There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Growing up, my parents were always dragging my brother and I along on numerous hikes and camping and sailing trips; the Pacific Northwest is perfect for this. But as children can be prone to do, we would constantly complain about tired feet and ugh this is so boooring. And so, unfortunately, these little trips slowly dwindled as we grew up.

However, an appreciation for the outdoors always remained–particularly for forests and oceans. My first volunteer position was at the Seattle Aquarium–spending hours hanging around the octopus and cuttlefish. Originally wanting to pursue marine biology, sensitivity to seasickness led me to stick to land. However, this doesn’t prevent me from jumping into practically every body of water encountered–no matter how cold.

Lake Serene, WA

After graduating in August 2009 from the University of Washington (Seattle), I was hit with wanderlust. The director at the primate lab where I was a research student overheard talk of field work and so lent me Robert Sapolsky’s A Primate’s Memoir to read while my supervisor sent me to Primate Info Net. Finally a chance to combine some of my favorite things: science, travel and the great outdoors!

After several failed attempts due to lack of field experience, a PhD student finally agreed to let me come out to Lajuma Research Centre to work on phenology.

Climbing things is fun…

This blog was then started to document experiences with people and animals while living abroad. While initially, my hope one day would be to study something on every continent–I want to know how things Work and what they Are. Now, in addition, I would love to work with local communities in terms of conservation, education and disease prevention. It’s also perfect for being outside, tramping around and getting dirty. There’s so much beauty out there–why be trapped INSIDE?

However, as the daughter of Chinese immigrants, my parents weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of a life spent lumbering through the forest after animals. But they eventually changed their minds (after realizing how stubborn I can be) and even came to visit!

I am extremely thankful for them instilling a sense of awe for life outside the city and their continued support for a non-traditional path as I slowly make my way from here to there, studying one organism at a time.

Banner Photo: Infant Samango monkey taken during follow session at Lajuma in the Soutpansberg Mountain Range
Meet Stan, the alpha male of the House Troop at Lajuma, South Africa (2010)! My first follow day!

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