Very sad to learn last week of the passing of our friend China in Bahía de los Ángeles. China provided so much warmth and affection to me, my colleagues, our kids, and the community. In addition to literally sustaining us with her delicious food, China’s presence was (and will continue to be) a real touchstone in the lives of those who met her.

When our daughter was born, China celebrated with us. When everyday struggles with experiments or work intruded on our lives, China was a regular, steadying presence - always there with a bright smile and a warm meal (or, importantly, a cup of “café fuerte”).

And as important as China was for scientists and staff, she played an even bigger role in the lives of our students. I remember many times seeing students helping China in the kitchen, when they could have been resting or sleeping in. China was a sort of surrogate parent for many who were missing that connection while in the field.

And all of that is just the hundreds of lives I intimately witnessed being touched by China. Her taco shop was a hub for the community of Bahía de los Ángeles - a place where residents and tourists alike could get their fill of delicious food, catch up on the events in town, and feel at home.

We will miss China deeply, and Bahía de los Ángeles will not be the same without her. It is comforting to know that memory will live on in the community and far beyond.


more art & science

I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of Rene Martin, a scientist who not only does cool research (with W. Leo Smith, himself a brilliant evolutionary biologist), but she ALSO is an incredibly talented artist. Of course, I commissioned her to do a Fundulus painting for me, specifically requesting that it be a little more caricature-ish than her usual (also amazing but more photorealistic) work. Not only do I love the artwork, but you can (and should) check out her website, where you can order prints of her work. May I suggest that any wall in your house or office would be improved by a copy of her Lampris guttatus, or Crenicichla minuano.

Hopeful for our future

There are many reasons to be anxious and depressed in the news every day, from bird populations disappearing to hate crimes, so it was refreshing to attend our campus’ Queer Students & Allies in STEM (qSTEM) event last week. Seeing so many of our students (and faculty) showing their support, hearing their stories, and witnessing these students’ strength and resolve to make things better gave me optimism for our future - something in short supply these days.


A Reflective Field Season

This is my 20th summer of doing field research in Bahía de los Ángeles. I started back in the summer of 2000, working with Gary Huxel and Paco Piñero, trying to keep things together (on a number of levels) following the deaths of Gary Polis and colleagues Mike Rose, Shigeru Nakano, Takuya Abe, and Masahiko Higashi in a tragic research accident.

A lot has happened in the last 20 years. We moved back to San Diego; we both have jobs we love, have forged new friendships and collaborations while strengthening those we already had, welcomed a wonderful daughter into our lives, and had to say goodbye too soon to some friends and family. Through it all, Bahia has been a constant, both as a source of renewal, my second home, a nexus for creating scientific and personal relationships, and as a natural laboratory for exploring ecological questions.

So, not only was this a great trip for many of the usual reasons (exciting research, working with friends, amazing students, and a stunning location), but it also reminds me of just how lucky I am.

Art and Science

So, there are these two phenomenal artists (Joey Rose and Alexandra Underwood) who were working on an art project related to climate change and ocean acidification. They were wondering who some of the key scientists are in the field, past and present, and I put that question out to a bunch of fellow scientists.

A few names kept reappearing on people’s lists (maybe a future post here). But one of those names that kept showing up, but is probably NOT on the radar of the general layperson, is Dr. Lisa Levin, who ALSO happens to have been my PhD advisor.

I have mentioned Lisa before - recently, in fact, in this post. But I could not state her achievements better than the artist, Joey Rose did in his instagram post:

Lisa Levin: Educator. Explorer. Scientist. Researcher. Conservationist. Policy Influencer. She does everything! Her studies and observations revolve around deep sea ecosystems deprived of oxygen and those subject to acidification and sulphide stress. (All very recently discovered man-made issues.) Among many achievements, she’s also the founder of the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative.
— Joey Rose

Joey’s portrait of her is just too good not to share, so here you go! What an incredible display of talent.


a great op-ed in the union tribune

So nice to hear a thoughtful, powerful woman in STEM talk about diversity and inclusion in our local paper. Marlem is a wonderful, articulate young scientist. She, her husband, and her brother are all making the world a better place.

now reposted with improved photo - a picture of Marlem doing fieldwork back in 2007, while a student at Hoover High

now reposted with improved photo - a picture of Marlem doing fieldwork back in 2007, while a student at Hoover High

Click the picture above to go to the article.