BEHIND THE SCOPE
Growing up under the guidance of my beatnik grandmother, I was taught to reflect on the path I wanted to travel and once I knew my heart, follow through until I could live my joy every day. I took my grandmother’s advice. In my early twenties I traveled the world working as a motorcycle mechanic in India, a barber in Chicago, and a fisherman in the South Asian seas. During that time I read 19th century literature, refined my eye for photography, and reflected on who I was and what adventure I wanted to make my career in.
It was in Indonesia as I sought to photograph some ferns along a roadside that I realized that the bulk of what I had imaged during the past two years had been plants: flowers in Nepal, grasses in India, ferns of the North Pacific islands. I realized I wanted to be a botanist, and to teach others about the natural world. In reflection I realized that plants have always been close to me. As a child, my grandmother afforded me a little space in our trailer home where I could grow whatever I wanted so long as they fit in a cut off-soda can.
Cryptogams have always been my favorite types of plants, the straightforwardness of spore dispersal has always felt so elegant to me. Working with Dr. Tom Campbell of Northeastern Illinois University, I came to The Field Museum of Chicago where I made collections, and keyed out the local bryophytes in order to develop distribution maps and to determine the effectiveness of bryophytes as environmental indictors. Soon I was hired on by Dr. Matt von Konrat and was charged with digitally imaging the type specimens, which I did with photographic compositions that shared vital information, but also celebrated the beauty of the plants. It was a perfect merging of my love for both photography and bryophytes.My time at the museum has finalized my determination to become a taxonomist. Currently I am seeking a graduate program in biosystematics. Now that I know my heart, my path stretches before me and I look forward to where it leads.