Science and Perspective.


October 2017

Connections: Re: Actual Weekly Riff

​So a friend has a weekly email I subscribe to and he quote another of his friends as saying "Learning is all about connections".
Did you say "duh."?

It seems to make sense to me. this is the only way I seem to learn. My memory sucks, but I do pretty well in school because my brain connects things well I believe.

Right now, I am working heavily with maps in ArcGIS and every time I look at the interface, I imagine a drawing on multiple layers of wax paper. On the base layer you paint the background, then you add layers drawing things that are closer and closer to the fore. For me, this connection is essential to how I create my maps.

as I teach my students in Biology 115 labs I often incorporate shared experiences of going to the doctor, taking antibiotics etc. so the students can make those connections for themselves as well.

When I speak to others about the difficulties of international students, I try to connect social justice first to their experiences along the lines of minority groups they are a part of, then I point out the similarities between their historical oppression and the contemporary treatment of international students and scholars. this seems to work exceptionally well.

A fact no matter how well researched is difficult for most people to accept without some connection to their previously held beliefs.

But also,

I learn daily from you, my friends, my followers, your emails and comments, our conversations and arguments. So I guess everything I do is about the connections. what new connection have you made recently? what connection continues to feed your learning and affect your experience?


(Clean) Air supposed to be free

During our geography class recently we got to web chat live with @amrit_sharma, the guy behind #AskSmokey on twitter.
You can tweet “#AskSmokey what’s it like in #Delhi” or hundreds of other cities around the world. And you will get this nice little air quality report. And guess what? It is emoji based. 🙂
So now instead of just walking outside and getting a lungful, you can check on your computer first to know if walking to work is really as healthy as you thought. allows you to browse the map and see what the air quality is like it even marks some streets during high pollution times like rush hour.

The two major downsides for me are, 1: disaster voyeurism. Really, air pollution is a horrible problem. *cough,cough* though the website and interactive twitter bot are great for raising awareness, and the link on to earn more via email is really well written, but there is little you can do via the website or twitter feed to actually impact the problem.
And 2: coverage. Everytime I see something cool like this I search for the Bahamas. Don’t waste your time yet. We are not on the map. This is important because the dump on New Providence is still smoldering. But also, this means that some countries may be overly represented with negative or positive air quality reports.

The root of the data is the open air quality data from They get data from 62 countries according to their website and less than 2000 locations. The data is open access and represents different pollutants and indices. Amrit makes it accessible by peeling the indices back to emoji style “heart eyes and happy breathing” or “skull and crossbones die from the black lung” visuals.

If you know of a place collecting air quality data, recommend them on Maybe sponsor one for your school. Until then, I hope you can breathe easy where ever you are.


Ancilleno Davis, PhD. Candidate
Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology- Miami University, Oxford Ohio

Hero and heroin

This happened on October 8th, 2017. The following account is true and accurate to the best of my memory, but may cause emotional distress to those with similar experiences related to drug overdose or first responders. I am writing for catharsis. 

Tonight I am still shaken up. It is 10:30 pm. He started breathing again sometime around noon I think.

I think I should feel like a hero, but this was nothing like the movies. 

I cried afterward in front of the cops and the paramedics that looked like undergrad volunteers. I zoned out while I was doing cpr and I seemed to only come back into focus to tell my body to switch from rescue breaths to chest compressions. Was I crying the whole time? 

I can’t really remember.

I also cannot forget. He has a friendly face and he is so helpful and kind. Loves his mom. His friendly face was starting to turn blue. As I pushed down on his chest I remembered our conversations and working with him and his mom. 

I remember the sounds. 

The girl screaming “He’s doing CPR”. 

The dispatcher telling her to stay, to take the cell phone off speakerphone because she (the dispatcher) could not hear. 

My voice was counting. If I counted out loud, I could not hear them and maybe that would be good enough for the dispatcher. 

The girls says ” he’s doing CPR”. I don’t know her name. She did not even know the name of the street. She does not know my name. “He is doing CPR”. Who is “he”? 

Oh. It’s me. I am doing cpr. 21, 22,23… I am trying to hold it together. 

This is crazy. It’s Sunday. We are cleaning and cooking. We have guests coming over. I was going to have some Cruzan coconut rum and Ginger Ale later on. But right now, I just want him to breathe. “Please God, help me help him.” No pulse. Not breathing. Keep going. “Please God, help me help him.” I realize, I have never prayed so hard. Maybe I have never prayed so earnestly.

The dispatcher is saying “they are on the scene. Can you let them in?”

The girl says she can’t stay. She has to go. She “can’t be here”.



I am alone with him. The dispatcher is saying something. “Is he breathing?”

I can hear his stomach sloshing with the compressions. That last breath was too much I heard some air enter his stomach. I think that is why the sloshing is so much louder. He’s definitely less blue. 27, 28, 29, 30. 

Stop. Look. His face is flushed red. I can see his pulse in his neck. His chest and stomach are rising and falling slowly. It is so quiet. Was I screaming? He’s alive.

Dispatcher “They are on scene. Can you let them in?”

Me: “His heart is beating! He’s Breathing!” I am shouting now.

I let the officers in and direct them to him, before going next door to tell Alma what happened.

I come back over a few times to give my statement to the officers, but I avoid going back toward the bathroom. A few minutes later he is sitting up on a gurney, being put in the ambulance. I feel scared, terrified. I definitely don’t feel like a hero.

I later find out it was a drug overdose. Heroine.

I just happened to be there. I am no hero. Heroin.

Jokey jokes 9/18/2017

Stephen King made a new horror movie about a clown… but it’s just another ITeration.

If you like jokes like these (some are better) check my blog.


What does a grape say when it gets stepped on?

Nothing. It just lets out a little wine.

Define your community and you define discrimination

I have come to realize that throughout the communities I operate in, there is a consistent thread of defining who is a part of our community. Inherently, this defines who is not a part of our community.
In particular, I look at diversity affairs organizations and professionals. Most, follow a restrictive explicit definition, which usually lists the legally protected minorities defined in the laws of the country or territory. Therefore, if you are not a defined minority, your lack of power or smaller numbers leaves you exposed outside the defined protections.

For example, look at your university statement on commitment to diversity. Do they mention students with family (children, spouses), do they mention students with different visa statuses?

Now, look at the students that make up your community. How many of them could be excluded from events, opportunities, activities because of one or the other of these characteristics?

Would a broader statement on commitment to diversity be better? Perhaps making a statement that says “for any group of students in the minority, based on an inherent characteristic of their identity, we will support your success to make you equal among us”. But, is this type of statement a possibility considering the current climate? What would be the real impact?

Some things to consider: Loss of federal funding/support for programs that give international students equality; discontent among nationalist students/faculty/staff; where the borders exist in terms of feelings of safety, support, security among students.

Yeah. I don’t have the answers. I am still looking.

Ancilleno Davis

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