Profile

Cover photo
Amber Kerr
Works at University of California, Berkeley
Attends University of California, Berkeley
Lives in Mountain View, California
468 followers|92,536 views
AboutPostsPhotosVideosReviews

Stream

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
President Trump claims to be a savvy businessman. You'd think he'd care about what business leaders and economists have to say on climate change. But no, he was too busy deleting the White House climate change web portal to listen...
1
Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is really fascinating! Not only is it of interest to me as a mother, but it would be a thought-provoking case study for a class on evolution: it explains mathematically why evolution has "allowed" a significant fraction of human mothers and babies to perish during the birth process in the absence of medical intervention.

It happens because there are tangible benefits to being a big father, a narrow-pelvised mother, and a baby with a large head... up to a point. And that failure point is reached abruptly (hence "cliff-edge model"), whereas the actual distributions of these physical characteristics are bell-shaped. Nature can be cruel. Thank goodness for C-sections.

As an interesting footnote, the authors estimate that C-sections, by removing this selective pressure, have "increased fetopelvic disproportion by 10-20%" in recent decades. But since the alternative is those mothers and/or babies dying, I think we're all OK with that...
1
Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
A well-reasoned piece by the director of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). He points out that although giving up animal products can be a good thing for rich Westerners, the approach doesn't necessarily scale well to the whole globe. Livestock can use resources that would otherwise be wasted (e.g., non-arable rangeland) and will probably always have in important role to play - culturally, nutritionally, and ecologically - in many parts of the world. I just hope that humanity continues to make progress in treating our livestock more compassionately and using animal products more sparingly.
1
Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
A tidbit for #scienceisnotawesome: 20% of genetics papers that provided supplementary information in the form of Excel spreadsheets were found to have errors caused by Excel, such as auto-formatting gene names as dates (e.g., SEP2). D'oh! 
Excel's default settings are causing scientific screw-ups
2
1
Rex Kerr's profile photoAmber Kerr's profile photo
2 comments
 
I've used Excel for lots of (straightforward) scientific work, and pretty successfully, I think. If one is familiar enough with Excel's formatting and other foibles to be on the lookout for them, then it can be a useful graphical interface for organization and analysis of modest amounts of data. That's a big if, though. (And I don't think the sorts of genetic analyses described in this article would lend themselves well to Excel - sounds like a cop-out for someone who couldn't be bothered to learn R or another language.)

Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
Here's a gem for my #scienceisnotawesome collection. This thoughtful, well-researched, eloquent article was written by Will Wilson, who just happens to be my neighbor across the street. Many other scientists I know would agree with these critiques, whereas (as Will points out) the cultish phenomenon of "scientism" - i.e., a monomaniacally optimistic view of science - mostly ends up being championed by non-scientists.
The problem with ­science is that so much of it simply isn’t. Last summer, the Open Science . . . .
1
John Corbett's profile photoAmber Kerr's profile photo
4 comments
 
Hmm. That's not how I read it at all, John. I suppose the fact that this article is published in a journal on "religion and public life" could lead one to presuppose that the article's goal is - subtly or otherwise - to undermine science in favor of religion. But I really do not think that is what the article says if you take it on its own merits. From my viewpoint as a scientist, Wilson's critiques are well-founded. At no point does he say that science should be rejected out of hand. His concluding recommendation is that science and scientists should be more self-critical, given the all-too-apparent flaws and biases in how science is actually practiced.

Vox recently published a similar (and even longer) article peppered with numerous quotes from practicing scientists. You might prefer that one: http://www.vox.com/2016/7/14/12016710/science-challeges-research-funding-peer-review-process
Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
I should say something wise and profound to close out 2016, but if all you need is a laugh, no strings attached, check out this amazingly uncoordinated dog. Miles (age 15 months) thought this was the funniest thing ever.
1
Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
You know that you've reached boring middle age when the reason that you're shouting "YES! YES! OH YESSS!!!" in the middle of the night is that, after nursing the baby back to sleep, you were browsing online and found an exact match for the missing part of your kitchen blender...
2
Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
Unfortunately, President-Elect Trump probably doesn't read The Economist. If he did, he could learn a thing or two.
With his call to put “America First”, Donald Trump is the latest recruit to a dangerous nationalism
2
John Corbett's profile photo
 
While he may or may not read the Economist, the cautions in the article apply to someone seeking to make the world a better place, not enrich their own fortunes. Just imagine the profits: from selling arms to selling reconstruction. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
These charming little cartoons are tagged by the artist as #fieldworkfail. I'll add my own tag of #scienceisnotawesome, but as far as failures go, these are pretty awesome! (I've got plenty of my own army ant stories from Malawi that I could share with you...) 
I'm a french illustrator and I illustrate the humorous stories of failure shared by fieldwork scientists. It can be a fun way to humanize science! To make these illustrations I use stories shared on twitter by scientists with the #fieldworkfail hashtag. These scientists can live in South Africa, Colombia or Ireland, they can be biologists, archeologists or volcanologists.
1
Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
I know I'm preaching to the choir here - I don't think there are a lot of fervent Trump supporters among my friends and acquaintances. But I thought this article (by a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has served as advisor to several Republican Presidential candidates) was very well-written and hard-hitting. To wit: "It is genuinely terrifying that someone who advances such offensive and ridiculous proposals could win the nomination of a party once led by Teddy Roosevelt, who wrote more books than Mr. Trump has probably read." The title phrase of "Stupid Party" is admittedly harsh, but if anyone deserves to be branded the leader of said party, it would be Mr. Trump.
Anti-intellectualism started as a Republican posture. It has ended with a dangerous ignoramus leading the party.
3
Jeanne Smith's profile photo
 
I agree with you completely, Amber! In all my 72 years of life on this Earth, I have never heard a candidate for president in the United States scream, yell, hollar, condemn, and offend so many people who had the best interests of their country at hand. Mr. Trump became known for his diatribes, i.e., putting everyone and everything that was on the opposite side of the fence into his Inferno. I am extremely angry at him, as is my husband, Herb. 
Add a comment...

