When the rain started pouring down, I didn’t make any move to find cover. We had just returned from a sweltering, dusty, who-knows-how-many-miles-long hike through the Sierra Nevada mountains, so the brisk thunderstorm was a welcome surprise.
Our intern cohort (plus several advisors) had scaled slopes through a charred forest in search of the vast meadows we knew to be at just a slightly higher elevation. The forest had undergone a controlled burn in an attempt to protect and restore biodiversity—as fire clears long-dead organic matter, it creates room for new life to recycle those materials into their own success. As the burn flickers on, the older, larger trees continue thriving and supporting other life, from their roots to their canopies.
Some reflections on lessons learned so far from my ongoing internship and other summer involvements.
When I got the acceptance email, it took me until the first day of the internship to believe that it was true. Fast forward one week, and my disbelief-turned-acceptance had morphed into a pit in my stomach that left me feeling flustered, anxious, and frustrated at myself.
After landing a spot in a program I’d had my eye on since high school, after already hearing my mentors express their excitement to have me around for the summer, after active participation in discussions about science, I still felt like an outsider. It wasn’t a new feeling; throughout my undergraduate experiences, I’ve been fighting the voices in my head that tell me I don’t belong in many of the spaces I spend my time.
phormium [New Zealand flax] // taken with a macro lens attachment in my backyard!
“Get a keyboard, label all the notes, and practice identifying them by ear. Okay?”
My music teacher smiled and waved goodbye to me and my two classmates. My five-year-old hands hugged my half-size violin case closer to my chest. Every week after, she played short, sweet notes on her violin and asked us to name them with our eyes closed, over and over in different intervals until we could sing them back to show our understanding. She explained that, in order to play Carnatic–South Indian classical–music on our violins, we first had to train our ears and voices. Continue reading →
George, two madreporites and all, surrounded by sea stars galore. (photo at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA)
Ice-cold water shocked my hand as it breached the shallow tank’s surface. A rainbow of colors glittered up through gentle currents. Diverse sea animals carpeted the basin, unaware of the crowd eager to feel their spiny skin or soft tentacles.
There at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s touch tanks, I fell in love with a cerulean-colored sea star. The bright blue wasn’t what caught my eye, though. Continue reading →
a network of jasmine climbs up the fence across the system of trees, forging new paths
“Sorry, what was that? I didn’t quite catch it, I think my wifi is dying or something…”
I lean in closer to my computer screen as if it will help hear better. We’re in the midst of discussion in my speculative design class. Seven of us are seated in our respective homes, crowded around our laptops with our notebooks out on the side, sketching out thoughts as we bounce critiques back and forth about our ongoing projects. We’ve been tasked to model our class in the past, present, and future.
Models have been ever-present and incredibly important to build an understanding around current events. Through examining data, scientists can visualize patterns and project possible futures, providing insight for actions and provoking further questions. Continue reading →
Six forty-five in the morning. Light has barely touched the sky, and I’m sitting in AP biology class surrounded by my half-asleep friends as we shuffle through our immense binders for fresh note paper. Our teacher mills around the front of the classroom prepping slides, video links, and in-class demos to fill our tenth-grade brains with exciting new knowledge (massive shoutout, she was/is the best).
During those high school biology days, I clung to the goal of having all the right answers at the drop of a question (yeah, yeah, I was another wannabe Hermione Granger, so what?). My favorite part of the class was when our teacher would ask us about connections– what other parts of the body may this impact? What other portions of the ecosystem are interwoven here? How may genes influence entire populations of animals? Before this class, I hadn’t considered any of these questions and more. Continue reading →
This month has me questioning whether I like sharing stories because I like sharing stories, or I like sharing stories because I like to like sharing stories. (There are a lot of “likes” in that sentence, but the extra one holds importance– much like how when my cognitive science professor talks about intersubjectivity, he describes it as “I know that you know that I know you know,” with that last bit being imperative to defining the mutually-understood shared understanding.) Cogsci lectures aside, the time commitments I’ve sustained this quarter have definitely put me under some pressure in considering whether I make choices based on obligation or passion. Continue reading →