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biology

It’s crazy for me to think it has almost been a year since I graduated with my MSc!  I took these instagram shots on my phone while I was printing my figures for my thesis in the Advanced Imaging Lab at UVic.  Some neat natural curiosities in the director’s collection… I hope my collection looks like this some day…

I loooooove museums of Natural History and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC did not disappoint!  My cousin Sarah (pictured bottom right) was one of a few young artists being honoured for a poem she wrote for the Robert Bateman “Get To Know” program and she had an extra ticket to the soiree held at the museum!  Sarah wrote a beautiful poem titled “Dawn’s Dreamer”, and it was great to see her involved in such a neat program!  After the ceremony and speeches, we were allowed to tour around the collections and see just a few of the amazing specimens stored in the museum (used for both research and public information).  I would HIGHly recommend visiting the museum, I had a lot of fun looking at all of the critters!  It’s worth visiting for the massive blue whale skeleton alone!  My labmates and I were lucky enough to see the whale in Victoria while it was being restored, before it was moved to the Beaty Museum – so cool to see it fully assembled!

A few Sundays ago, Ryan and I went to the Vancouver Mycological Society Mushroom Show at VanDusen Gardens, and we had a blast!  There were SO many amazing local mushrooms on display, I couldn’t believe the diversity!  Mycology is always a subject I wish I knew more about, and a field guide I’ve been coveting for a long time (ahem Christmas Wish List item: Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora)!  My FAVOURITE fungi are the coral or clavarioid fungi, and I was excited to see some on display like Ryan and I found growing at Thetis Lake a few years ago

Outside the hall, there were members of the Mycological Society serving free pan-fried mushrooms and onions, and a local Mushroom Farm (Ming, I believe, please correct me if i’m wrong) deep-frying Enoki mushrooms – they were DElicious! Ryan and I bought a clump of Enoki mushrooms they were selling and we tried it at home – a fun, unique snack!

Our visit happily coincided with the Grand Opening of the new visitor’s centre at VanDusen, a beautiful new building designed by Perkins + Will.  It was a gorgeous fall day and the gardens were basking in afternoon light, a truly inspiring visit…

[photo 1: mushroom coral at the vancouver aqaurium, by me; photo 2&3: by ryan]

1. glasses by kio yamato style KP-083; 2. jacket from the gap (2002), 3. tank from club monaco, 4. ashley watson recycled leather warbler purse (gift from erin p.), 5. american apparel long accordion-pleat skirt in almondine, 6. steve madden seeri patent flat t-strap sandal (2009).

(this is my first outfit post – be kind, i’m a little nervous)  i first laid eyes on this amazing pleated skirt on an inspiring fashion blog called “giia’s tonic” in her post “pleated in the wind“, and i assumed i could not possibly afford something this beautiful! she pairs it with another, shorter pleated skirt (LOOVE it) and her leather jacket – i love LOVE the combination, i’ll have to try it too! as soon as i saw the skirt, it reminded me of a mushroom coral i’d photographed at the vancouver aquarium a few years ago! how the coral moved in the water, how the skirt rippled and flowed… siiigh biology and fashion!

i was happy to find out the skirt was from american apparel!!  i’m a bit strapped for cash atm, but for a unique piece like this, i couldn’t pass it up! it is SO comfortable, soft, airy, fun to twirl, and can be dressed up or down. i want one in every colour! thanks to ryan for my outfit shots!

[editorial image source: fashiongonerogue]  this is my first time posting a magazine editorial, i couldn’t help but post this amazing june 2011 US vogue editorial called “america the beautiful” photographed by craig mcdean.

the editorial features models karlie kloss, arizona muse (quickly becoming one of my favourite models out there), isabeli fontana, raquel zimmerman and the great karen elson (who’s hair colour i’m coveting atm). i love how it shows how outdoor gear can be beautiful, while of course, still being functional! (though pairing thousands of dollars of designer wear might not be a great idea if you’re ACTUALLY out picking up crab traps or hiking the West Coast Trail ;))

my favourite pics are of karlie and arizona (how insanely gorgeous are her cheekbones and eyebrows?!?!), wearing gear that i’m sure a good number of my friends and i have donned at one point or another in our stints as marine biologists! although i’m not sure that any of us have ever paired our helly hansens with prada or dries van noten! ;) hey, there’s a first time for everything! (erin and i looked pretty spiff sometimes…) foooor instance……

i might call an editorial with the images that follow, “whoa canada, the beautiful reality”:

model erin pemberton, styled by erin, photographed by alison on location in the deer group islands (props of rusty chair and mustang pfd – fortuitous and erin).

