I have wanted to start this blog for a while now. I had a grandiose plan for introducing the Big Ideas that I want to explore, but that perfect first post remained too intimidating, and too elusive.
So, instead, I decided to start with myself: who I am and why I want to write in the first place. So here goes.
I am an epidemiologist. A data scientist and a semi-statistician. I am a writer of all things fun and fictional, as well as structured and technical. I love animals. Both my own Aria, a 9 month old black kitten who has stolen my heart, and all of the animals walking, stalking, climbing, and swimming around us. (Though really, by animals, I generally mean vertebrates—mammals and birds, with some reptiles, fish, and amphibians that I can find interesting and not creepy.)
When I was little, I wanted to be a writer. I was a prolific one too, crafting stories and creating books with second-grader abandon. But I grew up, and forgot about that passion, and promptly abandoned writing for more rigorous scholarly pursuits. Until a few years ago.
I am fascinated by stories of wildlife conservationists in the field; of scientists braving the elements and predators and wars and politics to study and save animals and wild places that would otherwise be forgotten and lost forever. I had the absolutely wonderful opportunity to work with the Gorilla Doctors in Musanze, Rwanda and study the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla and get a small taste of the challenges these scientists face on a daily basis.
But where are their stories? A few have sprouted into the public view through biographies, but throngs know of Indiana Jones compared to the handful that know of Jane Goodall. Let’s elevate these stories. Let’s examine why the media portrayal of wildlife stories gets such a bad rap (Cecil the Lion, anyone?), if it gets any coverage at all (raise your hand if you knew Congress finally voted the bison as the National Mammal; bonus points if you know how many are actually wild, free ranging*). Let’s bring color and life to these stories, to bring balance to the dialogue about conservation and inspire future generation of animal lovers.
*15,000, although there are about 500,000 on private lands including those for livestock, and 30,000 in public lands. But this is down from 60+ million historically.