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Challenging Perceptions: Part 1

Here’s a screenshot my friend sent me before I arrived in Joburg. It sums up what I had heard a few times about the city:  There’s some truth to the narrative that Johannesburg is unsafe. The fences struck me right away. Nearly every house has a fence around it, most topped by barbed (and sometimes…

What’s in a Name? An Exploration of Identity in Serbia and Croatia

There I was: thousands of miles from home, with a total of zero English-speaking relatives, trying to connect with the place where my family originated from… only to find out that I wasn’t even in the right country!

Of course, to anyone familiar with the Balkans, and especially former-Yugoslavia, this story is a common one. Identifying as Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, or Montenegrin may actually have nothing to do with where you grew up. Or where your parents grew up. Or where your grandparents came from originally.

Dung Beetles: how tough are these savanna insects?

    “Why? What if….? How does this happen?” I asked a simple question in June 2014, when I stepped out of our lime-green LandCruiser (lovingly named “Kermit”) and into the Kenyan savanna. For the last decade, biologists and ranchers and natural historians have noticed the creeping invasion by the big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala), but…

How & Why Consuming Shark Fins & Meat Can Put both Humans and Sharks at Risk

I have previously blogged about the how the demand for shark fin soup poses a large threat to shark populations. However, newly published research has found high concentrations of toxins linked to human neurodegenerative diseases in the fins and muscles of 10 species of sharks. In the study, fins and muscle tissue samples were collected…

Surveying Canopy Wildlife: A Brief Look at Looking Up

There is more to come in the way of introductions, but here is a quick first look at my project, Looking Up: A Canopy Wildlife Expedition. Throughout the year, I’ll be conducting wildlife surveys in forest canopies of Malaysia and Ecuador. As a scientist, I’m excited to expand my work to new research sites. Camera trapping…

Tiny ants may pose a big threat for diversity in Laikipia

In the shadow of Mt. Kenya, everyone has a story about a small, shiny ant that steals their cooking oil and sugar. When the seasonal rains come, they retreat into their underground nests, but they strike with full force during the dry months. The “big-headed ants” (Pheidole megacephala, which literally means “big head”) don’t bite or…

Saving Sharks and Coral Reefs in Malaysian Borneo

Borneo. The name speaks of wildness, of dense rain forests, biodiversity, of elephants and orangutans. Eighteenth century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-theorist of speciation, natural selection and evolution, traveled extensively throughout Malaysia and Indonesia describing terrestrial flora and fauna. His work founded the field of biogeography, and Wallace’s Line describes the separation of species between the ecoregions…