models erin and alison in waders and miscellaneous MEC gear

photo on left: karyn and danielle on location on the coastguard research vessel the jp tully, wearing helly hansens paired w/ chunky knit sweaters and this seasons most fashionable toques! photo on right: erin and me in bamfield with our pfd/boot/MEC waterproof bags/helly hansen raingear ensembles! we could all make a living as models hey? in case biology doesn’t work out? heh…

photo by doug brown featuring me and michelle nelson on location in a stream in bella bella, bc
note the functional accessory – the nylon belt with attached bear spray! eh? eh? pretty spiffy! 

second photo by michelle nelson featuring me and doug brown (decorated with silver gee traps), third by doug brown featuring… me. ick omg.

i’ve probably shot myself in the foot by posting those last 2 of me, but they are just too funny and show the reality of the field work! plus i think #2 shows the ability to be stylish and colourful, while layering and staying INCREDIBLY functional. i’m bug-proof, waterproof… and definitely boy-proof in that outfit (i was smizing under that bug netting, but the netting was so effective, it blocked out my smize and the blackflies) ;) and the third photo, it has movement and colour and… hair… styling… ok i just look awful, but if “deet or Off! – hodgeman’s waders – columbia outerwear” ever wanted to be all featured in an editorial – DONE!

i apologize for my lack of posting as of late; i just successfully defended my MSc. thesis on Friday! (i’ll resist using any puns that come to my mind when thinking of how long i’ve been working on it and the specific animals i work w/ ;) – i think you can all guess what many of them might be.) it hasn’t really had time to sink in yet, and i still have some minor revisions to complete before i can completely relax, but the worst is over!

above are a few shots of me trying to be a “biologist” over the years. me with a rock crab in bamfield, bc in the summer of 2005 during my undergraduate, netted-up against the mosquitoes, no-see-ums and black flies as a research assistant at SFU in bella bella, bc. preying on the poor ochre sea stars on the sunshine coast the summer of 1991 and finally, inspecting a shore crab at witty’s lagoon, bc during my masters.

my favourite items that have helped me through it:

1. klorane gentle dry shampoo and/or bumble & bumble hair powder (for those days where showering just didn’t factor in but i still have to go into work). these sprays absorb excess oil and make me feel like less of a grub.

2. my bamfield hoodie. my security blanket. worn in to just the way i like it. along with my sweatpants, my hoodie collection has had quite the work-out over the past 2 months.

3. opi nailpolish in mod-ern girl. since my work in the seatables has finally ended, i thought i would “celebrate” by painting my nails with the only nailpolish i’ve bought in the last 4 years, a fluorescent coral polish by opi. it maybe made typing just a little bit more fun? debatable.

4. lacoste essential. my husband’s cologne atm. sitting at my desk i need to be constantly inundated with a familiar and comforting smell. writing up one’s thesis isn’t always the most proud of moments (as you have to rehash and explain every little detail that happened to go wrong during the last 3 or so years of your life at work, and why you couldn’t figure out how to fix it), so i’ve found that spritzing this on me every day before i have to write helps me get by.

5. adele‘s new album “21″. released in the last week of my thesis writing, my favourite songs “someone like you” and “set fire to the rain” kept me going.

6. the dreaded uggs (or luggs as ryan calls them). my classic g0-to feels-like-your-foot-has-been-swallowed-by-a-marshmallow boots. though arguably no longer fashionable (ok really not argument there, as every 13 year-old i see seems to own a pair), i can’t argue with how comfortable these are for when i have to go out in public during the writing process.

7. “endless forms most beautiful” by sean b. carroll. a book i read back when i was an undergraduate when i was first getting into the whole “evodevo” thing.  still reminds me that science can be cool and… well… beautiful!

