What they’re into … with Miriam Goldstein (Deep Sea News)

This is a series I am featuring each Tuesday this summer to get a special sneak peek at the many different of personalities behind the scientists, activists, and educators (including bloggers) who play an integral role in the marine science conservation field of today and tomorrow. It’s essentially an extension of the overwhelmingly popular and well done Tumblr blog, This Is What A Scientist Looks Like, (BCS was featured in April!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I’ve sent a list of 15 random questions and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them. This week features my favorite commentator over at Deep Sea News, Miriam Goldstein.

Miriam is a Ph.D. student studying Biological Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. For her thesis work, she is researching the impact of plastic debris on zooplankton communities and invasive species transport in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. She is the principal investigator on the SEAPLEX cruise, which explored plastic debris in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre in August 2009. Miriam is an active science popularizer and educator, and has appeared on CNN, CBS, NPR Science Friday, and PRI’s The World, among many other media outlets. Her popular writing has appeared in Slate Magazine and Open Laboratory, and she currently writes for the web’s leading marine science blog, Deep Sea News. Miriam has been a Fellow in the NSF Marine Biodiversity and Conservation IGERT program and the NSF GK-12 teaching program. She holds an M.S. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a B.S. in Biology from Brown University. Before coming to Scripps, she worked as a construction project manager in New York City, an outdoor educator in New Hampshire, and an environmental consultant in Boston. Miriam is originally from Manchester, NH.

What is your favorite fruit flavor?
I don’t really like fruit flavored things that aren’t fruit, but I LOVE berries. One of the best things about living in southern California is all the strawberries, especially in February! But my very favorites are raspberries and blueberries.

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
That’s really hard since brunch is my favorite meal. I’d say it’s a tie between my own homemade popovers with maple butter (I like to bake) and my husband’s chilaquiles (a spicy mix of fried corn tortillas, eggs, and onions). {Scroll down for the chilaquiles recipe}

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Definitely a night owl, which is sort of unfortunate since marine biology is organized around a lot of early mornings. I still do my best to never start work before 9:30 or 10 AM, since I don’t really wake up fully until then.

Which sitcom character do you relate to?
I’m a huge nerd and I love kickass female characters. So one of my favorite shows is Buffy the Vampire Slayer (though I’m really more of a Willow than a Buffy). I also love Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica and Zoe from Firefly. Veronica Mars is probably my favorite TV character closest to being a scientist, since she’s a detective.

What is your favorite pastime?
I like to waste time on the internet, bake, and backpack. My favorite thing to bake is pie, any kind of pie, though my husband’s favorite is my apple cranberry crisp. We’ve been backpacking the John Muir trail in the Sierras for the past few summers – last summer we did an 100-mile hike from Bishop to Mt. Whitney, most of which was above 10,000 feet. Standing on top of Mt. Whitney was pretty amazing – it’s so high that if we were in an airplane, we’d be able to use our electronic devices!

Are you a cat person, dog person, or neither?
Both! I love dogs, but I travel too much to have one. I have two cats, one skinny and one…not so skinny. It’s a constant battle to keep the fat cat at an acceptable level of fatness. (She shared a picture of them here too!)

If you were a geometric shape, what would you like to be?
A dodecahedron so I could have the coolest name.

What’s some other random favorite information about yourself?
My new favorite thing is Spotify, the music service. I’ve become a little obsessed with making themed Spotify mixes. You can check them out here: http://sharemyplaylists.com/members/miriamgoldstein/playlists.

I am honored that Miriam shared some insight into her day-to-day life and I definitely agree that being a dodecahedron is the way to go as far as shapes. Be sure to check last week’s featured ocean conservationist David Helvarg, Executive Director of Blue Frontier, and check back next Tuesday for a guy who loves his job so much that Fridays and Mondays are meaningless. Now that’s the way to live!

