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She’s Making a List…

It occurred to me in November that my #ToReadPile was beyond overflowing. One of my friends* had recently published a very cool paper and it was receiving wonderful press, but between lesson planning, job applications, and shepherding my own manuscripts, I could not imagine carving out time or mental energy to read anything that wasn’t directly related to my own research. It seemed like so many amazing papers had come out in the second half of 2019, and I had barely had time to skim their authors’ twitter-ready one-liners, let alone their abstracts.


Friend of the blog Josh Drew has a December social media tradition he dubbed ‘OP12’ for Operation Productive December. I tweeted that I wanted to use #OP12 to read more this year, and one of my old field assistants piped up to ask about the hashtag. Drew explained on twitter, “[It is an] on-line accountability project I have to help keep me from falling into the ‘oh it’s the holidays’ lull and not getting anything done for a month. The goal is to be healthy but to also make sure we get stuff done, and typically I choose fun projects to keep me entertained.” I envisioned my reading list as a #25Daysof Fishmas or #RadventcalendaR-style project. Advent calendars are my jam — my birthday is December 24, I’m always down for daily chocolate, and as a pretty-secular parent of two young kids, I am here for a community-wide countdown awaiting a new baby**.


My original plan to pick ten papers from 2019 quickly seemed adorably naive after an hour cleaning out my #ToReadPile folder yielded over three dozen new downloads. I waded back in and narrowed the list to twelve. It matches the song, though instead of reading over the traditional twelve days of Christmas, I plan to read over roughly the first twelve business days of December, wrapping up in time to put the project down at the semester’s end and grind through grading. To make this a luxe reading ritual, I bought a loose-leaf tea advent calendar and high-graded it for the twelve best-sounding flavors. I pulled my twelve comfiest sweatshirts for a reading uniform and placed my favorite Maine candles by the reading nook. Now, instead of feeling hopelessly behind on the literature, burnt out and ready to limp into my thirty-sixth year like the old golden retriever who almost didn’t make it back in Homeward Bound, I’m looking forward to this pile of papers with a renewed sense of purpose. I’m excited to treat myself to a good read tomorrow. My December reading list will take me on a journey from my staples in plant phenology, mountains, and local extinction; I’ll dig into research on active learning and climate literacy, topics close to my teaching practice; and I’ll stretch into the culture of science, same sex behavior in animals, and big picture conservation and policy pieces.


Here are my twelve papers of Christmas, my readvent, my December literature review. Grab your mug and raid your own #ToReadPile or read these along with me. I’ll write about the journey, review the teas, and toast to a well-read December right here.

  1. Wynn-Grant, R. (2019). On reporting scientific and racial history. Science, 365(6459), 1256.1–1256.
  2. Perrigo, A., Hoorn, C., & Antonelli, A. (2019). Why mountains matter for biodiversity. Journal of Biogeography, 524(10), 300–11.
  3. Feldon, D. F., Litson, K., Jeong, S., Blaney, J. M., Kang, J., Miller, C., et al. (2019). Postdocs’ lab engagement predicts trajectories of PhD students’ skill development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(42), 20910–20916.
  4. Zettlemoyer, M. A., McKenna, D. D., & Lau, J. A. (2019). Species characteristics affect local extinctions. American Journal of Botany, 106(4), 547–559.
  5. Deslauriers, L., McCarty, L. S., Miller, K., Callaghan, K., & Kestin, G. (2019). Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(39), 19251–19257.
  6. Keenan, T. F., Richardson, A. D., & Hufkens, K. (2019). On quantifying the apparent temperature sensitivity of plant phenology. New Phytologist, 165, 73–8.
  7. Monk, J. D., Giglio, E., Kamath, A., Lambert, M. R., & McDonough, C. E. (2019). An alternative hypothesis for the evolution of same-sex sexual behaviour in animals. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 47, 1–10.
  8. Peery, M. Z., Jones, G. M., Gutiérrez, R. J., Redpath, S. M., Franklin, A. B., Simberloff, D., et al. (2019). The conundrum of agenda‐driven science in conservation. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 17(2), 80–82.
  9. Fournier, A. M. V., White, E. R., & Heard, S. B. (2019). Site‐selection bias and apparent population declines in long‐term studies. Conservation Biology, 33(6), 1370–1379.
  10. Delach, A., Caldas, A., Edson, K. M., Krehbiel, R., Murray, S., Theoharides, K. A., et al. (2019). Agency plans are inadequate to conserve US endangered species under climate change. Nature Climate Change, 1–9.
  11. Duffy, M. A., Hammond, J. W., & Cheng, S. J. (2019). Preaching to the choir or composing new verses? Toward a writerly climate literacy in introductory undergraduate biology. Ecology and Evolution, 55(4), 550–14.
  12. Catalano, A. S., Lyons-White, J., Mills, M. M., & Knight, A. T. (2019). Learning from published project failures in conservation. Biological Conservation, 238, 1–10.


*Hi Max!

**Pregnancy is tough; the last twenty-four days are generally terrible; Congratulations Mary, sincerely.


Banner image: Stephen Richie, Creative Commons

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