Sunday, October 31, 2010


American Geophysical Union (AGU) is the world's largest orginization of Earth and space scientists. They recently launched a section in their site dedicated to a network of science blogs. Their ABOUT section explains it all.

I was honored to be asked by AGU to create the banners for the blogs. Click the image to get to the AGU Blogosphere site. Scroll down and click each mini banner to see the full banner. It's worth spending some time reading through the blogs, too. They all have really fascinating information in them.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Snap Judgment is a place for the pass old tradition of storytelling through the exciting, upbeat and fresh media of today.

I am so proud to give a shout out to my boyfriend, Thayer Walker who will be regaling us with his story of Bolivia and his relationship with a nearly 300 pound jaguar tonight. It will air on npr // pbs, but you can see it live tonight. You can buy tickets here.

Who: Thayer Walker on Snap Judgment
What: 4 individuals with incredible stories about animals with a live band
Where: Brava Theater
2781 24th Street
San Francisco , CA 94110
When: 7:30-10:30pm

Thursday, October 21, 2010


So, I've been in Panama for 17 days now. As usual, there is so much to do, learn, absorb that days move way to fast.

I just wanted to share some of the progress that is being made in my three projects with Juan Mate. He oversees the management plan of Coiba National Park and I'm creating three booklets for him and the park. I'll start with some of the paintings that I've done so far for a popular version of the management plan.

WHITE-TIPPED SHARK - gouache, graphite

SCARLET MACAW - gouache, graphite

Coiba is one of the last places that you can see these birds in the wild. Pretty amazing.

GREEN SEA TURTLE - gouache, graphite

AMBERJACKS - gouache, graphite

These paintings are going to be used on the cover page and throughout the Management Book Popular Version. The purpose of this booklet is to explain the history of the island, attractions and activities geared towards the general public. Juan wanted a booklet that would appeal to this demographic and be easy to read and understand. Below is the cover and table of contents in progress. The second macaw and the Coiba howler monkey (endemic to the island) still need to painted. I also attached the concept layout below to show how the painted animals really make a more dynamic piece when compared to the concept that is comprised of a collage of photos. It makes me smile. I love how in paintings, you can make things better than real life. The seascape in the background is a manipulated collection of photos that will stay a photograph. I like the way that looks. :) I added the school of fish and the divers into one of Juan's photos.


The red box will have a detailed map of the island. Juan has a map guy who will be making that. I would really love to learn how to use a map making program. I love maps. One day...

Another book is for fishing at the island. This book will describe how to obtain a permit and which fishes can be caught, how many, etc.

This is the general feel and look I am going for. The book is actually going to be printed on thick plastic pages and spiral bound. It's very cool. It's much better than laminated pages which was the original plan. Now the book will definitely be able to withstand all the water from fishing not to mention the wetness in general of Panama/the tropics.

The final book is a diving and snorkeling manual. I haven't worked out the design of this, but meanwhile I've recreated the line work for maps associated with different dive/snorkeling sites. It's missing a boat on the surface of the water. :) Also Juan will come up with a different key. I just placed these stamps as place holders. I don't know why, but I really love these type of illustrations. They're so simple, but actually incredibly informative. I think the simplification creates clarity of information.

So this is the work I've done thus far! But what about life in Panama outside of the Smithsonian you ask?'s been admittedly slow. I'm just starting to make friends. Yay! I even have plans this Friday! First one since I've been here. Then on Saturday, I'm going to Ross's farm with him and his girlfriend. It's about 3 hours away from the city, but I don't remember the name of the area. It's surrounded by a lot of forest with walking trails. I'm really looking forward to being outside and I especially can't wait to see what sort of animals I come across. I'll put up photos in another post!

I'm also taking Spanish classes that meet twice a week. They are private lessons so it's really intensive. We speak only in Spanish for an hour and a half. I really love my teacher. She's super funny and makes me feel really comfortable. Plus we have simlar names--Juanita es se llama.

I love latin food. There is a restaurant next to the lab called Ranchito and they have really delicious Panamanian dishes. I go there from time to time. You can get lunch specials that come with soup, the main dish, a drink and dessert for about $7. Pretty ridiculous. Yum!

I can't believe that October is almost over! I'm very much looking forward to working with Alexandra Hiller next and I'm sure the month is going to fly just as quickly as this one.

More to come!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010


I was just reminiscing of Yosemite and I realized that I never gave a proper shout out to my most wonderful director Eric Berlow.

