Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm speaking at the Blogging While Brown Conference

I have been selected as a panelist/presenter at the 3rd Annual Blogging While Brown Conference. I attended this same conference last year and was initially unsure of what I might gain from the conference, I was pleasantly surprised and was very glad I had attended.  I learned some new things about the technology and direction of social media among communities of color.  But more importantly, I met some amazing people, some amazingly supportive people.  I was feeling as if the Black Blog-o-sphere seemed dominated by pop culture and political commentary, and that blogs about science/nature/education written by people of color seemed overlooked.

Social media (and the real life interactions that come about from it) are just one of many ways to engage people in ideas and actions.  The people in that room helped me realize that we could work together, leveraging our strengths (and blog audiences) and helped me achieve some very important goals related to growing my blog. It was at this same time I entered the Blog Your Way to Antarctica Contest.  Before I was out fo the Chicago city limits, my newly minted @BWBConference friends were the very first to jump on bandwagon.  Thanks to their support (and the support of many, many, more) I was in 8th place (out of nearly 800 contestants)!

I will be participating in the panel: "Beyond Gossip, Hip Hop, Hair, and Politics: Bloggers and Change Agents and Educators".  Also on the panel are Luvvie of Awesomely Luvvie and Latoya Peterson of  We'll each share tips with other bloggers about technology strategies we've employed to use our blogs for initiating major initiatives and awareness campaigns over important issues often not introduced in more popular blogs.

Check out the official Speaker Announcement video on YouTube.

I will be representing for the science/nature/education/outdoor recreation blogs out there! I will discuss using online tools to engage under-represented audiences in STEM and how to enhance scientific literacy and research participation via Citizen Science Projects, Science fairs, etc. Plus, I'm excited to get STEM on the forefront. Blogs about basic yet equally important issues like education and specific to my interests - science education - always seem to be overlooked, especially among blogs authored by people of color. Even when political issues required some better understanding of science, the science is often overlooked in favor of a sensationalized story.  I hope to change that.

My goals as a presenter are three-fold:
1) to initiate a dialogue about STEM education in formal and informal settings with other bloggers;
2) encourage communities of color to become more engaged in science/nature activities (online and in real life); and
3) share my strategies of how I managed to become one of the more popular African-American science/nature bloggers on the web.

Registration is open to all.  I hope some of you will come out.  The line-up of speakers is great.  Plus, they are offering a free Beginner's Bloggers Bootcamp on June 18th.   More information about the conference (including the bios of all of the speakers) can be found at the conference website.

Finally, if you're interested in assisting my efforts to attend the conference, then feel free to drop me a line and we can discuss sponsorship options. In the meantime, I appreciate your support of my blog and professional endeavors.

Many thanks to each of you!
demystifying nature, letting everyone experience

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Diversity in Science Carnival # 9: All Shades of Green is up

Yes, it's a party!  Celebrating the people of Science and Engineering!
With April being the month we celebrate Earth Day, Arbor Day, and Environmental Education what better way to celebrate these Green activities than to celebrate the people who make Green happen.
Diversity in Science Carnival #9 - All Shades of Green.

Dianne Glave of Rooted in the Earth - a blog about Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage, hosted her very first carnival.  And I love her take on the theme - A 'Scratch-n-Sniff' Blog Carnival: "What does April (spring) smell like to you?"  Each submitter shares his/her story and blog post.

It's great.  Check it out and please leave a comment at each author's page.

Plus, be sure to join us for Diversity in Science Carnival #10: Shattering Stereotypes in STEM, hosted at Quiche MoraineWe are inviting all posts that challege pre-conceptions and mis-conceptions of who scientists/engineers are, what they look like, how they behave, what they do, etc. A cross-disciplinary examination of this issue is encourged and posts about everything from the merging of art and science or science and faith, to posts that highlight social life to how people from well-represented groups are strong advocates of diversity initiatives.

Submission deadline May 25. Carnival will post May 27.
Submit via this link.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Travelog San Francisco: Protecting the Coastal Bay

When I was in San Francisco I did the tourist-y things.  I took the double-decker bus to Fisherman's Wharf, China Town, and the Golden Gate Bridge. I love the Bay.  I can see why people bit the bullet and pay the huge costs of living to call The Bay home.  I certainly would.

The Bay - the sea and land areas near it is a multi-use area.  Once a very important naval base for defense, The City's Naval history is still noticeable.  But people also enjoy tour excursions out on the water, visits to Alcatraz, plus recreational water sports.  It's an amazing place full of beauty and wildlife. 

Then I wonder, how does all of this human activity - this city and its water use and disposal of waste water, these vessels for transportation all coexist with the natural world. No doubt nature takes a hit, but who are the people and agencies responsible for being responsible?

As I was walking along the boardwalk, I came across this interpretive display.

It seems the gentleman mentioned at the bottom of the sign is responsible for Protecting the Bay, Mr. David Hayes - Project Manager.

