About Me

wolf den3My Story:

I am currently a PhD student at the University of Connecticut in the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology department.  With undergraduate specializations in biology, music and creative writing, I aim to conquer the world.  Or, at least, learn to tell about it.

Much of what I choose to write about is prompted by things in nature that I love and how much I desire to understand their inner workings.  To me, just recognizing an object is not enough; I need to know why it is the way it is, and how it came to be that way, how it became so unique among other things.  The study of science, particularly ecology and evolution, has led me to much greater understanding of origins, but I still love the hunt.  That’s why I write about such diverse topics.

Check out my personal website at http://www.jessierack.com

Education:

University of Connecticut                                                                                      2010-present                                                                                                                                             PhD Student                                                                                                      Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Slippery Rock University                                                                                            2007-2010                                                                                                                                            BS in Biology

West Virginia University                                                                                           2000-2005                                                                                        BA in Music, minor in Creative Writing

Academic interests:

I study predator-prey chemical interactions between different species of salamander larvae across a geographic scale.  In English: I want to know whether young salamanders can recognize predatory salamanders by smell, and whether this ability changes if the predator comes from farther away.

Other interests and hobbies:

Running, reading, knitting, hiking, camping, writing, and gardening!

13 responses to “About Me

  1. Yay for a fellow grad student! I have a question for you…is it possible to find salamanders in the winter? I read that they can sometimes be found as early as March, but I have never seen one that early in the year.

    • 🙂 Yay, grad school! To answer your question…it depends on what kind. Some species (adult red-spotted newts, for example) hang out on the bottom of ponds beneath ice in the winter. Others, like spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum), bury themselves deep underground, but come out in early spring to lay eggs. I collect spotted eggs in March, as soon as there’s a good rain to thaw ice and snow. Hope this helps! I just found your blog, and I’m really enjoying it!

  2. (PS: yep, I just edited that to italicize a species name. You’re welcome. Haha)

  3. Jessie, Eric forwarded this to me. It’s great! Two thoughts came to mind as I read your blog: “What about Andy?” and “What about a plug for Siamese Rescue?” Re. Andy, or is it Mandy? How about a blurb informing folks that newt longevity far exceeds elementary schooler’s interest?
    Add rescuing Siamese cats to list of hobbies? Not everyone can claim that one. . . !

  4. Great blog! Glad you found our post helpful!

  5. Thanks for liking my most, up close and personal. I have found at the age of 51 that I am a naturalist at heart…who knew? I am looking forward to reading your posts. Have you read the book “The evolution of Calpurnia Tate”? You might like it.

    • I have not! Thanks for the recommendation! I am of the opinion that if more people spent time outdoors, many would discover they were, in fact, naturalists. Thanks for the follow!

      • I would tend to agree with you, although there are the select few, like my husband, who hate being outdoors unless armed with a golf club. No matter how hard I try, I can’t overcome this.

  6. emmalouiselloyd

    Thanks for the comment on my blog – really enjoying reading yours too! I love how you combine science and poetry. I also like how your three specialisations, “biology, music, and creative writing”, are pretty much the three things I enjoy most in the world too. High five!

    • Total high five! Thanks for reading mine! Maybe someday we can figure out how to combine all three of those interests into a career. 🙂

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