Showing posts from April, 2017

Diatom of the Month: April 2017 - Staurosirella pinnata

by Jennifer Fitchett*
At very high altitudes and relatively high latitude (~30°S), the eastern Lesotho highlands comprise am ecologically restricted, yet biologically diverse, environment for plant growth. The terrestrial vegetation is described as the Drakensberg Alpine Centre, hosting a considerable number of endemic montane to alpine species. This region of South Africa is dotted by numerous small tarns (lakes) and wetlands, each host to thriving communities of largely cosmopolitan diatom species. Of these, a very common taxa, Staurosirella pinnata (Ehrenberg), has an interesting story to tell.

Fig. 1. Photographs of Mafadi summit, with the white diatomite outcrops  visible in the foreground.

Fig. 2. A photograph of a typical microscope slide of diatoms from Mafadi Summit, indicating a predominance of Staurosirella pinnata and Fragilaria construens.
At one of the highest summits of eastern Lesotho, and the highest point of bordering South Africa, Mafadi Summit represents the contempora…

Mom in the Marsh

The highest compliment anyone can give me is to comment on how similar I am to my mother. My mom is the most amazing woman I know and I love when people joke about us being twins or sisters. But, it is not just her appearance I admire; I aspire to have her work ethic, perseverance, and independence. I owe a lot of who I am today to my mother.
Recently, I have been thinking about why I became a scientist and how I have been able to make it this far. An article just came out that found by the time girls reach the age of six they already have negative beliefs about female intelligence. I was surprised by this finding because I can only remember one instance where I felt singled out or intellectually inferior because I am a woman. I never really thought I was special or overcoming a gender disadvantage as I settled into science. After reading about how young girls are dissuaded from activities that require brilliance as opposed to hard work and how it might prevent some young women from …