8. fresh flowers (statice or Limonium sinuatum). it was nice to have fresh flowers in my apartment to remind me that spring wasn’t far off. statice flowers are great since if you neglect to water them, they simply dry out and remain as colourful as the day you bought them and can be used in boutonnieres or craft projects after you’re done your thesis! ;)

9. vogue magazine. my daily source for inspiration and escape from reality. i’ve been reading vogue since high school and everytime i sit down with it, it makes me feel refreshed and happy!

10. james blake‘s self-titled new cd. peaceful, thoughtful and unique, my favourite tracks on repeat: remake of feist’s “limit to your love” and “the wilhelm scream”.

[photo by me. scanning electron micrograph of shell of juvenile blue topsnail calliostoma ligatum.]

i have to apologize for my lack of posting as of late. my thesis is due in a few weeks and i’ve been madly writing, editing figures, pulling out my hair, etc. in order to get it all done! pictured above is a cleaned shell of one of the little goobers (one of the more frustrating goobers) i raised from adult goobers i collected from clover point, here in victoria.

i collected about 30 adult blue topsnails and warmed them up individually in custard cups to spawn eggs/sperm. out of 30 i had 3 males and 4 females successfully spawn! i took sperm from the males, made a sperm slurry and added it to the eggs of the females, then reared the embryos through until they were about two months old in incubators here in our lab at UVic.

the shell pictured above was cleaned with a household bleach dilution (to remove the snail’s tissue), washed with acetone, then air-dried and stuck down on a small stub using a cactus spine held with fine forceps (headache). this shell was approximately 150 µm  in length which is 0.15 mm. ugh.

very tedious process, but a very beautiful shell. the polygonal sculpturing on the shell is laid down when the snail is an embryo. once this embryo hatches and swims up to join the plankton, it stops secreting its shell until after metamorphosis, when it resorbs its swimming organ, settles down out of the water column, and it begins crawling with its foot!  You can see the resumption of shell secretion in the shell pictured above, marked by the large ridge, followed by the radial ridges formed on the shell (towards the right of the shell).

[photo credits: all me (image 1: necklace - erica weiner, compact - vintage)]

i apologize for my lack of posting over the past week! i’ve been trying to focus on writing and heather organized a “CAGIS” event on saturday of last weekend, so we helped her teach some young girls from the ages of 7-12 about local marine invertebrates! it was lots of fun!

on to the post! some of you might know that i’ve got a strange interest in bees. i really don’t know enough about them to warrant this obsession, but i’m trying my best to learn! i’ve been reading a book called “plan Bee” by susan brackney, loaned to me by my friend amy (sorry i’ve had it for ages, even though its only a 200 page read).

some neat bee facts that i didn’t know before i read this book:
1. “bees are responsible for pollinating 80% of all the plants on the planet.”(i knew the percentage was up there, but i never really realized about how proportionally significant their role actually is…)
2. (i’d had a feeling, but didn’t know for sure) – honey, if cured properly (low moisture content and low pH), will never go “bad”.
3. martha stewart keeps bees. (now why am i not really surprised by that fact? oh martha… how i love you…)
4.  during the world wars, beekeepers were often allowed to dodge being drafted in order to maintain their hives. with the extensive food rationing in place, honey was a popular way to add flavour to the otherwise bland food available, and the demand for beeswax for waterproofing and lubrication of mechanical parts and bullet casings was high.
5. bees can be shipped through the US mail.
6. swarming is actually a non-threatening, natural process undertaken regularly by colonies of bees in order to divide a colony when space becomes limited. the bees prepare to swarm for weeks, as it takes time for the colony to raise a new queen to leave behind at the old colony site.  the old queen will leave with thousands of swarming bees and wait at a new location until scout bees report back to her with their waggle dance about possible new colony sites!

another thing i like to do, is collect deceased bumblebees during the spring (i’ve read somewhere that this is death after emergence from hibernation, and read elsewhere that they are males that have died after reproducing?). whatever the reason for their passing, i collect these bees and keep them in specimen jars on my desk at work. morbid perhaps, but i find them beautiful and peaceful to look at.  another thing i like to collect is bee jewelry/pretty things. i love my bee necklace by erica weiner, and my vintage bee compact that my mom bought me as my bridal shower gift. i like my bees.

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