Chilaquiles recipe
Serves two people, scales linearly. The better the tortillas, the better the dish. Fresh salsa will be better, too (from the refrigerator aisle, or homemade, if you have the energy). This recipe will be mildly spicy. There are lots of way to give it more kick, but my preferred is to add a habanero to the jalapenos.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped into 1″ pieces. Not too small.
4 eggs
8 high quality corn tortillas, sliced into 1″ x 3″ strips (approx.)
salsa (at room temperature)
cheddar cheese (for grating)
half avocado, chopped (optional)
vegetable oil

Tools: Skillet or frying pan, knife and cutting board for chopping, two dinner plates, 1 medium mixing bowl, and 1 small mixing bowl.

1) Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a skillet at medium, enough to coat pan and then some.
2) Put onions into pan and sautee. After a  minute, add peppers. Saute both until soft.
3) Put onions and peppers into small bowl and set aside.
4) Add oil to pan until it’s 1/2″ deep, and heat oil on medium high. When you put a piece of tortilla in, it should sizzle. If it doesn’t, oil isn’t hot enough.
5) Put in tortillas and fry. Push them around until they start to get crunchy. Tortillas will cook unevenly, which is fine. Remove when you have reached preferred level of crunchiness. We like them with some bend left in them.
6) Remove tortillas to bowl with paper towel in it. Pour off oil in pan until there’s enough left to  coat the pan.
7) Put half of tortillas and half of onion-pepper mixture back into pan. Push around until everything is warm again.
8) Crack two eggs over tortilla-onion mixture. Scramble quickly so eggs will cook into mixture.
9) When eggs are cooked, pile onto empty plate.
10) IMMEDIATELY grate cheddar over mixture, enough to make a thin layer over the center of the mixture. Add more if you like more, less if you like less. Cheddar shreds will melt over hot mixture.
11) Repeat steps 7-10 for each person.

Add avocado chunks, if you have them. Put a few tablespoons of salsa on top of each plate. Put the salsa on the table, in case diners prefer more. Eat promptly.

What they’re into … with David Helvarg

This is a series I will be featuring each Tuesday this summer to get a special sneak peak at the different personalities behind the scientists, activists, and educators (including bloggers) who play an integral role in the marine science conservation field. It’s essentially an extension of the overwhelmingly popular and well done Tumblr blog, This Is What A Scientist Looks Like, (BCS was featured in April!) which sets out to illustrate that scientists are not just crazy haired nerds in lab coats. I’ve sent a list of 15 random questions to some folks I know and asked that each person share at least their answers to 5 of them. This first week we’re starting off with the one and only David Helvarg.

David is an author and Executive Director of Blue Frontier Campaign.  has written: Blue Frontier, The War Against the Greens, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean, Rescue Warriors and Saved by the Sea. His next book, ‘The Golden Shore – California’s Love Affair with the Sea’ will be out in early 2013. He is editor of the Ocean and Coastal Conservation Guide and organizer of ‘Peter Benchley Ocean Awards’ and ‘Blue Vision’ Summits for ocean activists. He has worked as a war correspondent in Northern Ireland and Central America, covered a range of issues from military science to the AIDS epidemic, and reported from every continent including Antarctica. An award-winning journalist, he produced more than 40 broadcast documentaries for PBS, The Discovery Channel, and others. His print work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, LA Times, Smithsonian, Sierra, and Parade. He’s done radio work for Marketplace, AP radio, and Pacifica. He has led workshops for journalists in Poland, Turkey, Tunisia, Slovakia and Washington DC. David is a licensed Private Investigator, body-surfer and scuba diver.

Here are David’s answers to his chosen questions:

What is the last thing you bought that you shouldn’t have?
A 12-pack of Coke.

What is your favorite Sunday breakfast?
Huevos Rancheros, fresh OJ and the Sunday New York Times, ideally on a porch with friends and a water view.

Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Can’t say I really give a hoot but neither do I wake up with a smile on my face.

What is your favorite room in your home?
My home office – just a 10 second commute from the bedroom.  If you work hard you get to play hard. 

What is your favorite scent?
The iodine and slightly kelpy odor of a living sea.

