Monday, August 31, 2020

The Nature Of The Firm

The journal Ecological Economics has published an article entitled "“Environment-selected directors”: An interactive simulation experiment of environmental representation on corporate boards" written by my colleagues and me. Here is the abstract:
In many legal frameworks, corporate directors are selected by shareholders.  Proposed legislature in the US seeks to enable employee representation on corporate boards as well.  Nevertheless, current approaches to corporate board selection could result in the systematic discounting of the needs of other, unrepresented stakeholder groups beyond shareholders and employees.  To investigate this issue, we envisioned a new kind of corporate director—the environment-selected director—to complement shareholder-selected and employee-selected directors.  We conducted an online simulation experiment where human participants were assigned to act as corporate directors, with some being told they were selected by shareholders, some by employees, and some via a “vote by a committee of scientists who study the local and global environment in question”.  Results found that participants assigned as environment-selected directors exhibited balanced preferences across stakeholder groups, behavior significantly different from both shareholder-selected directors and employee-selected directors.  Further results from 3000 “virtual boards of directors” suggest that boards composed solely of environment-selected directors produce more balanced benefits across all three stakeholder groups studied (shareholders, employees, and the environment) than other configurations of boards.  These results suggest that it may be useful for future legislation to consider including this novel form of director, the environment-selected director, on corporate boards.

Huge credit is due Professor Bill M. Tomlinson (University of California Irvine), who spearheaded this research project.  The full article is available for free here. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Boston Wheeze Party

In an August 25, 2020, preprint article by Lemieux et al. posted on Medrxiv, entitled "Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in the Boston area highlights the role of recurrent importation and superspreading events", a collaborative group of scientists from the Broad Institute and other institutions analyzed 772 complete SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences to trace the early spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Boston, including possibly at a fateful conference attended by participants from around the worldAmong their findings, the authors
present here an analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomic epidemiology primarily in the Boston area, which was severely affected early in the US COVID-19 epidemic. Through dense sampling of the early phase of the epidemic we show the frequency of importation events—over 80 independent introductions—and the impact of early superspreading events in driving amplification and community transmission, likely accelerating the transition from containment to mitigation strategies.
This study provides direct evidence that superspreading events may profoundly alter the course of an epidemic and implies that prevention, detection, and mitigation of such events should be a priority for public health efforts.
Rapid sequencing of full genomes and powerful phylogenetic inference methods are proving themselves vital in our emerging understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

From Kendall To Kure

 Today I watched a wonderful documentary, entitled From Controversy to Cure: Inside the Cambridge Biotech Boom, about the birth and growth of the biotechnology hotspot that has emerged in Kendall Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Here is the film:

FROM CONTROVERSY TO CURE - Inside the Cambridge Biotech Boom from MVP on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Mantis Who Fell To Earth

This big beast fell from the sky right in front of me.  Given its size - about 10 cm - my guess is that it is an introduced Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis).

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Ô Kamala!

La candidate à la vice-présidence des États-Unis, Kamala Harris, a obtenu son diplôme de l'école secondaire Westmount à Montréal en 1981.  Elle est presque aussi canadienne que Ted Cruz. Le Canada est-il devenu une école de finition pour la présidence américaine?  Merveilleux!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Leafing Lizards

Since 2005, a population of lizards has kept me company as I read on my front porch.  They pop out of and dive back into cracks between bricks of my front pathway.  While outside their burrows, they forage frenetically through leaf litter.  Yesterday, I spotted the largest individual I had ever seen.  I managed to take some closeup photographs of this big dark brown and black lizard, one of which is reproduced below. 

Broad-Headed Skink (Plestiodon laticeps)

I formerly identified these lizards as Common Five-Lined Skinks (Plestiodon fasciatus), in part because the smaller ones have five cream-colored stripes on their backs and sides, and sometimes have bright blue tails.  However, close scrutiny of my new photographs has changed my mind.  Now I think my lizards are Broad-Headed Skinks (Plestiodon laticeps), which can sport stripes and tails similar to those of their close relative, the Common Five-Lined Skink, but tend to be considerably larger, and have five scales on their upper lips between their noses and eyes.  The main challenge in identifying these lizards has been their constant activity, vigilance, and impressive speed.  No lounge lizards they.