I study the naming of things. Names let people talk to each other about everything. Names make order. I study names and relationships in a family of green things that is not a rose that lives outside and eats sun light and water and throws away air. They live only on one side of the world. Some live for many years and some for less than one year. The family has groups and some groups have many numbers and other groups don’t have very many numbers. Why do some groups have more numbers than others? What makes them better at numbers? How long did it take to make more numbers? Did new numbers happen fast or slow? Or because it got hot and dry outside? People call the groups and the numbers different names because they look different, or because they live in different places, or because of different tiny cell things that can’t be easily seen. I study the things that are the same and things that are different in this family. I try to understand how to group the things together, how to recognize them easily outside, and how to tell the story of the relationship of the family through time, and to name them.
Thanks to Jane Van Susteren for challenging me to try this.
Annetta Carter is amazing on every level.
And she could have easily been the Superman to Amelia Earhart’s Clark Kent. Because Earhart wore the flight goggles, see? The photo on the left is Annetta Carter on a Calypso Club trip in 1932 [California Botanical Society]. The photo on the right is Amelia Earhart also in 1932 [CAVM 4105]. Uncanny resemblance, no? This is the iconic photograph of Annetta Carter – in the field on Mount Tamalpais with packed satchels on the car’s running boards. Phenotype – field competence. That great sweater, the hair, the slight smile hinting at an expert’s knowledge of cloning?
I really want to know what that sweater and those pants are. Brand, style, pattern, fabric, cost. Ah, more research.
CARTER, A. 1949. Three Women Without Fear: How Three Botanists Drove 4200 Miles in Baja Califomia. Calif. Monthly 59:30.
Stein’s book is a fantastic read, but my favorite chapter title is ‘Baja California – Tres Mujeres sin miedo‘ from STEIN, B. R. 2001. On her own terms: Annie Montague Alexander and the rise of science in the American West, University of California Press.
HOLLEUFFER, C., ed. 1987. Annetta Carter, “UC Herbarium Botanist, Collector and Interpreter of Baja California Plants”, an oral history conducted 1985 by Carol Holleuffer. Berkeley: Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley.
I read a lot of biographies of women botanists in California and just reread the transcripts of the oral histories from the Bancroft, again. I keep referring back to the archival images of these epic scientists and wondering how. There are these specific details in my head that keep bouncing around – Alice Eastwood’s flower hats, Ella Dales Cantelow’s boots, Annetta Carter’s sweater. I keep circling back to this question of how fashion can structure opportunity in the field and lab. Botany uniforms. I am trying to imagine what being a woman botanist would have been like at different time periods in California. If I can’t understand how, personally, practically, logistically, plants were collected and studied in California in 1913 how can I expect my collections for 2013 to be comparable? I feel like I am leaping over a giant gap on the basic scientific method on how to collect plants, which hasn’t been uniform across time [see any field note book, ever]. Are species concepts the same across time for a given landscape with dramatic historical shifts and changes in protocol?
So to think about this I have been playing around with paper dolls. I am fascinated by Alice Eastwood’s bustle dress. How did Alice Eastwood carry her plant press tied up inside of her bustle? And ride a horse with this ensemble? I am guessing that the plant press was small field size – but specifically what size, before or after the Brandegee standardized herbarium sheet, and made out of what? What is the actual weight of an empty versus a full plant press? How did this work attached inside of a functional hiking and riding dress? And she also hiked ahead of the menfolk to cook dinner, and then stayed behind to clean up? Were her boots made of magical leather – and did she wash her socks every evening? What was her budget for clothes? How did access on foot, and by train, and then car change botany and the experience of women botanists in California? How did new technologies, innovations, and socio-economic expectations impact women botanists, and what are the effects on specimen collections?
The images are taken from the CAS Alice Eastwood archives, CalPhotos or Petersen’s magazine, all badly adobe’d. I want to have a full suite of outfits, with accessories [including plants described by botanists]. I know it is a weird idea but it is how I am starting to think about this. Also WILSON, C. G. 1955. Alice Eastwood’s wonderland; the adventures of a botanist. San Francisco, California Academy of Sciences.
DAVIS, W. 1997. One river: explorations and discoveries in the Amazon rain forest. New York, Simon & Schuster.
KUHN, T. S. 1970. The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
LATOUR, B., and S. WOOLGAR. 1979. Laboratory life: the social construction of scientific facts. Beverly Hills, Sage Publications.
PIRSIG, R. M. 1974. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance: an inquiry into values. New York, Morrow.
WOOD, D. 1973. I don’t want to, but I will (IDWTBIW). The genesis of geographic knowledge: a real-time developmental study of adolescent images of novel environments. Dissertation, Cartography, Clark University, Worcester, Mass. http://www.deniswood.net/lp_idwtbiw.htm
Dark Matter, 2008.
Burden of dreams, 1982. Criterion Collection [http://www.criterion.com/films/546-burden-of-dreams] also available on Hulu Plus [http://www.hulu.com/watch/166742].
Naturally Obsessed: The Making of a Scientist, 2009. http://www.thirteen.org/naturally-obsessed/#.UOHzBL-zBZo
Real genius, 2002.
The new issue is online [Madroño 59(4)] and our paper is published! I am looking forward to getting back home to read it and the other articles in the new issue. Thanks to everyone for their patience and support for all the research and writing, I will be sending reprints your way.
WALDEN, G. K., and R. PATTERSON. 2012. Nomenclature of subdivisions in Phacelia (Boraginaceae). Madroño 59(4):211-222.
Abstract link http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3120/0024-9637-59.4.211
Full text [with subscription] http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.3120/0024-9637-59.4.211
At the Disability office at SFSU, there was a bookmark that calmly recommended ‘One thing at a time.’ Dr. Baldwin talked with me about preparation for oral qualifying exams and the scope of my thesis prospectus, and recommended his version. “One crisis at a time.”
Some ideas have been developing since my master’s thesis, and feel like a logical progression toward the goal of being able to answer questions of evolution in this group. Others are somewhat of a departure from systematics, and are less well articulated at this stage. I don’t know how other people write, but every potential thesis chapter definitely does not spring fully formed from my brain, it comes out as odd misshapes. Sentences that include notes to myself, find and insert citation here, random marginalia. Sometimes I write in notebooks in the field and later transfer it all together inside a larger structure, and sometimes I close my eyes and type everything listening to dubstep.
I am reading on edaphic endemism and serpentine for a committee meeting this week. The books have been sharing the window sill with my pet serpentine rocks. The state rock of California, yo. The button was given to me by Dr. Judy Jernstedt, my academic advisor at UC Davis, who signed all the paperwork that let me stay in school. The debts I owe and can never repay.
That gratitude includes my debts to Dr. Ellen Dean, who gave me botany training and a job at the Davis herbarium, and took me out in the field to show me what serpentine looked like at Payne Ranch. And she still gives the best advice ever.