You are here

Vignettes

BioLine Vignettes

Breaking the Ice by Plunging Into a Puddle

How I learned to embrace embarrassment in science

Flies buzzed around my sweaty face as I pushed a patch of especially tall grassy sedges out of my way. It was a hot summer day and I stood in the middle of a wetland on Leech Lake in a long-sleeved shirt and chest-high waders. Thick clumps of roots and deceptively deep puddles added extra effort to every step. After an hour in the meadow, I was tired like I’d run miles.

I was having a great time. Sort of.

The flies are alright

Taking care of insects in the pursuit of science

It’s always warm in the fly room. The frequent clicking and spraying of the humidifier makes the air warm and thick, imbued with the unmistakable sticky smell of fly food. For those of us working here, it is an escape from the blustering Minnesota winter even if we have to shed all those layers to get comfortable.  Comfort is essential because you need to be on your toes when taking care of so many lives. 

Life as we know it, and as we don’t

Age-old existential questions such as “how did we get here?” and “are we alone?” bridge the gap between science and philosophy. Scientists who study astrobiology -- the study of the story of life past, present, and future in the Universe -- seek to answer these questions.

The field of astrobiology is as big as the Universe itself; it encompasses many disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology, and planetary science, to name a few.