Showing posts from May, 2016


"Cage me like an animal A crown of gems and gold Eat me like a cannibal Chase the neon throne Breathe in, breathe out Let the human in" - "Human" by Of Monsters and Men Well, here I am again, in a place that feels all too familiar. After a jam-packed week or two of working on my latest manuscript draft, I've sent it off to my co-authors. While they review it, I wait. And wait. And wait. Don't get me wrong, I admire my co-authors. I've been blessed to work with some really incredible scientists, and my papers are always improved by their comments. From study design and implementation to data analysis and publication, they always have important, valuable things to say about my work. It just so happens that right now, of the 6 manuscripts I have in progress, one is being type-set for publication, another is under review at a journal, a third is being evaluated by a book editor, and three others rest on my co-authors' desks. They'll get bac

Kelp cutting

Julie and I leaned against the white fence on Boat Basin Road, cameras in our pockets, facing across the street. The sun incubated our faces, our shoulders, our arms. Across from us, a crowd of hundreds slowly disappeared through the double-wide green doors into the CMLC. We had been planning to make our way inside, but the doorway was just too crowded. It was packed, saturated, full. A crowd of hundreds gathered in front of the CMLC on opening day. "What do you think is the maximum occupancy of the building?" Captain Mike asked, sticking his head between ours. "Not sure, but we have to be close to it by now," I guessed. Captain Mike pulled out his camera, adjusted the focus, and snapped a few shots of the building. A cool breeze relieved our shoulders of the sun's heat for a moment. Down the street, a silver SUV crept along, braking for crossing pedestrians every few seconds. For every person who made their way through the doors into the museum, anoth

Oh, it isn't even oak

Friends, I feel like I should begin this post by apologizing for the title, because it's a reference to the American cartoon comedy Family Guy . I don't even watch Family Guy , but my brother does, and every time he and his buddies take over our parents' cottage for a weekend gathering, I get an earful of stupid-humor quotes. One year, their favorite quote was "Oh, it isn't even oak," and for you to understand what that means, I'm going to have to set the scene. The main character, the family guy himself, has recently decided to become more intellectual. He bought himself a nice bookshelf and filled it with academic-looking volumes. Not to be outdone, the dog decides to play intellectual himself and reports to the dad how much he's been reading. It's an obvious lie. The dog can't name a single book he's read, and the dad has him on the ropes. As this interrogation ensues next to the bookshelf, the baby comes in and decides to be the Pea

Just a pet

Every lab has at least one pet project - a simple, easily-accessible local habitat where they can sample. In fact, I'm pretty sure the best-understood marine systems in the world are those immediately surrounding marine labs. Where there's smoke, there's fire. Where there are scientists, there will be data. My institute is no different. The GoPro captured this awesome shot of Craig and me recovering the camera sled in 2014. Today, I had the chance to visit one of OIMB's "pet" habitats, a rocky reef just off the southern Oregon coast. The reef covers a pretty large area of the seafloor, stretching between Cape Arago and Bandon. There's a central boulder field surrounded by smaller patches of cobble and gravel. The reef is inhabited by all sorts of fascinating invertebrates - soft corals, anemones, encrusting and upright sponges, bryozoans, and hydroids. Sea cucumbers, crabs, and fish also frequent the reef. There are even basket stars, Gorgonocephalu


Picking up an ecologist at the airport is always easy. We wear this unofficial uniform that functions better than any name-tag. We're casual, unassuming. Not like the business people who travel in suits and skirts and blouses - quite often, we're the only ones in jeans. I had the pleasure of picking up a prominent ecologist at the airport near Coos Bay this week and hosting him at OIMB. Dr. Nicholas Gotelli, of the University of Vermont, was the latest speaker in OIMB's spring seminar series. I was especially excited to meet Nick because I've read and cited his work extensively. In fact, he developed most of the statistical analyses I'm using in my thesis. He is a brilliant mathematical ecologist, adept at both field sampling and modeling techniques. He's spent his career following the scientific questions wherever they lead, and he's worked on everything from marine invertebrates to pitcher plants. The Young lab and Nick As it turns out, Nick and Cr

Fire: Part 2

"She is here to inhale pain And exhale fire" - "She is Not" by Sarah Harvey The sun beat down on my shoulders as I just stood there in the sand and let the waves break over my legs. I was salty and sandy up to my knees. Over to my left, a man and his dog were fishing from a semi-submerged rocky knoll. To my right, the sandstone surge channels were covered in giant volcano barnacles. I had always heard that volcano barnacles covered the low intertidal, but I had never been at this particular spot when the tide was low enough to see them. About 20 feet away, I could spot another grad student's experiment bolted to the rock on the jetty. If you had asked me what I felt in that moment, I would have said "content." There's just something about physical exertion, beautiful ocean views, and being surrounded by biodiversity that makes me feel like my life makes sense. Grad school is hard, but you know that already. I've seen projects get derail