Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wishlist :)

Welcome to commercial America-- All the christmas ads have got me thinking of some of the things on MY wishlist.  Who knows, maybe some fabulous friend or family member will make a little magic for me.  :)  So here it is:

Seeds :) I'm starting a collection

I ALWAYS Need Socks! Especially wool hiking socks!

Hiking Boots from KEEN

For summer hikes, canoe rides, kayaking, beach/island visits :) 

I really need a futon.

Back to work.

End of another semester, and it's been a busy one!

ONE statistics class, 
        TWO ESA conferences (ecology and entomolgy),
                THREE research papers in the works! 

(see what I did there?)  

As if research and my statistics coursework weren't enough, I've been kept busy with work as (1) a tutor (2) a Structured Learning Assistant and (3) a Success Coach (think academic advisor, peer mentor, and motivational speaker wrapped up into one job).

In the next 5 months I'll be analyzing data, writing (hopefully publishing), and (again, hopefully) graduating with my Master's in Environmental Science. When I'm done with that, I'll get my doctorate, somehow, but I'll worry about that later.

Back to work.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


The past week I’ve had the opportunity to listen to seminars, workshops, and symposia, speak and network with top researchers in my field, and learn new strategies, theories, and discoveries in entomology. I’ve been in Reno, Nevada at the 2011 Entomological Society of America’s Annual meeting.

I presented a poster on my research (parasitoid wasp diversity in urban agro-ecosystems) and received incredibly insightful and constructive feedback on my work. I am actively looking for doctorate programs, and ESA was an incredibly valuable opportunity to speak with several potential advisors as well as students from their labs. This first impression will really help down the line (in the next few weeks) when I choose which schools/labs to apply to.

Among the conversations I had, several were on the different opportunities available to those who hold a phD in entomology and ecology. Understanding how state and private university assignments differ, the opportunities available in industry, and the ongoing and ever changing systems of sharing the knowledge gained by research has really helped to develop my own understanding of the field of entomology, and how it can relate to EVERY OTHER SCIENTIFIC FIELD.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Doc says I've got to reduce my stress, so I did some research. Stress can kill brain cells, add fat, unravel chromosomes, shorten telomeres (increase aging), cause low IQ and mental disabilities in offspring (yes offspring, this is SCIENCE)(when fetus is exposed to high stress levels), and shuts down nonessential body systems (digestion, immune). Top ways to reduce stress? Social interaction, especially connecting with and helping others. (Check) Taking on leadership roles. (Check) Taking action and producing change. (Check) SO. I've formulated the Better World Hypothesis: Work towards creating a better world, help others, take action, be creative, and TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE. Stress will be reduced. Health will be better. Awesomeness will be at maximum. If everyone does this: World Peace. As long as we can all reach a consensus. (Studies on Baboon societies prove this -- I think it could work for our species too.) I'm a scientist. I can handle this.

Side note for Occupy crew: In baboons it took six months to reach a consensus with the rest of society, hang in there!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Connecting People with Decision Makers

It seems to me that one of the biggest issues today is finding ways to connect decision makers with citizens.  While citizens should take personal responsibility for maintaining their knowledge of and taking action on today's issues, the great majority do not.  This standard of ignorance has begun to shift, one example being the Occupy Wall Street protests and the anti-occupy groups that represent the opposing opinions.  This shift, from a largely apathetic nation to one with increasing public awareness, brings forth a question:  Who is responsible for the continued education of the nation?  Yes, the responsible citizen seeks out an unbiased source of knowledge and will make decisions based on their own opinions.  But precious few seem to take the time to do this.  Americans want easy answers to difficult questions, this is due in part to our evolution into a low context culture.

Is it then, the responsibility of government to present the information?  If so, how can that information be presented in a way that is cost-effective, simple to manage, and easy to access?

There are several issues linked to this problem, the country's failing school systems, for example. If students graduating high school can barely read, how can they process and understand the importance of complex issues?  How many will vote based on advertising alone?  How many will not vote at all?

