Showing posts from October, 2022


Kraken sleeping  in my office.  My dog, Kraken, knows exactly when I finish a task. He sees me lean back from my computer after hours of concentration, and he knows that he's about to get a walk outside. It never fails. I emerge from the dense cloud of focus, take a deep breath, and look over at him. The fuzzy puppy, who just a few minutes before was dead to the world in the middle of a nap, has lifted his head and slid his front paws off the couch. If I confirm his suspicions by standing up, he bolts to the door. He knows the routine well.  We had several moments of emergence this week. I spent five days working through task after task on my to-do list, in an effort to button up my lab before a trip. And it worked.  An example CATAIN image, showing a diverse fouling  community that has settled on it.  The greatest accomplishment was resubmitting a paper about my camera system, CATAIN. Some of you might remember that I worked with WHOI engineers to design a camera system that coul

Witch City

Salem in October is a crazy place. There are people walking around in pumpkin leggings and witch hats. Signs everywhere advertise haunted downtown tours and historical tributes to the witch trials. A lot of people come just for the atmosphere.  Today, I took the train up to Salem, MA to meet with a collaborator. We're planning something pretty cool - an educational program focused on conservation that fuses science and art. To get both of us in the right mindset, she wanted to meet at an art museum - the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.  The Peabody Essex Museum was originally founded as a way to display artworks, artifacts, and oddities that ship captains brought home to Massachusetts from abroad. The museum has a broad, international focus, and maritime history is palpable throughout. There is a grand ballroom with carved figures from ships' bows on the walls. An oil portrait of Nathaniel Bowditch, father of modern oceanic navigation and a son of Salem, is displayed prominently

That bright band

Once again, I found myself standing next to my grad student as we both stared at set of ambiguous results. The feeling was getting old.  “Is that a primer dimer, or a second locus?” I mused out loud.  “Well, there’s nothing in the negative control,” Kharis replied. At least that was good news - our samples were free of contamination. “The DNA ladder is super scrunched up - I can’t tell now long that fragment is,” I commented. If only Hanny were here. She would know what to say. If “eureka” moments exist in science, I have certainly never had one. The process of discovering how the world works is slow. Many days, it feels to me like trudging through a bog, trying desperately to free a boot from the mud and take a step forward before the other one sinks in. There is no sprinting in my world, no sudden flashes of brilliance. There is just soggy ground and sinking boots and an electrophoresis gel with frustrating, ambiguous patterns.  We decided to send the samples for sequencing and see