Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Road Trip Record: Three Ecosystems in One Hike

RMNP Montane Ecosystem
Time to get in the wayback machine for a trip down science/nature travel memory lane.  In the summer of 2012, just after I had finished my MS degree and just before I was slated to move on (and up the coast) to start my PhD, Meridith and I planned and executed the Amazing Besties National Parks Road Trip!  Meridith was tantalizingly close to completing her MS degree as well, so it totally counted as a double celebratory trip!  Our goal was to see as many national parks as possible, with an eye to balancing quality and quantity, and road trip our way from Las Cruces, New Mexico (Mer’s former hood), up to Portland, OR for the Ecological Society of America conference, then scoot back down the California coast to Long Beach, where I would pack my stuff into a truck and move!  If you’re new to this series of blog posts, I highly recommend you check out the summaries of the early stages of our trip, which were originally posted on Meridith’s former blog and later migrated to our current one.  Clickity-click for:  the take-off, Carlsbad Caverns National Park (days one and two), ABQ New Mexico, on the road, Zion National Park (day one and two), me getting us really lost, Arches National Park, a babal about invasive species, and Rocky Mountain National Park day one!   

Day 11
Rocky Mountain National Park
Total Miles Hiked: 8.9 (67.2 overall)

About 95% certain this is a portion of Bear Lake from above.
When last we left our Amazing Besties National Park Road Trip, we had just finished our first full day in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We had taken an awesome hike up Deer Mountain, seen 18 big horned sheep, and I had beaten Meridith in a friendly game of pool.  We didn’t let all this fun keep us up too late though.  We had big plans for the next day, July 20, 2012.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top 5 Science Podcasts

Screen capture from my list of podcasts!
I’ve been out of the academic atmosphere for over a year now. Sometimes I just really miss getting my learn on. Academia pretty much ruled my entire life before I graduated with my MS degree (and it’s about to take back over!), so you would think I’d enjoy a well deserved break from, well...thinking. But no, I missed it terribly and have found becoming an avid podcast listener to be one of my more enjoyable hobbies. I love that I have a nice little list of podcasts queued up on my phone, so whenever I find myself with an extra 20 minutes or so I can just hit play. There’s no decision making, which is really nice for someone as indecisive as I am.

While I'm sure the internet has many sites for finding podcasts, iTunes is a great starting place. Their podcasts are collected, organized, and ranked, making it easy to browse categories of your interest and subscribe to those you'd like to have pushed to your device. Again, I always listen on my phone, but you can choose where to store your podcasts. I download a few episodes at a time when I’m around wi-fi so I don’t have to use up any cellular data. If you aren’t able to listen in this manner (maybe you don’t have a compatible phone/device) there are a few alternatives. Android users can use the Podkicker app. You can listen through iTunes on your PC. You could listen through a podcast website, such as Podcast Alley, from any computer. Several podcasts even have their own websites where you can listen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Eco-Life Hacks: Making Homemade Stock

There are a few things that I truly love in this world:  science (obvi), my family/friends/cat, NAPS(!), and finding new life hacks that are both thrifty and eco-friendly.  Don’t get me wrong, I like things that are thrifty or eco-friendly, but when you get the two together…  These are usually little things or habit changes that I can pretty easily sneak into my normal routine.  They make me feel positive about my choices and they make it a little easier for me to buy obnoxious (read: more expensive) organic kale.  Win, win!  Right?

Allow me to play Devil’s advocate for a moment.  Our environmental problems are big, huge even.  The impacts of our personal choices are generally small, potentially imperceptible.  I get this.  People who tell you otherwise are not being straight with you.  So, why do I still make these small lifestyle changes in the face of all the facts?  There are a couple of reasons.  First, I think that over my lifetime my small choices can add up, and maybe that still won’t make a huge difference, but at least I can say I did my best.  Second, I truly and strongly feel a cultural shift toward these choices in the population at large can make a big difference in the years to come.  As we have seen so many times over the decades, a cultural revolution is the most effective way to make lasting change.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Welcome to Sweet Tea, Science

Mt. St. Helens, Summer 2012
Let us start by first saying welcome! We are excited and proud to be launching the Sweet Tea, Science blog today. We are two scientists from Kentucky currently working on obtaining our PhDs.  Aside from academic pursuits, we are passionate about sharing our interests in various STEM topics, travel, and sustainable living. It is our hope that through Sweet Tea, Science we can share our knowledge, practice our communication skills, and learn from you!

Costa Rica, Winter 2007
In addition to being hysterical scientists, we are also real life friends! We met in 2005 at Western Kentucky University where we both obtained a BS in Biology with concentrations in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation. Meridith is an overachiever, and also has a minor in mathematics! During our time at WKU (go Tops!), we both completed Honor’s theses and graduated from WKU’s Honors College.  While in college we studied (we took pretty much every biology class together), traveled (numerous Central and South American countries, Africa, Michigan…), and adventured together (everything is an adventure!).  After graduating, we continued to learn and explore as a team, and now we are tackling the blogging world as a dynamic duo.
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