I don't have all the answers, and I know that there will always be the apathetic, I only hope that it will become an apathetic few.  Fixing the school system, enforcing transparency in government, eliminating corruption, and finding the dynamic, intelligent, and honest few who have the ambition and vision to lead this country is a difficult task.  Keeping those decision makers connected to the people is even more difficult.  Social networking and other technologies are the future of communication.  Design must meet government, and find a way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

13 Things

I am:

1.  Starting an environmental education outreach program with a student group on campus.
2. Volunteering twice a week as a "Conversation Partner" in an English as a second language assistance program.
3. Working 20 (really closer to 25) hours a week as a tutor, structured learning assistant, and success coach.
4. Going to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History twice a week to database my 2010 insect collection.
5. Statistics class.
6. Learning how to run.  Slowly.
7. Being an awesome dog-mom.
8. Reading two papers a week on parasitoid wasps, urban ecology, urban entomology, and/or other cool science.
9.  Getting materials together for my doctorate program applications (eep)
10. Getting materials (DATA) together for the Entomological Society of America conference in Reno, NV, November 13-17.
11. Figuring out football and trying (really) to be interested.
12. Reading my new American Entomologist.
13. Trying to not lose my mind.


Saturday, September 24, 2011


In the past month much much much has happened.

1. New Apartment
2. New Car (Named Gloria)
3. New Dog (Named Zoey)
4. Reunited with Charlie (the cat)
5. New Courses! (Statistics, eep!)
6. New plan (more on this later!)
7. New club + outreach program! (woo!)

Upcoming events:
November: Entomology meeting!
December 1st: Applications due for PhD programs (eep)

SO MUCH TO DO! (So little time.)

Urban Planning in a Low Context Culture

I was at a conference recently where discussion was made on urban planning.  One of the primary issues was that citizens wanted immediate action to be taken, with little patience for long term planning.

America is the perfect example of a low context culture.  In all our interactions we want answers, action, and we want it NOW.  The majority of the world exists in high context cultures, where, for example, when asking someone to do you a favor, you first ask how they are, how their family is, and engage in a polite back and forth before delving into the real conversation.  This cultural component is seen in America's love of fast food, good service, and in part the widespread success of social networking websites.

When it comes to citizen participation and influence upon urban planning this low context culture comes through as either drive and determination, or as impatience.  Those who can see the big picture can understand the need for long term planning, and take pleasure in the small goals accomplished along the way.  Those who lack this long-term vision, who want immediate action, are seen as impatient, and perhaps end up feeling as though their input will not influence the planning because the "long term solution" has already been decided.

It is critical, however, to see the potential such individuals can have on a project.  In a long term greening of a city, for example, these are the people who will put in the urban gardens, plant trees, and clean up parks/streams/beaches.

So then, How can urban planners plan for long-term improvement and meet social requirements of a low-context culture?

It's simple really.  Listen to what people are asking for, and give them the tools and connections they need to take action themselves.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ESA 2011 Austin TX

August 12, 2011
ESA 2011 Austin TX

Summer is just about over, which means field season is coming to a close.  I’ve had an incredible team of students working with me, and without them I would never have been able to accomplish the sampling I’ve already done. 

I’m just getting back from last week’s ESA conference—an incredible opportunity for me to get an idea of the other ecology research currently going on.  The trip has helped me to realize my own goals-- I’ve always kept the idea of getting my doctorate as a possibility, if anything this trip has confirmed my own hopes.  Finally, a group of people who speak my language!  I felt more at home at the conference than I’ve felt anywhere else.  Being surrounded by people who understand and share some of my own hopes for the world is incredibly inspiring.  I have so many ideas and hopes now, and am truly looking forward to the next few years, whatever they may bring.

At ESA I presented an update to my research on parasitoid wasps in urban habitats.  I’ll admit, part of me hopes that I’ll get an email from ESA informing me I won an award for best poster (it WAS pretty damn good, after all) but I’ll be really surprised if anything like that happens.   

 The main conclusion was that, as seen in my beat net analysis, abundance of wasps is higher on vacant urban lots than on urban gardens, with some interesting details arising at the family level.  I’m still working on breaking the 17 families I collected down into morpho-species, and hope to be finished with that by November, in time to present the results at the entomology meeting in Reno!

