Miami Blue



  Once common throughout coastal southern Florida, the Miami Blue butterfly now ranks among North America’s rarest insects. Today, this species is only found on a few small, low islands in the Florida Keys. The Florida Museum of Natural History, in partnership with Disney, invited me to produce a series of media products to highlight their conservation work with these butterflies.
 To show previous donors the project’s progress and encourage their continued support, I produced a short film focusing on the butterfly project's human dimension. I wanted viewers to empathize with the team’s extreme care and uplifting sense of hope for the recovery of the species.

DONOR FILM {4 mins}


  The Museum partnered with local brewing company First Magnitude to craft a limited edition beer to raise awareness for the Miami Blue butterfly. I produced a promo video for this unique partnership, which included a light-hearted logo animation and some solid beer footage -- both firsts for me!



  Much of my work focuses on spotlighting organisms that are easily overlooked. For the Miami Blue project, I wanted to make a large event banner that revealed — in crazy extreme detail — the beauty of these butterflies, which are small enough to fit on a nickel. I created an image comprising tiled focus stacks of 40-50 photographs of a single Miami Blue butterfly. The final stitched composite was made up of over 2,000 individual photographs, printed on vinyl at 15x15ft (it could’ve been bigger), and displayed at Miami Blue beer launch event at First Magnitude.



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Between Two Lichens



   In 2017 the International Wildlife Film Festival hosted their first ever science filmmaking workshop prior to the festival. Designed to bring new producers to the genre and foster new collaborations, the workshop brought together career scientists, media professionals, and others somewhere in between. Out of hundreds of applicants, only 16 individuals were selected to participate in the five day workshop. During the final three days, participants were broken into groups of four, paired with a University of Montana scientist, and tasked with producing a short film about the scientist’s research. The workshop short films were screened at the festival.
   Below is my team's film. It centers on an interesting discovery that fundamentally changed how we understand lichens, one of the most ancient lifeforms on the planet. After just six hours of filming in a cabin in Montana, and only minutes after wrapping production, this film won the short film competition at the festival. Between Two Lichens has gone on to several other popular science/wildlife film festivals. Most challenging and rewarding 72 hours of filmmaking I’ve had to date.



FILM {4 mins}



Leaf Miners


 My PhD research (2017-2014) focused on the evolutionary origins of microscopic Hawaiian Philodoria moths. Highlights from this multiyear project include: 

  • finding out that this moth lineage is over 20 million years old, the oldest Hawaiian animal lineage known
  • demonstrating an ancient colonization of the moths to Hawaii, to volcanoes that are now sunken beneath the ocean surface
  • a three year science scavenger hunt resulting in the discovery of 17 new species of Philodoria

 While my research was important/interesting from a scientific angle, on a more personal level, I wanted to see if it was possible to get people to pause - even for just a moment - to ponder and be awed by something so small, rare, and (to most) previously unimportant.



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  With generous support from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society, I was able to spend a significant part of my PhD producing media about our research with these moths. Outreach was such a substantial aspect of my work that the University allowed me to include a short film I produced as a chapter in my dissertation, the first instance of this in a science department at the institution. The film, titled LEAF MINERS, was an Official Selection at the 2016 Hawaii International Film Festival.
  In LEAF MINERS, I use macro time-lapses to show the developmental stages of the moths, which are the size of an eyelash, making filming extremely challenging. The film goes on to draw an unexpected connection between these organisms and Hawaiian culture. This biocultural theme is an undertone throughout much of my work.


  While conducting my fieldwork in Hawaii, I also captured the story of our scientific process through photographs. These photos have been on display in unique places, engaging a surprisingly broad audience about the lives of the moths. Images have been shown at the National Geographic Museum, Telluride Mountain Film Festival, National Geographic online, Hana Ho (Hawaii’s most popular in-flight magazine), and Oak Hammock, a retirement community in central Florida.





Science Creativity Course


  Over the course of my PhD, it became clear to me that marrying high-quality media, storytelling, and science was my primary passion. To help fellow scientists realize their own creativity, I designed and co-teach a graduate course titled Creative Science Communication in the Biology Department at the University of Florida. The goal of the course is to give young scientists the creative concepts and multimedia tools to elevate the impact of their research. With graduate student participants from both science and communications departments on campus, the class is the first of its kind at the University. Recently having finished its second year, the course received an award from the University recognizing its teaching impact. The success of this course has shown me the great opportunity there is to help scientists think creatively about how they communicate their work.

Course Flier