What we're reading: Phylogenetic analyses of diversification, how HIV crosses fitness valleys, and gorgeous science visualizations

Love For Books
In the journals
Morlon, H. 2014. Phylogenetic approaches for studying diversification. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/ele.12251.

A major challenge ahead is to develop models that more explicitly take into account ecology, in particular the interaction of species with each other and with their environment.

Da Silva, J., and S. K. Wyatt. 2014. Fitness valleys constrain HIV-1’s adaptation to its secondary chemokine coreceptor. J. Evol. Biol. doi: 10.1111/jeb.12329.

We have identified four fitness valleys from a previous study of fitness epistasis in adaptation to CXCR4 and use estimates of the within-patient variance Ne for different patient treatment statuses and infection stages (conditions) to estimate times to cross the valleys.

In the news
Cortex in Metallic Pastels represents a stylized section of the cerebral cortex, in which axons, dendrites, and other features create a scene reminiscent of a copse of silver birch at twilight. ” —Have you seen the winners of the AAAS/NSF 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge yet?
“Analyses like this are bound to come up with results that look like a caricature, since they are obtained in much the same way that a caricature is drawn, by finding and highlighting the most extreme and distinctive aspects.” —A cautionary note about clustering algorithms.
“When it comes to science, online news outlets are more important than ever, but newspapers are still key. … But what struck me was the importance of television.” —Breaking down a new NSF report on public understanding of and support for scientific research.
“If the ultimate goal is to evaluate a person’s true overall role as a scientist, I think we should be considering how they communicate with all people not just other scientists.” —A proposed “influence metric” would combine your h-index, social media followers, and press mentions.
“It is not hard to peddle incoherent math to biologists, many of whom are literally math phobic. … Similarly, it isn’t hard to fool mathematicians into believing biological fables.” —What can happen when you mix math and biologists.

About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy B. Yoder is an Assistant Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge, studying the evolution and coevolution of interacting species, especially mutualists. He is a collaborator with the Joshua Tree Genome Project and the Queer in STEM study of LGBTQ experiences in scientific careers. He has written for the website of Scientific American, the LA Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Awl, and Slate.
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