In the next year I intend to : 

NOW:  Start an educational outreach program for the communities my research plots are, and leave the framework for a student organization behind, with funding for the future, when I graduate.
September: start writing bird/vegetation paper
November: 2010 morphospecies analysis complete, attend Entomology conference in Reno,
December: bird/vegetation paper published, start writing 2010 wasp paper (4.0 for semester)
January: 2011 mophospecies analysis complete
February: Start writing 2011 wasp paper
March: Write Thesis
April: Practice and defend Thesis
May:  Publish 2011 wasp paper?
June:  My sister’s wedding!  Possible Trip
August 2012: attend Portland ESA**

**I’m not sure what the best timeline for this is.  If I want to start a doctorate program right away, fall 2012, then I’ll need to have my applications in by December 2011—but I’d like to have a few publications out before my applications go in.  But when do I graduate and how will I get to Portland?  I’ll have to talk to my advisor in more detail about this.  

Maybe I'll take some time and work somewhere for a year or so.  A break would be nice. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Field Season 2011

Field Season is upon us!  Well, upon me, and my team.  (I have a TEAM!)  So much is going on!

For this final round of insect collecting I'm looking at 50  (up from just 16 last year) different sites, some vacant lots, several different types of gardens, and sites in various Metroparks surrounding Cleveland.  I'm laying out 10 yellow pan traps, like last year, but oh, there's more.  I'll be putting blue and white pan traps out in addition to the yellow.  Blue traps attract more bees, white traps attract more flies, and yellow traps attract more wasps.

My TEAM consists of a group of undergraduate/post-baccalaureate/graduate students, and a few volunteers that aren't currently in school, and who have very little science experience.  Among the team we have two "plant people", one "bird person", three "bug people", one "map/rocks person", and several students that haven't found their focus.

We'll be doing insect collections next week, bird surveys in two weeks, and vegetation surveys and pitfall traps in three weeks.  (Holy data, batman!)

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

5 Happy Things

1. School Bus Yellow Bowls.

All the better for catching flying insects, my dear.

2. Dr. Who

Guilty Pleasure!

3. Mom-made Ham and White Bean Soup for lunch

4. Adele.

5. Rottweiler Puppies.  I want one.  No, two.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another Semester Finished

After toiling under the weight of my books for another 16 weeks, I've finished another semester of my graduate studies.  This semester was a heavier course load.  Happy to be finished.

The summer brings a whole new animal:  Klaire Catches Bugs Round II

I'm expanding the number of sites I'll collect at, from 16 to 60. (!) To manage this I'm cutting back on how often I sample-- and will collect only early summer and late summer sample periods, one week long for each.  

Next (Fall) semester I am taking a statistics class, and focusing on research.  

Looking like a good summer already!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

It seems so very sad that we only have ONE day of the year to celebrate the Earth.  
Do something good for the Earth today, and every day after!  


Don't know how to get started? Click here!

Friday, April 8, 2011


I am young, still.

At times I feel old, as if I have lived long enough to know all, as if I carry wisdom in the dust on my feet.

I am a fool.

I know some things of the world.  I have so much more to see, to learn.  I must remember that knowledge is not understanding, experience is not wisdom.  I have only just opened my eyes to the world, my life thus far only a glimpse -- and blurred as in the first moments of waking.  I have learned that the world will not hand over its secrets to me calmly.  I must fight, clawing my way against the surge of those who bet against me.  Sometimes it is only a battle to stay afloat, in other moments I seem to speed ahead, leaping and diving forward into life head first.

Sometimes I find myself sinking.

Yet, I have been blessed enough to be loved.  Those who love me have come and pulled me back towards the surface countless times.  I must remind myself to remain calm, so I do not drown them in my panic, or force them to let me go.  This lesson has been hard to learn, and certainly not one I have mastered.

One thing I have learned:
Trust is such a delicate creature.  In one foolish, panicked moment it be shattered, crushed, suffocated -- and it cannot be resurrected, there is no 'breath of life' or miracle technology that can heal those wounds.  If you are lucky, bits of trust might be found buried in love (as love cannot die, only languish), and from those remnants you can begin to rebuild.

