About

Some days, I think I am a field ecologist who is a professional freelance writer on the side. Other days, I feel like a writer that makes a living as an ecologist.

From 1992 until my early retirement 2018, I ran a bird observatory at a Midwestern university. My research still focuses on urban ecology, especially as it pertains to birds. My husband and I have done substantial work on the distribution of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) and the use of these insects as bioindicators, especially in urban systems; we write about this work at our Urban Dragon Hunters blog.

I’m extremely interested migratory bird use of shade coffee farms worldwide, but especially in Central America. I’m also a coffee geek. These two passions intersect in surprising ways. More information on the connection between coffee and biodiversity can be found at my website, Coffee & Conservation.

For over 20 years, I’ve been a Contributing Editor to BirdWatching Magazine.

And let me be explicit — all the material here is mine and of me, and does not reflect the policies, opinions, positions, or philosophies of past or current employers.

I’m a lifelong resident of southeast Michigan. I have an excellent spouse, and we share our home with two great and strictly indoor cats and a very old but faithful miniature macaw.

What is bootstrap analysis?

This blog is large parts natural history and aspects of my field work, healthy doses of my opinions on current science and environmental issues, some personal items including the obligatory cat blogging, and a little bit of crazy stuff to indulge my weird sense of humor.

What’s with the name?

In the real world, “bootstrap analysis” is a statistical method used to evaluate the reliability of datasets by replication. In biology in general, bootstrapping has evolutionary connotations. For instance, Wikipedia notes: “The evolution of progressively better adapted organs through natural selection in a lineage of organisms is another [example of bootstrapping].”

Originally, the term came from a German legend of a man who pulled himself from the sea by his bootstraps. All of these concepts — testing reality by repeated experiences; the evolution of ideas through regular writings; and working to move forward at times by sheer force of will — are behind this blog.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries,
is not “Eureka!” but “Hmm, that’s funny...” ~Isaac Asimov