“When I was little I used to be deathly afraid of spiders and I hated them, I couldn't stand them. I had a science book that had a picture of a spider and I would cover over it. Then one day I was out in the backyard and there was a jeweled orbweaver. It’s a spiky little red spider and it looked like a jewel. They don't look like spiders, they’re just pretty. I looked at her and thought, this spider is cool. I would hang out with her and talk to her and give her bugs and stuff. I think the bugs I found were all dead so it didn't actually help her, but I was trying. I realized, I like this spider, and if I'd like spiders I’d get to see things that I like all the time. They're everywhere and it started as my connection to nature.
Before then I'd always thought of nature as deer and wolves and big stuff that lives ‘out there’ in the forest where you can't go. But once I started to realize that I really like spiders, I could connect to nature in my house and in the suburbs and in the city and have this different relationship to nature. That really got me interested in nature because it was something that everyone has access to.”
How do you think science communication can ease things like fears of spiders?
“One thing the humanities could do is show the things that live among us as not less than the things that live apart from us, and express an appreciation for what's common. I think that's something that we could definitely work on and show, ‘Hey, look, here's science about the stuff that's here that you can connect to. Here's information about the pigeon that lives down the street. Or some science that we've done on this house fly. You can connect to that. Here's data on this thing right there’. Science is all around you. The humanities can use that to ease people into relating to science.”