Author Archives: Joan E. Strassmann

About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis

Grading ruins teaching

I do not want to hear one more word about grade inflation. I do not want to hear one more word complaining about today’s students. I want to hear about why so many professors and teachers have decided we are … Continue reading

Posted in learning, Teaching | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The power of explaining someone else’s idea

In our short evening class we like to have time to think, time to write, time to talk, and time to share. When these go together well, it is transformative. Last week in the last class before spring break, we … Continue reading

Posted in Communication, Posters, Presentations and seminars, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Why are chalk talks so hard?

Have I ever heard a good chalk talk? Do they really even help us make a wise decision? I can think of some spectacular failures in hiring the right person based on the chalk talk in the past at another … Continue reading

Posted in Interviewing, Jobs, Talks, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Teaching effectively and efficiently: abstract writing

Are you happy with how you teach writing? Do you have a trick? The only tricks I have are to give good examples and to have students write a lot. Beth Fisher at a Wash U writing workshop convinced me … Continue reading

Posted in Teaching, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

How many hours a week can you work on research?

What are my colleagues around the world doing on this Sunday, a brilliantly sunny February day too warm for a jacket in St. Louis? Are they out hiking, bird watching, or cooking a delicious meal? Are they playing with their … Continue reading

Posted in Daily routines, Follow a scientist, Life in a biology department, Managing an academic career | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Have you figured out how to make a graphical abstract?

Figures make papers easier to understand. I love it when a paper has a flow diagram of what exactly they did, especially when they also say why. I don’t know why, but figures stick in ways that pure words do … Continue reading

Posted in Communication, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Thinking of starting your paper with a quote? Be careful!

It is a wonderful feeling to start a piece with a quote that means something to you. You can connect to someone famous who has said something much more clearly than you might. From there you can move on to … Continue reading

Posted in Communication, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment