Turning Field Work into Field Play

As anyone who has spent a lot of time working outside knows, field work is long and hard. I’ve been on my fair share of research trips as an observational geologist working in the tropics and learned first-hand that field work is basically made from these ingredients: stressful planning, packing hassles, long flights, inevitable food…

Making My Way From Mountains To Mud: Part 1

How did I make my way from mountains to mud? Well, I had just graduated high school and was celebrating my last summer before starting college by taking a cross-country road trip with my older sister. We were both young and poor and adventurous. As such, our days consisted of long hours behind the wheel,…

How to Renourish a Beach with a Forgotten Past: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

A lot of beaches are eroding, basically washing away, because they aren’t getting enough natural sediment to replenish themselves. One reason for this is that we have built hard structures along beaches (like jetties, ports, harbors, and factories) that block sand from being naturally pushed along by waves; sand gets stuck behind these structures and…

Coastal Wetlands vs. Climate Change – How We (and Sand) Can Decide the Victor

Coastal wetlands, like this tidal marsh, are not only beautiful, they are also home to diverse ecosystems and act as protective buffers between coastal communities and the sometimes stormy and destructive ocean. Worryingly, sea-level rise and bigger storms threaten to flood and erode these vital environments as climate change worsens. One method that has been…

A Mud Doctor and Her X-Rays

I joke a lot about training to be a mud doctor because I study muddy sediment in my PhD research. But that comparison isn’t just a play on words. Just like a “real” doctor takes x-rays to diagnose you and bandages you up to keep your innards from falling out, I collect mud samples, bandage…