Misha has worked with Untamed Science on a number of occasions – mostly being our subject and bug expert for some of the new collecting videos we’ve done. She’s one of the most giddy and enthusiastic researchers we know and she puts a smile on everyone’s face. Here are a few questions we wanted to ask her.
What insect/bug/arthropod best describes you (or what’s your favorite one(s)?
I thought long and hard about this one, ultimately deciding on Osmia californica, a mason bee in the leaf-cutter bee family. It’s native to California, visits a wide variety of plant groups, although solitary it nests gregariously, is a beautiful metallic blue color, and is valuable pollinator. I also am native to California, have a diversity of interests, am somewhat social, have an affinity for the color blue, and like to think I’m contributing to society. =)
What is your “job description”
I’m a postdoctoral researcher in the entomology department at the California Academy of Sciences. This means I get to spend almost all my time doing research, punctuated with fun informal science education activities.
What do you study now?
I’ve long been interested in human impacts on arthropod communities. While this previously meant looking at dynamics within the urban landscape, I’m now looking at arthropod activities inside the home.
What is the best thing about your job?
SO MANY! Getting paid to think about things I find interesting, being surrounded by other people who are also passionate about entomology, and getting to introduce people to the natural world.
What is the worst thing about your job?
The commute to San Francisco.
What inspired you to first study science?
I loved science since elementary school, largely thanks to Thornhill’s science teacher Mr. Luntz. I started getting into arthropods since I wanted a pet like most kids but was allergic to fuzzy mammals so my parents let me get a tarantula. I did a report on my tarantula Alyssa for school and learned so much about her biology. I still have the report that I wrote in 4th grade all about tarantulas, and was thrilled to get to show it to a visiting researcher to the Cal Academy who is one of the world’s experts on tarantulas!
What do you do in a typical day?
On a typical day I’m on my computer a lot, revising papers and analyzing data.
What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming an entomologist?
Go outside and observe. Try to learn names with field guides and iNaturalist. Learning names can be a pain at first, but it really helps to recognize all the diversity and learn different stories.