Purple coneflowers. ©Erin Gerecke (own photo) Many years ago, when I was pondering what kinds of flowering plants to put in my first yard, my mother suggested coneflowers, one of her favorites. I was less impressed with them at the time. I thought coneflowers looked spindly and awkward, a gangly, dry sort of plant that … Continue reading Summer’s coneflowers
Following the end of my academic year back in May, I was fortunate to be able to take a couple of family vacations. In traditional American style, we first loaded up our most fuel-efficient family car and drove a whole day across the country to find an ocean. A few weeks later, we drove in … Continue reading Science on vacation
I haven't written anything on this blog for awhile. I got busy with work. I had bronchitis. I was also playing music and enjoying some downtime. My priority was completing (and even enjoying?) the many end-of-the-year academic tasks and celebrations that are part of my job and the rhythms of family life. And in the … Continue reading Phenology and the arrival of spring
Photos Public Domain [Public domain] February is the shortest month, but to me it often feels like one of the longest. Although the daylight hours start to lengthen, the persistence of the last of winter weather (gray, damp, and cold) leaves me feeling tired rather than energized. February also seems to be one of those … Continue reading February science connections
A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for some sort of newsy tidbit about circadian rhythms—the daily cycles that drive much of the physiology and behavior of living things—to share with my class of undergraduate students. My pick was a recent opinion piece by Kevin Gaston—an ecologist and conservation biologist in the UK—called "Lighting … Continue reading Goodnight, night lights?
It's been a while since my last blog post. I've had a busy month: launching a new semester with students, learning about a new sport with one of my kids, enjoying the last of the warm days outdoors, finding some local apples... and discovering the world of competitive baking on TV. But I've kept my … Continue reading When plants make headlines
Insect adventures A couple of days ago, my son spotted an insect riding along on our car's windshield shortly after I had started driving. A very pretty green grasshopper had found its way aboard while I was parked near some grass and trees. I hoped it would be alarmed enough by the wind to jump … Continue reading Insects of summer
In one of my very first blog posts on this site ("Raindrops keep falling on our heads…and on the microbes") I shared some science news I had seen about microorganisms and clouds. Scientists across different disciplines are trying to learn about the relationship between the planet's water cycles and the growth of tiny organisms (such … Continue reading Tiny science update: Clouds and microbes
Over the past week or so, I saw headline after headline reporting on extremes: heat waves in the Arctic, in England, in Japan. Wildfires in California and across Europe, including the Arctic circle. Drought in Australia. Extreme summer weather conditions around the world have suddenly become high-profile news, and none of it is encouraging. It made … Continue reading Climate and weather: Is this the new normal?
Did you see the news recently about the whale that died in Thailand because it had a stomach full of plastic bags and other trash—more than 17 pounds' worth? How about about increasingly vocal efforts to remove plastic drinking straws from the list of common dining accessories? Plastic news really caught my eye that past couple … Continue reading The perils of plastic