Discovering a New Butterfly-Ant-Parasitic Plant Relationship

6 Butterfly on Tree

“Huh, that’s weird”, I muttered as I trudged through the mud in the rainforest. Even though the sun was setting, it was still hot and steamy, and sweat was dripping into my eyes as I stared at a tree with bizarre yellow outgrowths… Watch the video “Mystery of the Yellow … Continue reading

Testing a Foldable Microscope in the Amazon Rainforest

2 Leaf gall compilation Foldscope

For the past few months I’ve been working with Stanford University researchers who developed an origami-style paper microscope, known as the Foldscope. We were the first researchers to take the Foldscope out to the Amazon rainforest and investigate the micro-world with nothing but this incredible device and a cell phone. Below … Continue reading

We Found (and yelled at) a Crazy Tentacled Caterpillar

On my recent travels through the Peruvian Amazon, I came upon the craziest caterpillar that I have ever seen, and subsequently yelled at it for hours.   Why did I yell at it? Well, its strange behavior towards sound was why I noticed it in the first place. I had … Continue reading

Bioluminescence in the Peruvian Amazon – Like the Avatar Movie, but in Real Life

cover photo2

  If you’re familiar with the 2009 science fiction film, Avatar, you may have enjoyed the lush extraterrestrial glowing rainforest. But the glowing rainforest that I experienced was real, and it occurred in the Peruvian Amazon of Tambopata this past March. I should start off by mentioning that I’m an … Continue reading

BioSCAN and Los Angeles’s 30 Newest Species


  A recent study has revealed thirty species that are new to science living in the bustling city of Los Angeles. This is really exciting news because we usually don’t think of urbanized areas as having biologically diverse environments. Our human-made habitat seems removed from nature; buildings and concrete replacing … Continue reading

Why Do Flowers Have Color? A Closer Look with Foldscope

Foldscope investigates flower cells

Flowering plants belong to a group called angiosperms and the first flowering plant existed somewhere around 160 million years ago. Since then, flowering plants have become extremely diverse, as we can see today in their range of shapes, colors, sizes, and smells. Many flowers derive their colors from the production … Continue reading

Changing the World with a 50-Cent Paper Microscope

folscope done

Anyone who has spent time in a lab has likely hunched over a microscope at some point. They are standard instruments for visualizing and investigating small objects. The problem is that microscopes are relatively large and expensive, which can be a barrier to people with an interest in science or … Continue reading

Rise of the Orb-Weaver Spiders: Next-Gen Sequencing Reveals Spidey Evolution

micrathena spiny butt

Spiders! They’re creatures you’re certain to encounter in and around your homes. If you can get past the eight legs and fangs, you might be able to appreciate their rich evolutionary history. A spined Micrathena spider, belonging to family Araneidae Spiders have been around for hundreds of millions of years … Continue reading

An Entomologist’s Perspective on Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

DNA sequence 2

I remember first learning about Oxitec’s genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes several years ago. I was an entomology undergraduate sitting in my Insect Physiology seminar and, to be perfectly honest, the whole concept was a little over my head at the time. I was trying to wrap my brain around how … Continue reading

A List of Who to Follow for Entomology on Social Media

Blue flying beetle

Entomology, the scientific study of insects, is an incredibly important branch of zoology. Entomologists find themselves working in a wide-range of areas within this field, including agriculture, human and animal health, ecology, pest control, disease transmission, systematics, chemistry, genetics, and the list goes on. Entomologists come in many different forms: … Continue reading