Category: personal

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).

I have accidentally started a collection of mushroom enamel pins – the one on the left from Kickstarter, and the one on the right from RatLadyArt. Needs more mycological diversity though…

My birthday is next week, and there’s a chance that I asked my mom for a kit to sequence my gut microbiome because how can I study lichen microbiomes but ignore my own…

Me: *wants to live and work in lush ecosystems*
Also me: *only gets research opportunities in arid places, including literally the driest nonpolar desert on earth*

How did you get into lichen? What made you want to study the funky little soups?

I was introduced to them on a class trip to the southern tip of Chile (tangent: an anonymous donor made that trip possible. they were only offering it to 10 students, and I was like, eh I might as well apply even though I probably won’t be accepted. and then I was! the lesson of this story is to apply to things randomly), and I was fascinated. Then I got home and realized they were there too! Something I like about lichens is that people don’t really notice them until you point them out, and then they notice them HARD. Anyone who’s been on a hike with me has been infected.

Anyway, I got into mycology for fun, and I remained taken with lichen. I thought they’d always just be a hobby for me, so it’s awesome that I get to study them now.

You don't have to answer if you don't want but if you're not Mormon, what made you decide to go? I feel like BYU isn't really a school people go to without being Mormon unless they're on (athletic, usually) scholarship or are from a different country. Seems like it would be a hard school to be not-mormon at.

I went to BYU entirely for my advisor, and it’s been a worthwhile decision. I really enjoy the faculty in my department, and I’ve gotten many opportunities that I wouldn’t have elsewhere.

A handful of grad students in my department are non-Mormon (they try to recruit non-Mormon women otherwise there’d be almost no female grad students). It is very hard to live in a place where I am not part of the dominant culture. It can be alienating much of the time. But it could be worse. 🤷‍♀️