You decided to read an 'About' page. Interesting.
Pen Sapiens is a portfolio, place for potential collaborations, and a dumping ground for ideas that have escaped the limbo of my to-do list. There are cartoons & comics, more time-consuming art, news & opinion pieces, and anything tenuously science-y. Have a look around, a read, and send me an email if you can think of someway we can work together. Thanks for visiting.
The dinoyears. I loved me some dinosaurs. Dinos seem to be a kind of gateway animal towards learning and being curious about everything else. I'm not sure why kids seem to be universally enamoured by these reptiles — maybe kids just recognise dinosaurs for the very capable predators they were, which keeps the kids on their toes, and they like the thrill. I'm not sure.
Girls and drawing. I can't remember much else from this period. I also picked up the bass guitar. Probably because girls.
Science. These are my final years at school when I dropped art and picked up biology and chemistry. I have memories of talking people's ears off about science. I was an enthusiastic, but mediocre, academic performer. The subtleties of success and real understanding eluded me. Discovered writing in class.
Began university. Learnt a lot, but was still going through the motions, and didn't properly contemplate my future, interests, or existence.
Second year of university. Discovered Carl Sagan, Dawkins, and other science communicators that elevated my thinking many-fold. It was around now that I decided I wanted to be a science communicator — author, documentary host, artist, whatever — and get everyone else as excited about skepticism, science, and inquiry as I was. It was also around now that I decided to stop using mnemonics and superficial methods for learning, and actually worked to understand and apply the knowledge for what it was worth. Began trying at life. Got my first illustration published in the Herpetological Review. Also now was when I began volunteering (feeding spiders) and got given my own research experiment with (then Dr., now Assist. Prof.) Shawn Wilder.
Should have graduated, but failed maths. Only took 2 subjects for a whole year. Finally discovered, through the insight of lecturers, friends, and superiors, that my writing was abysmal. Took great efforts to figure out why and fixed it, somewhat. Attended my first conference (Entomology and Arachnology) in Hobart, did a brief talk, and presented a poster.
Did an Honours degree and learnt much about science, research, literature, writing, structure, coherence, perseverance, and lots of other useful lessons. Afterwards I continued doing work as a research assistant. This was nice, but the prospects of a career in research were unclear, which was off-putting. Got back into the bass guitar and began first band as an adult 'Grazing Hawley' — we played a few years at the annual Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival.
Continued to work in science. Got my first peer-reviewed paper published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS ONE). Decided to pursue earlier dreams of communicating, rather than prospecting for new discoveries. Enrolled in TAFE to learn journalism, interview skills, editing, and other things that seemed useful. Began writing a lot. Graduated from TAFE. Presented a poster at my first international conference (International Society for Behavioural Ecology), in New York. Helped out and began internships with Sydney University, Think Inc., and CSIRO. Began this blog.
Continued working with CSIRO. Began full-time work in writing. Took on many art commissions. Got my second peer-reviewed paper published, this time in Behavioral Ecology. Got an article published in 2015 Best Australian Science Writing. Started learning as much as possible. Stopped looking solely to science for meaning, and began seeking it in art, fiction, history, and people.