Amber Kerr

Shared publicly  - 
 
I suppose the NYT published this piece for International Women's Day, the purpose of which is to recognize women's accomplishments and celebrate their potential. But it seems to me, as a female scientist, that this article does the opposite. It's written by Hope Jahrens, a biogeochemistry professor at the University of Hawaii, who was contacted for advice by one of her former grad students after the student received an unwanted love note from her male supervisor.

Prof. Jahrens bemoans the insidious prevalence of such male/female interactions in science - most of which are never aired, she says, but when they occasionally come to light, "A great chorus of formal condemnation shall be lifted up, and my male colleagues will sputter with gall, appalled by the actions of bad apples so rare they have been encountered by every single woman I know."

Not to put too fine a point on it, Professor Jahrens, but this is rubbish. I'm in a very similar field to your own (ecosystem ecology); I've been in academia for the better part of two decades; all four of my academic advisors (bachelor's, Master's, PhD, postdoc) have been male; and I have NEVER - I mean NEVER - felt even slightly threatened or taken advantage of due to my status as a woman. Not by my advisors, nor by any other teacher, classmate, or student. I've had wonderfully supportive colleagues, male and female.

And if a male colleague did send me a message of unreciprocated affection, I would simply reply no thank you, not cower in the shadows indefinitely while his actions continued (as Prof. Jahrens seems to imply is inevitable). As the commentor "Female Scientist" says on the NYT piece: "This is not sexual harassment. In fact, this piece is damaging because it dilutes the real sexual harassment cases."

Yes, there are still major gender problems in academic science. Yes, sexual harassment should be treated with the utmost seriousness. Yes, tricky issues can arise when a senior employee courts a junior one. But I am indignant that Prof. Jahrens is presuming to speak for all female scientists. She does not speak for me. 
For women in science, part of the job can mean dealing with unwanted sexual attention.
2
Add a comment...
Story
Introduction
I was born in Australia to American parents, and spent my childhood in Western Australia and Queensland.  I came to California to attend Stanford University, where I received my BS and MS degrees in Earth Systems (Biosphere track) at Stanford University.  I am currently a Ph.D. student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.  For my dissertation research, I am conducting a climate manipulation experiment on a Gliricidia-maize agroforestry system in southern Malawi.
Bragging rights
Winner of Billy Baxter's Cafe Pancake Eating Contest (I have the certificate to prove it)
Education
  • University of California, Berkeley
    present
  • Central Queensland University, Mackay
  • University of Queensland
  • Stanford University
Basic Information
Gender
Female
Other names
Catherine
Work
Occupation
Ph.D. student in Energy and Resources
Employment
  • University of California, Berkeley
    Ph.D. student in Energy and Resources, present
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • US Department of Agriculture
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory
  • Rocky Mountain Institute
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Mountain View, California
Previously
Mackay, Queensland, Australia - Berkeley, CA - Mackay, Queensland, Australia - Cairns, Queensland, Australia - Albany, Western Australia - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia - Stanford, CA - Zomba, Malawi - Kisumu, Kenya - Washington, DC - Aspen, CO
PROS: Open on holidays, and long opening hours - we picked up a car from them on short notice on New Year's Day. At least some of the staff are nice; the staff member who helped us at the front desk (a middle-aged Jamaican lady) was friendly and professional. Car was clean, in good repair, and everything worked just fine. CONS: Super expensive. Renting the smallest available car for less than 24 hours (with a child seat but no other extras, not even basic insurance) cost us $130. And their late policy is brutal. We returned our car about 40 minutes late (after calling them repeatedly to let them know we might slightly miss the deadline, but they didn't answer any of our calls) and were charged $78 for it. Augh!!! I would not go here again unless there were absolutely no other options.
• • •
Public - 2 weeks ago
reviewed 2 weeks ago
This was the only Davis bike store I could find that was open before 10 AM, and I needed to repair a flat rear tire in a hurry (I'd just come up from the Bay Area on the train for a meeting at UC Davis). Dave and Aidan helped me right away, changed my tire quickly, gave me advice about rear taillights in the meantime, and charged a very reasonable price for the service. And - as an extra bonus - I got to play with their very friendly, fluffy resident cat Milo. All in all a great experience. I was really grateful for their speedy help and friendly professionalism.
• • •
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
3 reviews
Map
Map
Map
This is my local hardware store - I live a few blocks away and I go here all the time. I have always had a good experience and have left with a smile on my face. The staff are really friendly (especially Michelle) and will go out of your way to help you. Not only will they help you find exactly what you need, they will also give you pro bono advice to help you solve your home or garden problem. For example, when I asked an employee for plastic netting to keep squirrels out of a garden bed, he pointed out that squirrels would chew right through it and recommended chicken wire instead (which worked perfectly). They are also lenient with returns for any reason. And, although this store is on the smaller side, they are surprisingly well stocked considering their size. They tend to know exactly what they have in stock, and if they don't have it, they can tell you where to get it. Two thumbs up for this neighborhood treasure!
• • •
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago