Saturday, December 29, 2012


#art fart Bart

November and December have flown by. Autumn was productive, with six graduate applications and two major grant proposals submitted. Winter will be considerably calmer, I hope. January and February are the lull before another month of travel in March, and grad decisions in April. I'm itching to explore beyond the city walls-to see a world  across the sea. For now though, Los Angeles is home. Hurray for a few quiet months before leaping back into the frenzy of it all.

Listening to The XX today- Swept Away:
  Swept Away by The xx on Grooveshark

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cool Tool: Flickr WorldMap

Flickr is my go-to photo sharing site, but can also be overwhelming for sheer image volume. The extent of photo curation varies widely between users too, with some people uploading fully geotagged and sorted work, and others lumping all images together without a word of what, where, or when. In this sense, image hunting on flickr is not unlike digging for sweaters at the bargain barn. 

 One tool that has made my flickr questing much more productive is the Flickr WorldMap
Screen Shot 2012-12-11 at 10.21.09 PM

 Every flickr image that is tagged with GPS coordinates shows up on the map. You can search by keyword and location, filtering out the miscellaneous bits you're not in the mood to see.

 Tonight I am performing a search for "dragonet". Dragonets are small, beautiful fish that live in tropical seas. I am specifically interested in images of wild dragonets, but since these critters are popular in aquariums, I will likely get a ton of hobbyist photos too.

 Each purple dot on the map above corresponds to GPS coordinates where dragonet photo(s) were taken. Since these are not freshwater fish, the purple dots on mainland North America and Europe are probably photos from aquariums. The purple dots from Indonesia are more attractive to me, because Indonesia is full of coral reefs, and is a popular vacation destination for scuba divers.

Mandarin Fish Mating

Et voila! A photo of wild dragonets from user PacificKlaus, found easily with global search. Hope this helps, and happy hunting. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Isolation and Speciation

It is long-established that marine organisms evolve through geographic isolation. When a population is physically divided (by distance, depth, temperature, or salinity), factions cannot interbreed, and become genetically distinct over time. New species form from a single ancestral population. 

Many studies invoke geographic isolation as THE singular factor in marine speciation, but the story is likely much more complex. The ocean has no walls, and many species can drift thousands of miles as surface-dwelling larvae before developing into free-swimming adults. Perhaps marine physical barriers are more porous than once anticipated. Genes do move between geographically separate populations, with the rate of genetic exchange informing the speed and extent of reproductive isolation. 

 Understanding the patterns of genetic exchange between geographically distinct marine populations is a priority in evolutionary biology. With the rapid advancement of molecular techniques in the last 40 years, there has been a proliferation of work on speciation, but further research is needed to grasp the drivers of evolution at sea. 
(Larval Monkfish, Lophius vomerinus)
From Innovations Report
(Adult Monkfish, Lophius vomerinus). 
From WWF Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Recent and Semi-Recent Work

DSC_5913 (watercolor on illustration board 24" X 18") DSC_6418 (pastel on butcher paper 24" X 18") DSC_6412 (pen and colored pencil 8.5" X 11") DSC_6158 (graphite 8.5" X 11") DSC_6414 (graphite 8.5" X 11") DSC_6429 (charcoal 8.5" X 11") DSC_6432 (acrylic on canvas. collage. 14" X 11") DSC_6434 (acrylic on canvas 14" X 11") DSC_6435 (detail of previous) DSC_6437 (pen and colored pencil 8.5" X 11") DSC_6440 (graphite 18" X 24") DSC_6442 (acrylic 18" X 24")

Sunday, September 30, 2012



One of eight islands in the California channel island chain, Catalina is about an hour southwest of Los Angeles. Barefoot and suntanned, I spent summers here as a child. This is where I first fell in love with the sea, and where I keep falling for it.  

DSC_5967 DSC_5953
DSC_5981 DSC_5986 DSC_5991 DSC_5994 DSC_6032DSC_6033

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sprouting at Home

Encouraging germination. Tasty, tasty germination #beansprouts


Humans eat seeds- it's our thing. Beans and grains are dietary staples globally because they are nutrient-rich and contain complex sugars for metabolism. However, these foods can also be difficult to digest. Why?

Before a seed begins to develop into a mature plant, it contains enzyme inhibitors to maintain dormancy and stores phosphorus in the form of phytic acid. These compounds are bad news in the human gut. Enzyme inhibitors inactivate human digestive enzymes. They prevent  us from fully processing our food, and limit our ability for nutrient uptake. Phytic acid inhibits uptake of calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium. 

Now, given a few days in water beans and grains become much easier to digest. As they germinate, seeds turn off their enzyme inhibitors and make a whole new suite of nutritious proteins. Soaking also neutralizes phytic acid, making sprouts a healthy, tasty snack. Black-eyed pea sprouts are a great addition to garden salad, and chickpea sprouts are awesome with avocado and lemon...mmm.

To make sprouts at home: 

1. Soak beans or grains in a mason jar covered with cloth (secured with a rubber band). Seeds should be completely submerged. Set them on the counter overnight.

2. Pour the water off, and allow the seeds to drain completely. Leave the jar on the counter for a day.

3. Rinse and drain your seeds daily. After 3 to 4 days they're ready to eat! 

Friday, September 14, 2012


Creation space #myroom #corkboard #interior Watercolor #painting tonight. #nofilter My soul dances at the smell of autumn on the wind.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sea Change

 After August in transit, a little stability has been welcome. Returning home was an exhalation- a necessary opportunity to slow down, lay anchor, and focus.

   Back in Los Angeles, I've started several paintings, finished a new book (Novella Carpenter's Farm City), and am deep in the graduate application process. Between the NSF grant and application essays, I am writing, writing, writing. This should all be finished by early November. After that, I'll turn my attention to the next adventure, whatever it may be.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Good Questions

With roughly 24,000 species described, fish are the most diverse vertebrates on earth. Thirty to forty percent of these species are associated with tropical reefs, which cover less than 0.1% of the ocean’s surface. 

How did such incredible diversity arise in such a small geographic area? From an evolutionary perspective, it is fascinating to ask how species and populations are related, and what factors influence those relationships. How, how, how are there so many species on reefs? A plethora of new questions burst from that one, on and on. 


Saturday, September 1, 2012

In Transit

 I spent August in The Pacific Northwest, exploring Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. The trip was centered around an ichthyology meeting hosted at The University of British Columbia. It was a chance to meet faculty from potential graduate programs and to see a new part of the world. Here are some photos from along the way:

DSC_4820 DSC_4831 DSC_5024 DSC_5032 DSC_4909 DSC_4968 DSC_5028 DSC_5048 DSC_5054 DSC_5588 DSC_5392

Friday, August 31, 2012


Off into it #adventure #backpacking 
 My backpack is a good friend. It has been a constant companion this month, happily bouncing through Seattle, Vancouver, and San Francisco. 

 Today we are heading home. 

The backpack leans against my shoulder in Oakland airport terminal 31, and we let out a collective sigh. Both a little tired, but no worse for wear, we say goodbye to the road... at least for now.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Skeptical #selfportrait


Today I’m ruminating- wondering what the next few months will bring. It's an exciting time. The graduate application process is just beginning and I'm going to Canada in August!

I'll spend a month in Northern California, Washington, and British Columbia and will attend my first international bio meeting! Bony fish systematics for days. I'm stoked to see a new part of the world, to surf some couches, and to begin making connections in my field.