Sometimes recognizing diversity in natural resource careers isn't so conspicuous, but it's always a great thing to discover...and share.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day 2010

Happy Earth Day!
Today marks the 40th annual celebration of the Earth.  Let's celebrate it and let's appreciate it.  We've only got one home (planet), let's take care of it.  Hope you get to enjoy the Earth Day activities in your area.  Get outdoors,pick up litter, recycle, bicylce, hike, walk, bird watch, and find something great to enjoy!

I'm headed to Murray State University (in Kentucky).  I've giving my first ever seminar talk.  College science departments often have weekly or monthly speakers come and talk about their research.  As a grad student, it's a regular thing to see and hear professors from all over the region or nation come and talk about the papers we may be reading.  Undergraduates sometimes attend.  But as a newly minted PhD this is a big deal to meal.  It's like a debutante ball!  I'll be giving a talk about my dissertation research - a reacap of my defense talk I gave a little more than a month ago.  Plus, I hope to make some great connections.

Yay, for science!

As usual, thanks for your well wishes and support.  Everything you contribute helps fund these little science adventures.  In this case, gas money to Murray, Kentucky.

demystifying nature, letting everyone experience.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Happy International Beaver Day

Happy International Beaver Day!
photo credit: Gainesville State College Tumbling Creek Woods Beaver Pond web page
Today, Tuesday, April 7th is International Beaver Day!
The Beavers, Wetlands and Wildlife Organization is trying to show people how important beavers really are, and the group has produced an educational DVD and sent 1,000 copies to teachers all over the state of New York.

One member says the beaver is one of the most important wild animals for a number of reasons. First, because they build dams and prevent flooding. And second, because beavers protect us from greenhouse gas emissions.

"Beaver wetlands, like all wetlands, are the best ecosystem for storing carbon," said Sharon Brown, of Beavers, Wetlands, and Wildlife. "And if they are destroyed, carbon dioxide goes into the air and that's a dangerous greenhouse gas."

April 7 was chosen as International Beaver Day because it is the birthday of the late Dorothy Richards of Little Falls, who studied beavers for 50 years.
Beavers, scientific name Castor canadensis, are the largest rodent in North America, and the second largest rodent in the world. Beavers are important animal ecologically and historically. In fact, Missouri (the state where I live now) and the westward expansion of the United States can credit the humble beaver for its place in history. Why? Beaver fur was the number one commodity in the new world and the many systems of rivers and wetlands in the western half of North American proved to be very successful trapping grounds in the 1700 and 1800s. Even today, Beaver are still very important fur species. Though I am no fan of fur, I recognize the important roles trapping, hunting, and fishing have in wildlife species management plans. Because we value our current and urban lifestyles, it is important that we take the time to appreciate wildlife and understand more about their behavior and ecology so that they will be around for centuries to come.
In fact, I know a fellow scientist who researches on beavers. I found one of his scientific papers online that you could read for yourself and learn more about Beavers and why they are important.

Understanding North American Beaver Behavior as an Aid to Management
by Bruce Schulte and Dietland Mueller-Schwarze
The next question you may be wondering is, "Do beavers live in or near cities? Or do they only live out in the forest or country?" The answer is a big YES, to both questions. Beavers do live in and near urban areas if the habitat is right. What's the right habitat? Flowing water like rivers (large or small) or streams and creeks. Beavers live right here in St. Louis along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. I've see their dams under the bridges - the MLK near downtown, the I-270 and the Old Chain of Rocks Bridges. Huge, big, towering dams. Sorry, I don't have any photos (another reason I wish I had bigger, better camera equipment. I love to show real pictures and proof to you.) But they look like this:

photo credit: Skip Mackey Fishing Stories webpage

If you've ever notice a huge pile of sticks and branches in the water, then you can best believe you have come across a beaver dam. Another sign of beaver activity is this:

This chewed off stump, often near a river or stream means you have active, healthy beavers near by. Beavers are important wetland species, because they are engineers, literally. They create habitat for other animals - like fish, insects, birds, other mammals. Create pools of water for land animals to drink from, and bridges for land animals to cross from one side of the habitat to another. This exposes them to new resources like shelter, mates, food, and places to hide from predators. So, think fondly of the beaver and keep your eyes open for these amazing creatures.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Travelog San Francisco: Blooms from The Bay

I visited the Bay area (San Francisco and Berkeley, California) for the first time year. I LOVED the Bay. I could so live there.

Spring time blooms in Union Square, San Francisco

The color of San Francisco is violet. These blue-violet colored flowers seemed to be everywhere. This picture was taken at Golden Gate Park.
This plant reminds me of the water pickerels in Missouri. Are they related? I'm asking my botany friends.

A very pretty in pink cultivar. Notice the bee?

Daisy-type flowers, you know Asteriidae were my favorite flowers. Isn't the purple color just lovely. The bright California sunshine really made the color pop!

I just loved this flower when I saw it. Warm tones like dark oranges, yellows and reds are my favorite colors.

