Sewing has been a hobby since I was a child. My favorite sewing projects are charismatic stuffed creatures and objects, such as the DNA double helix and the tree pictured here. I've also made a stuffed robot with a battery-powered lightbulb, and a giant topographic blanket map. My next project on the horizon is a plush plant cell!

Sewing
Creativity is one of my greatest strengths as a scientist and educator.

Art and Design

Photography is just a fun hobby for me, but I'm especially proud of one photo that was featured in American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), CBS, and other news outlets. As an amateur photographer, my favorite subjects are fungi and plants.

 It can be difficult to wrap one's head around the size and scale of life in soil. Since my graduate research focuses on soil microbes (bacteria and fungi), I wanted to help my audience "visualize" the soil environment. Since microscopes are both expensive and have a bit of an associated learning curve, I created a one-meter-wide paper mache model that represented a one-millimeter-wide soil aggregate. To represent the size of bacteria I glued beans, rice, and seeds to the outside of the model. To represent fungi, I attached cords and strings. The roots on the model are made of stuffed pantyhose, and an oribatid mite completes the scene. The model is now fondly known around Manhattan, KS as the "soil lump," and has made appearances at many informal science events.

 

This idea was adapted from the original publication, "Scale Model of a Soil Aggregate and Associated Organisms." 

Model of a Soil Aggregate
Model of a Soil Aggregate
Nature Photography
 

While writing is a big part of my job, it's also an art form that I enjoy. As an undergraduate, I won an award for a popular science piece that I wrote. The piece, entitled, "Insects, it's what's for dinner?" can be viewed on the Abstracts Journal for Undergraduate Writing webpage. 

Writing