What is your favorite sundae topping?
Anchovies.  Only kidding.  Chopped nuts, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, it’s all good.

What is your favorite pastime?
Bodysurfing, diving, or snorkeling depending on conditions.

What three things would you take with you to an island?
Dive gear, my girlfriend and a boat.

How superstitious are you?
I believe in evolution and anthropogenic climate change so not very but I have given the occasional agnostic prayer for friends and loved ones in trouble.

What is your favorite day of the week?
Whatever day of the week I’m on a beach.

Are you a cat person, dog person, or neither?
Thought I was a dog person till I ended up in a 20-year relationship with a tabby named Poose, the finest small furry predator I’ve ever known or am likely to.

If you were a geometric shape, what would you like to be?
Elliptical.

Thanks to David for playing along and I hope you’re relaxing on the beach enjoying an ice cream sundae with plenty of chopped nuts, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream somewhere. To the dear rest of you, please keep an eye out for more to come from other amazing ocean conservationists this summer and please don’t forget to participate in the Summer Sustainability Creativity Challenge!

It’s on: Summer Sustainability Creativity Challenge!

Summer is here and what better time of year to show your devotion to the ocean with some fun and creativity? Inspired by 1) the trio of huge fish made from plastic bottles constructed as a display during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development this past month and 2) my new found skill at fusing plastic I am calling upon all readers and friends of readers to create some art (functional or not) with items they would otherwise toss. Why not start a collection of bottle caps or soda tabs to create a sign for your favorite band or music act? Start creating a pile of cardboard and make an homage to your favorite animal, brand, or company just like artist Mark Langan. These submissions can also be useful for around the house. Why not upcycle glass baby food jars for storage? I’ve got my own projects in the works and will share later this summer.

This contest is set up to demonstrate that anyone, anywhere can make an impact on saving the ocean. That’s right, even if you’re a Minnesota-ite (or is it Minnesotian?) everything that goes into your watershed will end up in the sea. This contest is also set up to help build awareness as to how much waste we produce that we could otherwise reuse. Who knows, maybe this contest can be practice for when you someday build an entire home out of shipping containers?

Rules and regulations

  1. Each entry should be photographed and emailed to info@beachchairscientist.com no later than midnight EDT on August 17, 2012 (please limit to 4 images at 300 dpi).
  2. All images sent will be property of Beach Chair Scientist.
  3. Each entry should be accompanied with a brief statement including 1) names and ages of the artists, 2) what type(s) of how much of each material(s) were used, 3) any other material(s) used, 4) collection process for gathering material(s), 5) intend of the piece, and 6) favorite anecdote from the while creating the entry for the Summer Sustainability Creativity Challenge. This statement should not exceed 500 words.
  4. Entry can be submitted by any one person or organization. The winner will be notified to the email address that submitted the entry on August 31, 2012.
  5. This year there will be three top entries chosen by a group of three remarkable individuals (1 teacher and 2 non-formal science educators that will be introduced later this summer). Their judging will be based on four overall factors: creativity and originality, message and intent, collection process, and lessons learned. On August 24, 2012 these entries will be announced and we’ll launch into an audience participation vote when the voting will close at midnight EDT on August 30, 2012. The winner will be announced August 31, 2012.

Prize package

  1. (1) Beach Chair Scientist t-shirt (winner’s preference)
  2. (1) Marine science learning packet (coloring book, learning pages, stickers, etc.)
  3. (1) $50.00 gift certificate to your favorite store on Etsy
  4. (1) Autographed hardcopy edition of Josie Iselin’s Beach: A Book of Treasure
  5. (1) David Helvarg’s 50 Ways to Save the Ocean (hardcover or e-book, winner’s preference)
  6. The honor and prestige of being the first winner of the Summer Sustainability Creativity Challenge!
  7. The top 10 entries will be featured in a video posted on August 31, 2012

If you or your organization would like to co-sponsor this contest please contact info@beachchairscientist.com. Please do not hesitate to contact info@beachchairscientist.com with any additional questions or comments.