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A brief introduction for anyone, besides myself, who might stumble across this blog. It really is a personal working blog. I’m a paleontologist and evolutionary ecologist at the California Academy of Sciences. One of my main areas of research is the reconstruction of paleocommunities and food webs, and the relationship(s) between those structures and extinction. It’s a very difficult topic for a number of reasons, some related to data availability, but mostly mathematical. I therefore tend to keep a series of notebooks, logging all my work. My working group and I also kept a wiki for awhile, but I simply didn’t upgrade it when I upgraded my lab server. As one of my other activities here at the Academy, I write the Climate Change Blog, and it occurred to me this morning, that perhaps I could use WordPress to blog my research notes! (duh). A quick search on Google told me that WordPress has \LaTeX capabilities, and so here I am.

There is a small danger in doing this blog. One of my colleagues always insisted that we keep our wiki private, and I agreed, because our unpublished scientific work is our own. So the danger is that by putting my thoughts and work out here in the blogosphere, I could open myself up to having my work misappropriated, or being scooped. On the other hand, if any of my thoughts are horribly wrong, then please, by all means, take them and run with them.

Okay, as a parting message from this introduction, here is a link sent to me by one of my graduate students yesterday (also see the video). It is a conversation involving Steve Strogatz, a mathematician whose work has been very valuable to my own. It pretty much sums up the difficulties with my own work, and is both uplifting and depressing. But, hard work never killed anyone! Wait, that’s probably not true.

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