My Research: Restoring the natural water cycle in cities

As I mentioned in my About Me page, I am a doctoral student at Iowa State University. I study urban hydrology, green infrastructure, and geographical information systems, also known as GIS. In this post, I go into a bit more detail about what I actually study, and how I conduct my research. I will go into more detail on many of the topics I talk about here later in expanded topic posts, but for now, here’s a little about my research!


In short, I study the effects of urbanization on the environment, specifically on the natural hydrologic cycle. Now, that’s a very big topic. (Literally, the hydrologic cycle is global. Ha!) Narrowing that huge topic down, I specifically study stormwater in urban residential areas and the things that homeowners (or renters!) can do to help restore a more natural, and sustainable hydrologic cycle. Continue reading

Falling off the wagon… The academic calendar to the rescue!

I fell off the wagon a bit there at the end of the last semester…

Rocky Mountain National Park

I had one big post about Blogging for Productivity at the end of February, and then the end of semester crunch hit. With a few lasts gasps (hey there, Henrietta and hey look! Snow!) I slowly gave up on some of my internally enforced deadlines (case in point—my blog).

SciNatura is really important to me. However, at this point in SciNatura’s existence, I am accountable to no one but myself to post new material. I don’t pretended to have a following eagerly awaiting my next post. I’m still building and defining my blog. With only internally enforced deadlines for blog posts, when everything else on my plate started becoming more and more time consuming, with more and more pressing deadlines, SciNatura got kicked down the road…

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HeLa-The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This is the first post in my “What I’m Reading–Personal Reads” series. Stereotypical, I always feel like I don’t have enough time to read, but I try to carve out personal reading time whenever I can. It’s hard sometimes, especially after I’ve spent a whole day reading journal articles and books for research. That makes it hard to feel up to reading in my free time in the evenings. But reading is important to me, both for how much I really do enjoy it, and for how much one can learn from reading. I read both fiction and nonfiction, and print books and audio-books (I’m not a huge fan of e-books though, I already spend too much time looking at screens., e-ink or not…).

And so, without further ado, my first “What I’m Reading” post!

HeLa cells are a wonder of nature. These human cells are immortal. They continuously reproduce, indefinitely, under laboratory conditions.

HeLa cells have done marvelous things for humanity, from helping to discover the polio vaccine, to aiding in cancer research. HeLa cells have been cloned, irradiated, and sent into space. Over 60,000 articles have been published about HeLa.

You can even purchase your own vial of HeLa easily, and fairly inexpensively, online.

HeLa isn’t a new story. It’s been around since the cells were first harvested and grown in the 1950’s. Scientists around the world have learned about, and been using HeLa, for decades.

The real story, the jaw-dropping, nauseating true side of the story, is that HeLa cells were once Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman born in 1920 whose cells were taken by a doctor and used in medical research…

…without her knowledge or consent.

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The Watershed in Winter! Teaching Outdoors

Snow Lab!

Welcome to our ‘Watershed in Winter’ lab, it’s a lot of fun! One of the most beloved labs in our department, in this lab students explore the winter landscape, looking at how snow falls on landscape, and conducting some simple calculations to estimate water inputs to the watershed.


The watershed in winter, down by a stream.

Heading out on a beautiful sunny day, our class trekked into the local woods once again to explore ‘the watershed in winter’.

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SciNatura in Action! Blogging for Productivity

Last week  I wrote a post about SoTL, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Check it out). How that post came about is a perfect example of why I wanted to start a blog–personal motivation and accountability. I started that blog post about a week before I actually published it and for that week it kind of just languished in my drafts bin. I knew I should finish it, but I had so much else to do. It’s an important topic, and one that I really am excited about, but last week was unusually brutal in commitments and shear workload. The kind of week where, as they say, a lot of things get kicked down the road.

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