I only hope that as I discover the world, I become less a fool, stepping carefully and remaining calm, so that I can pull those who are sinking up with me.

Maybe, some day, we'll fly.

Research Update 4.8.2011

MEEC Poster
MEEC was pretty awesome!  I probably could have done an oral presentation instead of a poster.  Since I'm doing a poster for the ESA conference it was good practice.  Especially in designing the poster.  I started out trying to use PowerPoint "smart art" to beautify the poster : NOT A GOOD IDEA! Smart art is more of a headache than its worth for posters.  I met some pretty awesome people, heard some interesting talks, thought extensively about what I want to do for my doctorate, and ate some AMAZING food.  Overall it was a successful conference! It wasn't as formal as I expected (hoped?) it would be, and it was REALLY small (only about 120 people total) compared to what the ESA will have (try closer to 1200? 3000? Not quite sure?)

I'm meeting with my advisor and a crew of important people associated with the project today to plan the next round of research.  We're essentially going to increase the number of sites we sample at, but limit to two weeks of collection, one early summer and one late summer.  Should be interesting!

I have four more vials to point and then the pointing will be finished!  So the Summer 2010 samples will then be identified to morphospecies (with help from Tom at CMNH) and quantified.  I'm pretty excited for that.

So much to do!

Classes are going well! GIS is harder than I thought it would be, so much to remember!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Incredible Students

One of my students has applied for a scholarship.  Please vote for her HERE.

The prompt:   Who has been most important tutor, teacher or coach in my life and why?

This is her essay:

I just started my education at Cleveland State University in the fall of 2010. I believe the tutoring program (TASC) at Cleveland State is a very successful program in which students (mostly graduate students) help undergraduates with their classes. I have been very successful with my tutor, Klaire, for my fall and spring semesters. In my fall semester Klaire helped me with study skills and learning how to deal with a teacher that has a thick accent for my Anatomy and Physiology class. Klaire has also been very great to me. Other than a tutor, Klaire is a friend, and a peer mentor to me. She is always keeping me in a great mood and wanting to study. In my spring semester, Klaire is helping me out with two classes which include Anatomy & Physiology 2 and Microbiology. Two sciences are very hard and if there was not anyone to reinforce how much i needed to do to accomplish my goals i would be struggling. Klaire has taught me many things about college. She has taught me how to study, manage my time, have fun, make friends, and deal with roommates. I look up to Klaire so much. She has a great personality which is caring, humorous, and energetic. Klaire also is very determined, strong willed, successful and awesome. I know I could sit here and write more about Klaire and how she has affected my life, but I would just stress how spectacular she is. Klaire has made my college experience much better, and I will take everything she has taught me about time management, team work, personalities, roommates, and goals with me for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


April 1-4 I'm going to the 2011 Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  That's MEEC 2011 at SIUC.  I'm presenting a poster -- a decision that was made only two weeks ago, giving me a total of six weeks to get funding, itinerary, data, and poster organized.

Thus far:  I've applied for a travel funds scholarship from CSU's College of Science, I've submitted my abstract and registered, booked the flights, reserved a hotel room (ok, its a Bed and Breakfast-- my Papa insisted on that), and have started working on the poster (and data).

I'm going to present the same poster at CSU's College of Science Research Day, on April 15th.Spring break is next week.  I'll be at school, in the lab, making my poster and pointing the pan trap samples.  Although I might take a day off in the middle of the week to go on a hike.  Busy.

Classes are going well.  I got a B on my first evolution exam, which I'm not happy about, but now I know EXACTLY what to expect for the next exam.  The engineering class I was worried about turned out to  be a piece of cake. (Thank you, physics minor.)  I just had the first engineering exam yesterday, pretty sure I aced it.  4.0 here we come.

I'm also:
1.  Planning my second round of sampling
2.  Working to get through pan trap samples for the August ESA Meeting
3.  Trying to decide if I should hike the Appalachian Trail with two of my best friends after I graduate.

