Category Archives: Update

This Is What A Scientist Looks Like

This is what a scientist looks like is really cool concept, and my post is up!
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In case you haven’t heard, I’m into crossfit. I started at Crossfit Storrs last August, and I go 4 or 5 days a week. This photo is from a small competition in December during the strength portion: cleans, push press, and overhead squats with 95 pounds (it was my first time trying 95, my previous best before that was 65). I have a long ways to go with my strength training, but I love it. My favorite portion had running, jumps, knees to elbows, weighted pull ups, wall balls, and kettlebell snatches.

Crossfit keeps me sane and gives me an outlet for my frustration after a day of classes, seminars, and teaching intro biology labs. I am going to participate in the Crossfit Games Open, and am training to prepare for the Beast of the East in October.

And hey, it keeps me in shape for field work.

Busy weekend

Here are some of the things I accomplished this weekend:

Anomalocaris, Opabinia, Euproops, two odonate nymphs, and a baby blanket with a copepod and daphnia on it. In progress are two tardigrades, and I have a long list of custom order requests still to confront. And I managed to do some schoolwork and illustration practice, ran a 5K for crossfit, shopping (I needed some knee high socks for weight lifting), cooking, cleaning, feeding and playing with the animals – it’s amazing what I can accomplish when my boyfriend goes away for the weekend.

I really love the stories behind the orders I receive (the baby blanket was a hoot!). It is gratifying to know I am able to bring such joy to others, and to know that there are lots of other biology geeks out there. Especially since I can balance my business with the rest of my life. I will have to slow down the sewing once my teaching responsibilities and research become more demanding, but for now – any spare moment is spent with my drawing pens or my sewing machine.

Once I catch up on custom orders, I really want to make more caterpillars. I’ll start taking suggestions on species!

A new year

I guess this is what happens when you have term papers, final exams, lots of family and friends to see for the holidays, and then realize you need a few days to breathe. Your blog gets neglected and next thing you know, it’s a new year!

I survived the semester. Whew. And you know what, I’d rather not think on it too much, but move forward and figure out how to tackle the next one. I still have a couple more weeks of “break”, but as a grad student, there isn’t really such a thing. I already feel guilty for not doing any schoolwork for the past two weeks. Before the semester starts I’ve got a species description to work on and hopefully finish, and a DNA-barcoding plate to put together to send out before my advisor leaves on a trip.

There hasn’t been any caterpillar news, as they’re all overwintering as pupae. I’m pretty excited for their emergences in the spring though.

I am in the process of playing with a bunch of ideas and directions my research could go in… I’ll post them here to get your thoughts soon.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

(Polygrammate hebraeicum. Minimally photoshopped, some really do turn pinkish-red in the ultimate instar!)

Holiday Shopping

For anyone who doesn’t know what to get for that biologist in their life for the holidays – be sure to check out my shop!

I currently have plushies, original artwork, and Christmas stockings. My plushies vary in size, and some could make great stocking stuffers. They are not meant for very small children and are not tested as children’s toys, but they should withstand normal handling.

At this point I will only take small requests as custom orders (that are meant to be holiday gifts), anything complicated will have to wait until after the holidays.

Click here to see my Christmas stockings.

Click here to see my marker drawings.

Click here to see the rest of my shop.

Not only might you find the perfect planarian or tardigrade for your loved one, but you will be supporting a grad student and her research. If nothing else I hope you enjoy browsing through my work!

Biz cards

I saw overnightprints was having a business card sale, so hey, why not?

Can’t wait to get these in these in the mail!

It took me a while to track down the font from the theme of this blog, but I got it. And of course I had to labor over exactly which photo to use – but I settled on one of my favorite species, Acronicta afflicta. I am a firm believer in keeping cards eye catching and simple. Of course, I will also need to find a way to distribute 500 of these cards, haha. Always handy to have in my purse at least!

The Southwestern Research Station

So now, to formally introduce the lep course.

I spent a bit over a week at the Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) in Portal, Arizona this August. The station is run by the American Museum of Natural History. I was participating in the Lepidoptera Course, studying moths and butterflies and caterpillars with some of the best researchers in the field. It was an amazing opportunity, and I learned so much!

The SWRS also offers courses in Herpetology, Ants, Bees, Animal BehaviorBat Conservation, and Species Modeling.

This is one of the signs you’re greeted with when you arrive (after driving down the long bumpy desert road into the canyon).

Of course, as scientists, it was tough for us to actually relax during the course. Every spare moment was spent collecting or exploring or reading or pinning… you get the idea. The first couple days we actually didn’t have that much to do and I started getting anxious! Thankfully, things picked up and I became totally absorbed in learning about leps. I work best when I have a million things to do and not enough time to do it all.

This is a view of some of the buildings at the station – with a typical early afternoon sky in the background. You could almost guarantee rain by 2pm. That’s the wonder of the monsoon season in the southwest – plenty of rain and rumbling storm clouds. I love this location – nestled in the Chiricahua mountains with streams and lush vegetation, surrounded by desert scrub. I was here last year with my advisor just to explore and catch caterpillars, and I’m already looking forward to possibly going back next summer. Some of the species in my study genus live here, so that’s a good excuse!

Of course at this point my mind and photos and notes are a little jumbled, with a big splash of excitement to talk about the adventures we went on. I’ll write a bunch of posts about the trip, not necessarily in order or corresponding to specific days. So let’s see what happens!

Back from Arizona

Whew… what a trip! I learned a lot at the Lep Course and had a ton of fun.

I’ll write of our adventures and put up photos as soon as I can get myself organized.

In other news, the last of my first brood of Acronicta have pupated… but I got a few hundred eggs/hatchlings in the mail this week (and more are on the way!)… so it looks like the Arizona trip was my only “break” from caterpillar rearing. These guys will keep me busy well into the semester. Which I’m trying to not think about too much – I’m taking Systematics, Evolutionary Developmental Biology, a systematics seminar, and I am teaching 4 lab sections of intro bio for non-majors. And of course, starting more serious analysis of specimens for my research.

I’m not satisfied unless I have a million things to do and not enough time to do them all!

Birthday Caterpillar Fun

I am 23 today!

Today is caterpillar day at the Lep course, with lectures in the morning and collecting scheduled for most of the afternoon. Then later tonight we’re switching gears and learning adult moth genitalic dissections.

Should be a fun day 🙂


I forgot to mention… I’ll be in Arizona for the next week! I actually just arrived a few hours ago.

I’m here at the Southwestern Research Station (SWRS), run by the American Museum of Natural History, taking a Lepidoptera field/training course. Since the internet connection here is so slow and spotty, I will provide links and photos when I return. I will try to update with little stories if I can while I’m here, and will hopefully have time to flesh them out later.

This is where I came with my advisor last summer, to help him with his research and just explore. Now I’m prepared to tackle the wilderness and learn a lot about moths.

I already caught one tiny vinegaroon while wandering around flipping logs near the creek. I can’t help myself.

More technical difficulties

This time it’s a kidney stone.

So my weekend plans were thwarted and I got to spend some quality time with my boyfriend in the hospital.

I’m feeling better now, just waiting for the stone to pass.

I’ll try to start writing once I catch up with everything else in my life!

Ryerson Lab

Functional Morphology, Sensory Biology, Behavior, Biomechanics

I spell it nature

Trying to make sense of the world through science and language.