Category: personal

My partner secretly recorded me painting a landscape while we watched the livestream of Justin McElroy excitedly talking about Disney World, even though neither of us care about Disney World (we just wanted to hear the comfort of his voice during these trying times). This is relaxing for ME to watch, and I’m in it, so maybe it will bring some comfort to you as well.

So, it turns out Twitter is actually a pretty great place to connect with scientists and learn about not only their research but also them as human beings. I’ve plugged my Twitter account on here before, but I am far more active now. You can follow me @microcosmia.

I have not been actively taking pictures (because Utah =/= slime molds and mushrooms), but I have gotten back into painting in a big way. Turns out watercoloring faces is a great way for me to unwind after using my brain all day. I feel silly plugging this side of myself here, where I present myself as a scientist, but for those who are interested in where I’ve been most active online lately, you can find me at my personal Instagram account @bottledutopia. (I’d advise against following if you have any rodent phobias.)

I hope you all are doing well, and thanks for sticking around while grad school is eating me up. If you have any questions about anything ever, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. <3


Been online window shopping for puzzles (for Christmas) and I can’t tell if this 1000 piece puzzle is the worst or the best


Puzzle update: I bought this for my grandma as an early Christmas present but she hated it so I finished it for her (with some help from family/friends during Christmas). It’s pretty easy once you organize your pieces and there’s definitely a technique involved (you have to follow the gradient of color and it’s impossible to work separately in sections). 10/10 recommend for anyone who likes color theory, painting, art, or ridiculous puzzles

It’s possible I liked this lichen-encrusted boulder so much that I took a selfie with it

I’ve been vegan for almost 7 years now (and vegetarian for 1 year before that) and my extended family still doesn’t get it and they don’t consider that I too might want to eat during a family dinner/thanksgiving. anyway my aunt who lives 12+ hrs away decided she’s going to come over with our extended family and she planned our thanksgiving for us by getting food catered to a local hotel  and I’m apparently expected to bring my own food to a random hotel instead of eating in my house where I live even though they’re all traveling hundreds of miles to be here. like, I don’t expect others to accommodate me just because but it flat-out makes me not want to eat with them again in these situations and i’m not obligated to feel satisfied or happy about being uprooted from my house and food that I can eat to spend time in a random hotel with my aunt who doesn’t care if I eat or not

I suffer from impostor syndrome like every other grad student, but for me I take it more as a challenge than a point of weakness. I’m like, let’s see how far I can get in science before people realize I’m just an artist who’s winging it. It’s a game I’m playing.


I try to stay focused on science/lichens on this blog but a cat adopted me, and I can’t even focus on my own research because every time I think about her my heart swells. Anyone want to hear the story?

Five nights ago, I heard a meowing outside my door, and as soon as I opened the door, this little lady waltzed in uninvited.

We knocked on doors of our complex and posted in Facebook groups, but no owner stepped forward. By hour 36 my partner and I were both deeply attached. Who wouldn’t be? She is sweet and charming, wants love and company more than food yet is content just existing in the same room as you, lays on my chest when I cry (which is relatively often considering I’m working on my PhD), only meows when she has some urgent thing to say, and is very polite about staying away from human food. She entirely ignores the rats (they, on the other hand, have a hard time ignoring the stink of predator). She fit perfectly into our lives.

So when, on day 3, we found out she had a microchip, we were devastated. I felt like I had been delivered a gift for my mental health, and it was being taken away. Still, we did what any good person would do and contacted the chip company so they would contact her owner.

On day 4, the owner reached out to my partner. I hadn’t been made aware of this, nor was I in the loop when my partner emailed the owner back telling him how profoundly she impacted our lives in just a handful of days and asked if there was any possibility we could keep her. I only saw the reply from her owner a few hours later, saying yes, we could keep her. He lives in an RV park 5 miles away, and she had been missing for a month (as an aside: I have no idea how this sweet child with no survival instinct to be seen had survived a month on the streets). He works 12 hour shifts, and he always felt bad about leaving a cat who so loves company alone.

They always say that cats choose their owners. This cat, who we’ve named Kasidy, went up the stairs to my third floor apartment, chose my door from many, and meowed. I am not vaguely religious, but five days ago the cat gods looked down on me and blessed me with this child.

(Dax, Kira, and Moogie don’t feel very blessed, but they are adjusting, see?)

So I recently discovered milkweed plants prefer acidic soil…and blueberry plants also prefer acidic soil. So I bought two more blueberry bushes and this narrowleaf milkweed plant (pictured above) and made an acidic-soil-zone in my garden. Yesterday I found these two caterpillars enjoying the plant; one is monarch and idk about the other but i’m going to keep watching them grow

I was always a bit worried because it seemed like my one strength as a scientist was remembering scientific names and being able to ID plants/mushrooms/lichens with relative ease, which is a helpful skill but not necessarily sought after. Now, however, I have uncovered another superpower thanks to my advisor encouraging me to go down rabbit holes: being able to dig deep into the literature and efficiently synthesize knowledge on a topic I know next to nothing about. I am so excited to share my new knowledge with all of ya’ll!

This blog will be in a bit of a lull for the foreseeable future – I rarely get out for photo hikes these days (not necessarily because I’m too busy but because Utah is not really for me – I prefer meandering not climbing mountains), but I spend a tremendous amount of time reading scientific papers so that I can set up my research projects. My goal is to create a bridge between my research and non-scientists. I believe that lichens are one of the coolest things on the planet, and I refuse to keep my findings inaccessible within the ivory towers. Everything I learn is something I hope for you to learn too. But it will take a bit for me to get to the point where I am organized in my deliverance of knowledge (I’m always open to spontaneous questions on Tumblr though, especially if I am looking for a break/distraction).