Life is good.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Committee Meeting, Research Update, Life


1. Moved back home. My family is incredible.
2. Had committee meeting: proposal and academic plan approved (sure, a bit late, but my project is great), my general awesomeness affirmed.
3.Research:  I, with the help of the super-awesome Sarah, have completed sorting and IDing the Beat Net samples.  All 13340 individuals.  I'm looking through the vegetation height complexity data, pointing the pan trap samples and planning a second round of sampling, as field season is fast approaching.
4. Coursework:  Oh yeah, I'm also taking 11 credit hours of coursework, with classes in environmental engineering, GIS, and aquatic ecosystems.  I'm doing ok with these, but it's a delicate balancing act.

Pointed Hymenopterans

Monday, February 21, 2011

First Hike 2011

snow pushed across a frozen lake,
like sand across a desert,
bright white light blinds,
wind sends shivers down our spines,
and still we trek across this crystallized world,

all for the love of science.

set out to crack the ice,
used an ekman dredge device
and pulled up some cold macrophytes.

analyze samples and we may find,
with carbon dating, keep in mind,
this sediment may be quite senescent,
its history likely reminiscent
of slowly melting glaciers.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Research Update: 01.31.2011

The research is going well.  I'm pointing wasps like a mad scientist.  I'm getting my committee stuff together.  I'm planning on going to the Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference (MEEC) in April and the ESA (Ecological Society of America) Conference in August.  I'm not presenting anything at MEEC, it's an observational trip.

My good friend Sarah has been helping with the beat net samples, she's got three left to go.  Everything is sorted to order, and counted.  We've got some interesting results (if just a preliminary glimpse of the future.)  Soon I'll teach her how to point so she can help  me with the pan trap samples.  Once the wasps from the pan trap samples are pinned and  pointed it will be identified, to morphospecies, and counted.  Hopefully we'll get some interesting results.

There has been some discussion of additional sampling--to be decided on at the committee meeting, hopefully.

I'm planning on getting my GIS certification -- should help me get a job if I decide to go that route.

It's looking like graduation will be in May 2011 (not December.)  If everything goes according to plan.

I need a car.

Monday, January 24, 2011

finding elegance: micro

an entire world
             and grows
                   and fights without conciousness,
 each moment,
         each motion a response to instinct,
                                                     programming alone

eat. grow. divide.
eat. grow. divide.

where competition abounds, with enemies swarming all around
                                            and change a constant, chaotic force.

survive. survive. survive. 
survive. survive. survive. 

where in mere days,
                      sometimes hours,
one species becomes two, and so on.

eat. grow. divide.
eat. grow. divide.

where chemistry reigns supreme,
          and physics underlies all forms,
                            in motion, structure,
                                                 sometime random and spasmotic,
                                                 often smooth and elegant.

all contained in a drop of pond water.


Sometimes my days are full of studying, figures, memorization and I forget to look for the beauty in everything.  Sometimes the beauty comes screaming from the pages of my textbook and I sit up and gaze around in wonder at this world.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Growing Up Freeman: Summer

I recall lazy summer afternoons lying in the grass, watching the sky change from blue to pink to a darker blue and waiting for the lightning bugs to come out. Sometimes, just as it was getting to be time for bed a summer thunderstorm would roll in over the horizon and we would sit, the five of us, on the front porch and watch it coming. Counting the seconds between the loud thunderclap and the distant flash of lightning, calm and happy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tumultuous Tuesday: Relations 101

Relationships are hard.

There's been so much anxiety around the idea of me moving back home.  I don't want to upset things.  I don't want to ruin the relationships I have with my family.  Things are better now than they have ever been.  It's tempting to just find my own place, keep things the way they are with my family and continue burying myself in debt.

Instead of doing that, I'm going to do it the hard way.  I'm going to suck up my pride, ask for help, and try to make it work.

My parents don't really understand how important it is for me to get my doctorate degree.  My dad thinks that a job should just be something you do to earn as much money as possible with the least effort, so that you can afford to do the things you LIKE to do.  Maybe its sophomoric of me, but I don't see it that way.