Staring down the center I seemed to be carried away. I loved low the uniformly yellow-orange flower had a deeper hue in the middle near the anthers and filament. The anthers and petals are the exact same hue. Lovely.
My friend Rue, of Outdoor Afro, later told me this is the California Poppy, the state flower of California.
California Love

Thanks for supporting Urban Science Adventures! © now and into the future.

Thank you very much,

Monday, April 05, 2010

Travelog: Arial Shots

When I have the great fortune to travel from place to place, I take my camera with me and document the local scenes and wildlife. My photojournalism usually starts right out the gate with take off. It's fascinating to me to see a city, my own or a new one, from a few hundred feet above. The structures and natural landscapes are still discernible and the vantage is always breathtaking. It really puts an area in perspective. Usually, I notice how most cities are more green than we can really appreciate. Usually there are patches of woods or prairies or water systems connected together by pencil then traces separately by roads. Mainly because airports are pesky places to live, these areas are usually very nice urban wildlife refuges.

My most recent trip - a visit to San Francisco for a Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science Focus group, I flew into Minneapolis and noticed the rising water levels that have been making the news.

Minneapolis, Minnesota near the airport. Saturday, March 20, 2010

approaching the airport, airplane descending. The trees are submerged.
The high water levels are only a few feet from business buildings.
I'll see more of this high water, down river when I return to St. Louis and as the spring thaw sends more water into the river.
Check out Birdchick's pictures and commentary of the Mississippi River flooding, around the same time in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I had a two-stop layover to San Francisco, so my next stop was Salt Lake City, Utah. This is a beautiful city and a chance to see a very different ecosystem as well as a very different geological formation - mountains, the Rocky Mountains to be exact.

I love how this very large urban area (the largest, most populous city in Utah) sits comfortably next to these majestic snow capped mountains. Winter outdoor sports are all the rage here and I bet the wildlife watching (plants and animals) is interesting as well.

I'm imagining how different the urban ecology is here compared to where I live now.


Hope you enjoyed my travelog from my latest excursion. I have several more trips planned this summer - science presentations and science conferences. You know I'll share with you.

Please consider supporting Urban Science Adventures! © now and into the future.

Thank you very much,

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Spotted on Sunday: Gateway Arch

yes, I took this picture.

Spotted on Sunday: Me and my family at one of our National Parks - the Gateway Arch & Jefferson Nation Expansion Memorial. We visted the Gateway Arch when they were in town (St. Louis) for my defense.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

It's April no fooling

Wow! It's April already. The last couple of weeks have been like a whirlwind. I was completely preoccupied with defending my dissertation, but things didn't slow down after that. It picked up speed. Let me recap the last couple of weeks.

I defended March 10. That's my celebration cake featuring, yes, buttercream prairie voles - a whole family, including mama vole with attached pinky pups.

Visited San Francisco for the first time in my life. It was grand. I love it. Saw all of the sights. Took one of those double-decker tour buses and saw all of the sights.

Really, really great science museum. It's a Planetarium, Aquarium, Natural History Museum, and Terrarium all in one. Plus, it has a living roof. I checked out the Sharks & Rays swimming.

I serendipitously discovered that the American Chemical Society was in San Francisco a the same time for the Spring 2010 National Meeting & Exposition. This scientific society is so large they host spring and summer meetings. Insane. I tried to stop through and check out the exhibit hall, perhaps meet some chemists to interview; but I couldn't get through security. No kidding.

Then I took the BART over to Berkeley, homeland of my academic parents. I was lured to the Bay for a focus group meeting with COPUS, or the Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science. It's a grassroots community of researchers, scientists, engineers, teachers, and everyday people who want to share science with everyone.

Here's just a sample of some of the grand people I met with. I'm super excited about the future direction of COPUS and I'm looking to engage every single of one you. Look out.

I also got to catch up with some friends and fellow bloggers who live in The Bay area.
My friend Alex is an awesome science photographer.

And I finally got to meet my newest blogging BFF, Rue of Outdoor Afro. We had a blast. If I land a job out here, I already having a running buddy. She's the best.

Wow! Which brings me to today. It's a beautiful spring day in my part of the country. How's the weather in your neighborhood?The sunny days, warmer weather, the need to move and exercise more fills me with such energy. Everything is sprouting and growing, almost overnight. Have your cameras ready and take lots of photos. The trees and lawns will be blooming in no time.

And April is the perfect time to celebrate Green. Through the many earth-centered initiatives you're bound to find a way to connect to the mother of us all - Mother Earth. Join me and others in these initiatives.
Earth Day: April 22, 2010
National Arbor Day: April 30, 2010
All this Greeness has inspired the upcoming edition of the Diversity in Science Carnival. The April carnival will be hosted at Rooted in the Earth (no the pun did not escape me). Since April is the month we celebrate earth day, arbor day, environmental awareness and all other earthy-eco-related things, the the theme for Diversity in Science Carnival will be “All Shades of Green” Diversity in Outdoor and Environmental Awareness. If you are blogger interested in participating, please submit your posts via the carnival submission form.
But also be sure to check out the super-fab March Diversity in Science Carnival. Wild About Ants did a superb job with the Women's History Month theme.

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