22 September 2008

2008-2009 Pac-10 Vertebrate Paleontology Rankings

It being football season, I got to wondering how the different Pac-10 schools would stack up if they competed for paleontological rather than athletic prowess (this was clearly a list that needed to be made, and also a testament to my seemingly limitless powers of procrastination).  I decided to see how things stood by tallying up the number of talks being presented by researchers from each university at next month's Society of Vertebrate Paleontology conference (this means, of course, that I was measuring the influence of vertebrate paleontologists only, but this isn't rocket science, after all).  Without further ado, here are the rankings (numbers of talks are shown in parentheses after each school):

1. California (21)
2. Washington (11)
3(t). Oregon (7)
3(t). USC (7)
5. UCLA (6)
6. Stanford (5)
7. Arizona (2)
8(t). Arizona State (0)
8(t). Oregon State (0)
8(t). Washington State (0)

It's no surprise to see Berkeley comfortably atop the list, given that it has long been one of the world's best universities for paleontology (appropriate for a school who's mascot is an extinct animal).  The Huskies' distant second finish is a testament to Washington's paleontological renaissance in recent years.  From my point of view, it's gratifying to see Oregon tie with USC (though in fairness, the Trojans probably deserve the tiebreaker due to their connection with LA's natural history museum, which is also sending some speakers); for those of you who might be reading this in Eugene and think that seven sounds like an awfully large number, two of those talks are accounted for by paleoprimatologist Stephen Frost in the anthropology department.  Rounding out the field, UCLA and Stanford make solid showings, as expected, and Arizona stays out of the cellar by sending a geochemist to talk about isotopes from fossil hominids.  Sadly, the Sun Devils, Beavers, and Cougars have some serious recruiting to do if they want to have any hopes of moving up the rankings in the foreseeable future.  For those of you who prefer charts to lists, try this on for size; if nothing else, it drives home just how good Berkeley is:

I've taken my share of stats classes in my life, and I'm well aware that this is probably not the most robust technique for ranking universities.  If you are taking this post seriously enough to complain about my methods, you are missing the point.