Category Archives: Uncategorized

CSU’s Graduate Degree Program in Ecology gets high marks!

New data from the National Research Council evaluated Ecology graduate programs in the United States.  A web site offering those rankings is at Because programs differ in facets of their faculty research and training, there are a number of ways that programs could be ranked.  Using the NRC’s ranking system with equal ranking of their survey and regression data, CSU’s GDPE lands at the #18 spot (see the list here).  Great recognition for a program that we think is outstanding!

How does science progress?

We had an interesting discussion in Ecosystems Ecology today (ECOL 610) on how science progresses.  We listed the following processes by which science makes incremental changes.  These include:

  • Testing hypotheses.  Sometimes these results can weaken existing paradigms.
  • Development of new theories, hypotheses, paradigms or predictions.
  • Synthesis of previously disconnected sub-disciplines or of existing data
  • New observations
  • Acceptance of a new view (almost a social dynamic)
  • Emergence of “rogue” personalities who press a new agenda
  • Communication of ideas
  • New technologies for: observing nature, analyzing data, reducing the cost/difficulty of doing science, increased accuracy/precision in observation, conducting new experiments.

I had not previously considered the social factors.

Expert credibility in climate change

In the popular press, you often hear about climate change skeptics who are scientists.  But do these skeptics really know what they are talking about?  Are they high-profile scientists with legitimate doubts or do they quacks?  Today’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists contains a new analysis by  Aneregg and colleagues showing 97% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the IPCC conclusions.  They also find that the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers!