One of the toughest things to do as an academic is to keep informed about what is going on out there, in a professional sense. An earlier blog post addressed the issue of keeping up with the literature. But there are other things you need to know about: upcoming conferences and workshops, calls for papers, funding programs, new software, books published in the field, and of course, especially for younger scholars, Ph.D., postdoctoral, and job opportunities. So where do you find all of this stuff? A great place to start is to get on a few key mailing lists in your field. Yes, it’s old fashioned, but it’s a really effective way to have important announcements come to you. Perhaps in a few years, Twitter or other social media mechanisms will replace mailing lists. For now though, a lot of the people who have information you need are of my generation, and they’re sending their postings to mailing lists.
There’s a bit of vocabulary to learn to make effective use of mailing lists. Some mailing lists allow postings to flow directly to users as soon as they are received (or approved, in the case of moderated lists). Others function as digests, which means that contents are collected for a certain period of time (which can vary according to the list) and are then sent out in one larger email. Some lists offer the option of either getting postings immediately or as daily or weekly digests. Do look at the options when you subscribe to a mailing list.
I will be focusing particularly here on mailing lists for people in mathematical biology, since that is the community I most closely associate with. If you work in another field, ask your supervisor about mailing lists you should join. He or she should be a good resource person on this topic.
With that out of the way, here are some mailing lists I recommend for mathematical biologists:
- SMB Digest: SMB Digest is a mailing list of the Society for Mathematical Biology. It is easily the most useful mailing list for mathematical biologists. It’s also highly unusual in that it’s a society mailing list that is open to non-members. (Most societies treat their mailing lists as a perk of membership. I will have more to say on joining scientific societies in a later blog post.) As a result of the SMB Digest being open to anyone, almost everyone will post items of interest to the community here. To join this mailing list, go to https://www.smb.org/smb-digest-community-forum-how-to/ for instructions. If you’re in mathematical biology, you simply must subscribe to this mailing list.
- Non Linear Science Network Digest: Strictly speaking, this isn’t a mathematical biology mailing list, but many of us work on biological problems for which the appropriate methods come from nonlinear dynamics, so there is a lot of overlap between the audience for this list and the mathematical biology community. You can join this mailing list at http://www.maia.ub.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/nls-net.
- NIMBIOS Newsletter: This one is a bit different. The other mailing lists mentioned above are intended to distribute information of general interest. The NIMBIOS Newsletter on the other hand is a publication of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (hence the acronym) whose purpose is to publicize NIMBIOS activities and programs. This is however a very active institute with many interesting programs (visiting fellowships, postdoctoral fellowships, workshops, etc.), so I think it’s worthwhile being on this mailing list even if you have no direct plans and no immediate interest in visiting them. You can join this list here: http://www.nimbios.org/press/newsletter.
- University of Lethbridge theoretical biology mailing list: This mailing list will only be of interest to people at or near the UofL. We use it to distribute information about seminars, courses, or other items of strictly local interest. If you want to join this list, go to http://listserv.uleth.ca/mailman/listinfo/theor-biol-l. The volume on this list is very low, although I always hope that more list members will share what’s going on in their area through this list.
If you know of other mailing lists that are useful for mathematical biologists, let me know and I may add them to this post.