors. So when the opportunity came up on campus to read another of Lang’s books and discuss it with a group of faculty, I couldn’t resist, despite a rather packed term schedule. Here are my thoughts on part 1 of Cheating Lessons by James Lang, in response to the reading questions provided by the facilitators of the group, Dave Musicant and Deborah Gross.

  • ISAL Awards Eligible List

    Every year when the ISAL awards nomination form goes around, I stress because I both feel it is a duty to nominate but also can’t remember all the great papers and projects that I’ve seen during the year and don’t have time to go find them all. Some of the categories are also really difficult to systematically find eligible papers for, such as the award for best student paper, since I can’t easily if a scientist is at the right career stage for the award.

  • Reading Recap September

    I’ve added a number of interesting books and papers to my TBR pile lately and even started a couple of them!

  • Dev & Doc: ReadTheDocs

    It’s been a busy summer full of lots of new functionality in Symbulation! I’ll be doing a blog post for each of these new features (and they’re already available in the code), but to give you a sneak peek:

    • Lysis and Lysogeny support in Bacterium and Phage classes
    • Free-living symbiont population
    • PGGHost and PGGSymbiont classes that enable symbionts sharing a host to engage in a public goods game
    • A new symbiont class with an ‘efficiency’ trait
    • The possibility of setting the mutation rates and sizes separately for horizontal and vertical transmission
  • Difficulties in controls in digital evolution

    I just finished reading The Surprising Creativity of Digital Evolution: A Collection of Anecdotes from the Evolutionary Computation and Artificial Life Research Communities by Joel Lehman and colleagues since I plan to include it in my class CS 361 Evolutionary Computing and Artificial Life this coming term. While reading, I was reminded of an experience that I had while working on my paper Suicidal selection: Programmed cell death can evolve in unicellular organisms due solely to kin selection which I of course forgot all about when the call for this collection went out, but I am going to record now!

  • Things to change (eventually)

    I historically have hated the idea of “there’s always room for improvement” and it’s only recently that I’ve thought carefully about why that is. I love the principles of Growth Mindset and have found them supremely helpful on my teaching journey, so it seemed weird that at the same time my skin crawled whenever someone talked about always wanting to improve. I eventually realized that it was perfectionism still sneaking its way in since if there was room for improvement, it wasn’t perfect, and it was unacceptable to ever offer a less than perfect class so I had to work myself to the bone to reach perfection immediately and then never need to improve again. If I could never reach perfection despite working myself to the bone, I would have to always work myself to the bone and damn is that a depressing thought.

  • Structuring Flipped Classrooms

    Even though I’m teaching remote/online, I still am trying for a flipped classroom structure where my students read or watch videos before class and then spend classtime working on hands on activities so that they can ask questions when they get stuck.

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