I couldn't have asked for a better person to work with this summer. He was super encouraging and supportive of artistic freedom and ideas. Eric isn't a micro-manager and really values the power of inspiration. I was pushed by my own inspiration to create. That's a pretty rare environment to be in, so THANK YOU, ERIC!

This year Eric was a TED Fellow, and I stole this head shot from there. You can see his profile here. He also has some pretty amazing stuff going on. Check out his website here.

Yay Eric!

Friday, October 8, 2010


I arrived on the evening of October 4th to start my internship at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. It's now Friday and 4 days into it, the muscles in my shoulders and the knot in my stomach are beginning to relax.

So far, the everything has gone very smoothly. The plane was on time, my bags made it through, the customs people didn't think I looked suspicious, and my renewed passport now has its first stamp. I was met by Juan Mate, the first scientist I am working with during my 3 month stay. This is the first time I exited an airport and was greeted by someone holding a sign with my name on it. I see that all the time at airports and it definitely made me smile to see JANE KIM written on one of them.

I am staying in Albrook near Panama City in an in-law type apartment belonging to another scientist I will be working with, Ross Robertson. It's a pretty nice set up in a quiet residential neighborhood. Within walking distance I have a pharmacy, bank, ice cream, a few places to eat, groceries, a pool and a BLOCKBUSTER! My blockbuster card actually works in Panama. Given that there is no internet access and I rely very heavily on movies as background noise while I work, the Blockbuster was a much welcome amenity. I will limit myself to only 2 movies a week. I can't blow all of my money on movies. :)

The apartment is very cozy and surrounded by thick growth of palms and other tropical foliage that Ross planted when he bought the place. Below are some pics of the place. Cute, no?




There is a pond in the backyard and is home to a bunch of mosquito eating fish including guppies. Yay guppies! I used to have a small fish bowl of guppies when I was young. It was one of those round old school bowls that had philodendrons spilling out the top. I started with only 2 guppies and over time, I ended up with a little colony of them. Ross mentioned that at dawn, fishing bats come and eat the guppies. I may not see these. I can't imagine that I'll be awake very much at dawn. 7 am is usually as early as I like to get up. Anyway, I love anything that eats mosquitoes.

A little further in, there is a metal stand. Ross explained that if you put veggie and fruit scraps, you'll get all kinds of critters in the yard. So far I've seen agoutis (ñieques in spanish) back there. I wasn't able to get a photo, but I downloaded one off the internet. I didn't know what they were until the other day when I saw them. They are sooooo coool! I love them and they're big. They are about the size of a beagle, but dogs and cats don't like these rodents. They have a gland under their butt that secretes a scent that keeps them away. Ross was also telling me that there are 3-5 jesus lizards that hang around the pond. Males can reach a foot long! Again, the picture is from the internet.


So I'm all settled in. I have my Smithsonian ID card, access card and keys from the main office, Tupper. I found out that it is called Tupper because Tupperware funded the building of this office. I've had several successful cab rides and am now looking into enrolling in Spanish courses. I have a small office in the Naos Marine Lab and am already busy with several projects. This internship is very different from Yosemite. It is a lot more structured and I have specific assignments so to speak. I think it will feel a little more like school in the sense that the syllabus is already written. No more backpacking adventures gallavanting in the Sierras and self-directed projects. I do plan on exploring areas outside of Panama City to get my fix of being outdoors and immersed in nature. On my list of must sees is Coiba National Park.

As I mentioned, the first scientist that I am working with is Juan Mate. He directs the new management plan for Coiba National Park (Parque Nacional Coiba). Coiba is an amazing island and the park is Panama's largest national park. It is a pristine gem and for the most part, untouched by development. It used to be a penal colony much like Alcatraz. It officially closed for this purpose in 2004/5 and is now on it's way to becoming a major attraction. It provides world class diving and snorkeling among rich coral reefs just beyond white sandy beaches. I can't wait to see it!!! So as you can imagine, I'm thrilled to be designing brochures and booklets for the park. One booklet is for the general public and it is an overview of the new management plan. I'm also laying out a pamphlet about diving in Coiba. Finally, I'll be designing a poster for fishermen around the island. I'll post images as these projects develop.

Whew!!! This is a long post. A lot to cover. I think all change brings with it a feeling of nervousness and most importantly, EXCITEMENT. I'm excited to share this adventure with all of you as it unfolds.