My brother is an extraordinarily talented musician.  He plays his guitar, sings, and writes music as a way of life.  Its as if music, to him, is air.  When he's not making music he might as well stop breathing.

This, my parents do understand.  Maybe its easier.  They support him entirely -- emotionally and in many ways financially, because they understand my brother's relationship with music.

Now, I'm the same way about ecology.  I see it everywhere I go.  Every choice I make has some link to ecology, every time it rains in the city I start thinking water quality, every time I eat out I wonder where my food came from -- I live, breathe, and sleep SCIENCE.

But I guess that's harder to understand for some people.

Now, I have two options.

One. Go straight to a doctorate program and start working on what will become my life's work.


Two. Instead of jumping straight into a doctorate program I'll take some time off, work, pay off some of my massive debt.  Who knows, maybe I'll find the job of my dreams. . .  or at least something that I don't hate with every fiber of my being.  That's more likely.  Get a job, pay the bills, re-stabilize life, and then, once things are settled a bit, think about going back to school.

Such tough decisions.

Hopefully things will work out.

Dad also says - if you want to make God laugh, show him your plans.

But I don't really believe in God.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Growing Up Freeman: Beginnings

I am the daughter of a lawyer and a teacher. If anything, that's where I can begin.

Daddy grew up somewhere between his father's deep baptist Tennessee farmland and his mother's inner city Cleveland, Ohio. His life, from what bits I've come by, was never easy. Mama was from Cleveland too-- the eleventh child of a poor Catholic family that had their beliefs, if nothing else. Her family lived in the apartment above her Grandfather's grocery store.

They first met in Cleveland. She was eight, he was nine, and he had sic'd his dog on her. Later on they shared the same circle of friends, and though I'm not sure the version I've heard is entirely true, they ended up together in the end regardless.

I came along as the first lovechild of theirs, added to their shared brood of one son and one daughter. I was the law school baby. And when I came on a sunny June day they took me home, set me on the picnic table in the back yard and wondered what to do next. While they were pondering away, I had plans brewing. By the time I was one year old I had earned myself a reputation-- I would only sleep outside in the cool night air and I would eat anything I could get my hands on.
A year later I was joined by my younger sister, Krista. I let her know who was boss the very first day, sinking my three or four new teeth into her newborn arm. The competition has never ended. Kyle arrived, after much anticipation, in the fourth year of my life. They are now the most important people in my life.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tumultuous Tuesday: Responsibility 101

Hello, world.  

I've lived independently now for two years.  Sure, I'm broke, stressed, and exhausted all the time, I don't have a car, so I walk or bus everywhere, I eat Ramen Noodles WAY too often because I can't really afford to eat anything else;  But it's worth it, right?

I've learned a few things along the way, of course, time management, money management, vast appreciation for friends and family -- and I'm grateful for all those things.  

But here's the thing:  I need and WANT a car.  I want to finish my master's degree and hope to complete a doctorate program out of state, eventually.   

I can't afford a car, or parking at my apartment building, or meat for that matter.  

Why?  A few reasons.  I'm paying rent through the nose so I can live close to school/work.  (I'm on campus pretty much 16 hours a day.)   But mostly I'm paying of the disastrously poor decision making fiasco of (and following) Australia 2008 -- which, while fantastically fun, was a stupid, stupid thing to do, and resulted in the maxing out of several (that's right, SEVERAL) credit cards.  

I've grown up a good bit.  

But -- if I'm going to accomplish my goals in a reasonable time, I could use a little help.  

That's right folks.  

I'm moving back home with my parents

AND my sister, 
AND my brother.  

My family is kind of incredible, and I'm extraordinarily lucky to have them.  

It'll be a hell of a ride. 

The MOVE will happen sometime before February 28th. 

Anyway, Tuesdays will now feature "Tumultuous Tuesday":  The process of moving back in, and later life with my parents.  

Future posts will detail: (1) future goals (2) any anticipated issues I'll need to get over (3) packing (4) the move (5) life with the 'Rents.  

I'm also going to be writing about what it was to grow up in this incredible, fantastic, family.  Probably on Wednesdays. 

We''ll see how that goes.