As part of a pandemic-inspired cross-country move, my husband, our baby, and I moved in with my in-laws for the summer of 2020. Here are some observations of how our multigenerational living experiment went, stories of the experiences we shared, and reflections on why it didn’t work.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

My mother-in-law is the epitome of American consumption


I recently moved from Houston, TX to the Upper Midwest — to a small town in northeast Wisconsin. I’ve noticed that people seem to be relatively non-concerned with climate change, recycling, and the general state of the environment, despite displaying overall more support for social safety nets and policies of tolerance. Put another way, the people in Wisconsin are generally more socially and fiscally liberal than the southerners down in Texas but, for whatever reason, the Wisconsinites aren’t as progressive when it comes to climate change and environmental policy.

Even conservatives down in Texas seemed to accept climate change, despite…


This article starts out tongue in cheek, but it gets really, really dark. (Sorry about that; just writing what I feel here, and it’s taking a different turn than I imagined!) Please don’t read on if you’re triggered by racial injustice or neonatal death.

Photo by Joan Villalon on Unsplash

If you asked me about my views on racism last year, I’d probably have answered in some way that lets you know that I know I’m woke. I might’ve casually worked in to our conversation some of the reasons I think I’m woke. Here are 5:

  1. I have a diverse friend group. Example anecdote: the bridal party lineup at my wedding consisted of 4 people, only 1 of which was white and not all of which were female.
  2. I was born in a holler in the Appalachians, raised in proper trailer park poverty, and I have the trashy tattoos to…

The monster was already there. But Trump told my dad that his bigotry is ok.

Photo by Joel Barwick on Unsplash

A Monday in Late October, 8:30 PM

My father is sleeping in the guest bedroom right now. He made his way up the stairs to his quarters at the end of the hall shortly after 8 pm: a bit early, to be sure, but long enough after our meal that he fulfilled standard familial expectations and had been deemed a dinner participant. …


My 10-month-old and I climbed into the UberBlack I’d scheduled for 5:45 am. The sun had yet to rise. The professional Uber driver, Fadi, whisked us past the glowing lights of strip malls and auto mechanic shops along I-45 in a newish black Suburban; we exited for the airport and I took one last look at the palm trees that I’d come to know as a sign that we were “home”.

Flying out of Hobby (the other Houston airport) on an early morning Southwest flight — the elderly passenger across the aisle from me, wearing Keen hiking boots, was reading…


Photo by Emma Gossett on Unsplash

The definition of what it means to be native as used by ecologists has not evolved much since the 1930s, when restoration ecology first came into vogue with Aldo Leopold’s work at the University of Wisconsin. Leopold, known today as the Founder of Restoration Ecology, was influenced by two common myths of his time, the colonial myth of wilderness and the scientific myth of Clementsian equilibrium ecology [1]. But from what origins did these myths that have influenced an entire discipline of science emerge? I tackled the origins of the Colonial Myth of the Wilderness in part 2 of this…


Last week I wrote an article that discussed the problem with the definition of native as it used in restoration ecology efforts the implication being that a spatiotemporal habitat is definable and constant. But landscapes change through time as tectonic plates drift around the globe like giant rafts, subject to ever-changing climate regimes, and the plants and animals that live within those landscapes evolve too.

However, the definition of what it means to be native as used by ecologists has not evolved much with the science that lends such great importance to the term. During my research to understand…


Photo by Laura Smetsers on Unsplash

What makes a species native or exotic?

Spatial borders can be roughly defined based on microclimates and other natural factors (e.g. soil types and groundwater…


I want his administration to immediately ban fracking and regulate carbon emissions, even if that means losing my job.

Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

I’m a geologist in the petroleum industry, and I vote progressive. Before you call me a hypocrite (if you’re liberal) or roll your eyes (if you’re conservative), hear me out:

Since 2015, I’ve been quite gainfully employed at one of the top energy companies in the world (you’ve definitely heard of it). I invested 10 years into my post-secondary education — first with a bachelor’s, then master’s, and ultimately a PhD — just to get where I am today. …

JP Akhter, PhD

I observe the world from a scientific and secular humanism perspective, and I write about nature, culture, and the characters in my life.

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