Navigating Nature

A globe-trotting activist communicates science and the environment



Chile Part 4: One Week North

Even though it’s now been two months since my trip to Chile (sorry for the blogging hiatus – moving to Chicago and starting a new job took over my life), I am still immensely grateful for my six-week adventure there. My last big adventure in Chile was to the Atacama Desert, which is the most arid place in the world (besides the poles), and receives the highest radiation and celestial exposure – which means it is very dry, the sun is extremely strong, and the stars are incredible. Even though I was there during a full moon, I could still see the Milky Way and thousands of stars filling every corner of the night sky. Continue reading “Chile Part 4: One Week North”

Chile Part 3: Two Weeks South

During the second half of July, I headed to Chile’s beautiful southern lake region, about halfway between Santiago and Punta Arenas. An inspiring landscape of volcanoes covered in snow, rushing turquoise rivers, green coastal cliffs, and deep blue lakes, it was my first taste of a very different Chilean landscape. I’ve been learning and talking a lot about how many different ecosystems Chile has along its 4,000-km length, but it was amazing to experience it first hand. In my two weeks south, I explored the outdoors, learned about the history of the region, discovered more about my family heritage, and got a taste of the culture of the south. Continue reading “Chile Part 3: Two Weeks South”

Making Friends in the Brazilian Amazon

After spending the first week of our Brazilian vacation in Bahia, we headed to the interior of Brazil, deep into the Amazon. We flew at night to Manaus, Brazil’s westernmost large city and home to 2.5 million people, and all we could see on the way there was blackness. Even during the night, it was easy to tell how dense and enormous the Amazon was, despite the huge amount of deforestation that is going on. Continue reading “Making Friends in the Brazilian Amazon”

A Scary New Source of Energy

Deep below the crashing waves, the ocean rumbles. Away from the boats, away from the people, away from the species we are familiar with – the ones we eat, the ones we admire on snorkeling trips to coral reefs. Down here, the enormous pressure would blow a human to smithereens in a fraction of a second. Down here, it is dark and vast. But it is not empty – there are creatures we could not even dare to dream of, like 20-foot-long worms and gigantic crabs. There is something else here though, something we are daring to dream of, and something some people want desperately. They are called methane hydrates. Continue reading “A Scary New Source of Energy”

Where Did Your Pet Fish Come From?

Last spring, I was living on a tall ship that was sailing from Tahiti to Hawaii. On the way, we stopped at Christmas Island, which is part of the nation of Kiribati. While there, we let off two members of our crew so they could fly back to California for other obligations while we continued on our way. Christmas Island is in the middle of nowhere, so they were the only passengers that got onto the plane. Well, the only human passengers. As our friends told us later, they were joined by hundreds of crates of tropical fish. Continue reading “Where Did Your Pet Fish Come From?”

Canyons of the West (And a Few Odds and Ends)

It’s been a few too many weeks since I last actively participated in the blogosphere (as an excuse, I was finishing up final exams at Stanford) but I had a fabulous spring break last week that I want to write about. We had nine days, so my boyfriend Bryant and I hopped in the car and took off for the Southwest from Palo Alto. Our ultimate destination: the national parks of southern Utah and northern Arizona, none of which I had ever visited before. For those of you that know me well, you’ll know that I was thrilled about exploring this uncharted territory. Continue reading “Canyons of the West (And a Few Odds and Ends)”

Your Body Wash Is Getting Banned, And That’s a Good Thing


A process allegedly good for your body, in which dead skin is cleared away, leaving only new skin cells to make your face healthier and fresher. But how is exfoliation achieved? Many products use microbeads, tiny plastic beads that create small amounts of friction against the skin to cause exfoliation. But exfoliating products aren’t the only ones with microbeads; you can find these tiny pieces of plastic in shampoo, body wash, and even toothpaste. Continue reading “Your Body Wash Is Getting Banned, And That’s a Good Thing”

Montana Pioneers: Miners, Spruce Trees, and My Father

Last week, my dad, sister, and I visited our cabin in southwest Montana. It was my first time at the cabin in six years, but it felt just the same: peaceful and quiet, and like time was standing still. Our cabin is super rustic – we call it “glamping”, glamorous camping – and we like it that way. Getting up our driveway alone requires half an hour and a four-wheel-drive, and the cabin itself is completely off the grid. There’s no electricity, no running water, and a composting toilet that we affectionately call “The Throne”. The only sounds you can hear from our little corner of the wilderness are the birds chirping, bees buzzing, and an occasional mooing cow in the distance.  Continue reading “Montana Pioneers: Miners, Spruce Trees, and My Father”

I’m Jealous of the Jellyfish: Four Hours in Monterey

Last weekend, I drove down to Monterey with a group of Stanford students for a few hours. It’s only a two-hour drive from campus, so it was a nice mini-vacation by the ocean. The first thing we did was visit the Hopkins Marine Station, which is owned and operated by Stanford University. Hopkins was opened in 1892 as a “seaside laboratory”, and conducts ocean research and offers classes in marine biology, fisheries management, and biostatistics. Continue reading “I’m Jealous of the Jellyfish: Four Hours in Monterey”

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