Author Archives: Michelle B. Larson

My Science

I just returned from the annual meeting of the AAAS, where I was thoroughly impressed by the focus on science communication. Inspired by that experience, I’m posing this writing exercise to my scientist colleagues and friends.


Scientists: Fill in the blanks below with language that would leave a stranger so interested they want to learn more. Post your responses in the comments to this blog.

1. My science is about  ______(ten words max).

2. I became interested in my science when ______(ten words max).

3.  I stay intrigued by my science because  ______(ten words max).

4. Those of us who work on my science are stumped by _____(ten words max).

5. Here’s a link to an image that shows my science.  My caption for how this image depicts my science is the following: ______________(ten words max).

I am a scientist because . . .

by Michelle B. Larson

I am a scientist because . . .
. . .  I wonder
. . .  I am curious, and stubborn
. . .  I think before I speak or act
. . .  I can do anything I set my mind to
. . .  I question everything, anything, I am told
. . .  I understand why, not just how things work
. . .  I expect logic and civility in discourse
. . .  I can be wrong, and admit it
. . .  I do not give up

February Prompt: “I am a scientist because . . .”


by Michelle B. Larson

In my youth, I was thought to be invincible.

In my adolescence, immortal.

Oblivious freedom, then
Conscious denial.

In mid-life, a recognized need to take care.

Longevity required reversing past neglect.
Sustaining new behaviors.

I was Earth.

I Can’t, but I Can

by Michelle B. Larson

I can’t sing.

In second grade mom was called into a parent teacher conference. The teacher asked if she could talk to me about mouthing the words when the class sang. I sang out of tune (enthusiastically, but out of tune). Apparently, I was distracting everyone else. Clearly, singing doesn’t come naturally. Enthusiasm, screw it.

In college I held a job at a Rangeland Insect Lab. I spent months in Montana pastures sweeping up grasshoppers with only my headphones and singing to pass the long, dry, hot days. I loved the music so much I sang while at the microscope back in the lab. I sang until a fellow college student pointed out that I can’t sing. Why did I feel so compelled to do so? Could I, please, stop.

I can’t sing.
But, wait. I can learn.

Junior year in college I took singing lessons. It started rocky. But, I could see the professor believed in me. He politely ignored my out-of-tune bellows. He ignored them for weeks. Offering technique pointers now and then, but never questioning my ability to, someday, get it right. Then, someday came. I’ll never forget his face. Yes! Yes! Michelle, Yes! You’ve got it.

I can sing!

I joined the choir. Turns out I’m a high soprano. Who knew. I can sing! What doesn’t come naturally was conquerable with hard work and perseverance. I can learn. Singing still doesn’t come naturally. And, high soprano doesn’t sound great along with the car radio. But, I know, when I work at it, I can sing!

You can’t do math.

Perhaps mom and dad say they can’t do math either. Yet, math is interesting, especially as it applies to the world around you. But, math doesn’t come naturally. Enthusiasm, screw it.

You can’t do math.
But, wait. You can learn.
If you work at it, you can do math.

You can do math!

Pervasive Design

by Michelle B. Larson

I wake, I see
cubic block glass window – privacy.

I shower, cold smacks
concentric circle shower head – relax.

Hot coffee, add cream
convection cell pattern – and steam.

Outside, I run
cubic block snow fort – how fun.

Dark clouds, all huddle
concentric circle rain drops – in puddle.

The Sun, what joy
convection cell pattern – Voronoi.

Construction site, new buyer
cubic block buildings – rising higher.

Classroom, kids learn
concentric circle solar system – Kepler.

Lunchtime, large group
convection cell pattern – good soup.

Walk home, new path
pervasive design – physics and math.