Building Community Online

I’m part of several online writing groups, and in one of them the moderator checks in daily with a neat picture and the question: how did your writing life go today? This particular moderator, let’s call her Kathy, posted these daily check-ins for quite a while until she had a relapse of a chronic illness and couldn’t do it anymore. An example of one of the check-in photos (by Ken Chandler). I had been responding…

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COVID Music

Yesterday a friend shared this beautiful piece of music. It’s a quintet for cello by Samuel Barber, entitled “Adagio for Strings.” In this version, it’s played by 278 cellists from 29 countries via Zoom. In the last movement, each player shares an image in memory of someone they’ve lost. This is timely given the installation art on the lawn facing the White House, where COVID survivors have set up over 20,000 empty chairs to represent…

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Studying a species you’re not sure exists

This week on the blog, we are happy to have Charlotte Hacker, a PhD student at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, who shares her adventures of studying the elusive snow leopard on the Tibetan Plateau of China. For more information about Charlotte, check out her bio at the end of the post! I have a confession to make… But first, some background. I’m a noninvasive conservation geneticist using DNA extracted from snow leopard scat to answer…

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Amber: Big Info From the Smallest Fossils

Many of us are familiar with amber thanks to, of course, Jurassic Park. It’s often thought of as that yellowish, cloudy rock made of fossilized tree sap often containing prehistoric insects with the potential to bear the incredible resource of preserved dinosaur DNA. However, as with most things dealing with palaeontology in pop culture, the truth is different than what you see on this screen. Amber is a real thing, yes, and it does originate…

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