A brief paean to Jane Shevtsov

Looking at this year’s upcoming ESA, I saw this symposium: Beyond Hypothesis Testing. It was organized by Jane Shevtsov, a mathematical biologist. I felt compelled to write her a note expressing my appreciation of the symposium’s topic… and of course I ended up going into my own hobbyhorses in the course of this.

The note is re-printed below. While skimming her Google+, I also found this great article on science journalism from 2010: (Don’t) Keep It Simple. It is quite freaking good.

Now, back to the academic mines…  ~mjc

Hi Jane,

I just saw the symposium that you organized and will be moderating at ESA. I am tremendously grateful to see this topic being brought up and discussed. I think the larger cross-over with the ideas your session presents and interdisciplinary science is under-explored and its potential largely unrealized. I often point to the work of late Nobelist Elinor Ostrom (eulogized by ESA here: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/full/10.1890/0012-9623-94.1.17). Her oeuvre is huge and diverse, but their summary of her core contributions is not bad, and it includes 8 more or less qualitative “rules” on sustainable common property resource management she derived from her work. Said “rules” came as much or more from exploratory work as they did from hypothesis testing, and it would’ve been near meaningless to have framed these as hypotheses *before* the exploratory work that began revealing them in the first place. Yet they are one of the more robust and evidence-based social science contributions of our time. I find ecologists, and NSF broadly, seem to fail to appreciate how strong her work was, and how much it necessitates qualitative research alongside quantitative–or even, in some cases, divorced from quantitative work.

A bit of a brain dump, sorry. 🙂

I look forward to your session–
M. Jahi Chappell

 

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