I have been drawing cartoons and enjoying the diversity of living things since childhood. I did my PhD research on agonistic behavior in jumping spiders at the University of California, Berkeley. After that, I realized I was happy to be finished with the logistics and uncertainties of research, and decided I was more interested in the presentation of information — so I have been teaching at the college level, almost every year since then.
I started drawing cartoon handouts for my general-biology students in graduate school. In my first teaching job and for many years afterward, I drew cartoons with markers on “overhead transparencies”. With the advent of PowerPoint, I added scans of my drawings to my slides. In 2012 I bought a Samsung (Windows) slate, followed by other Samsung devices, and since then my art has been almost exclusively digital. A few years later, I created a font from my own handwriting using TypeTool.
For several years my creative impulse was focused on web design and development; I worked for a year programming online games, and later designed the Flash-based interactives at Biology in Motion. In recent years though, my main focus has been teaching and cartooning.
I’ve taught courses in animal behavior, botany, general biology, and physiology, but my current bread-and-butter includes a human anatomy lecture and human anatomy lab. I also dissect cadavers for the anatomy lab, which is a lot more fun than it sounds.
Although human anatomy takes center stage at the moment, I’ve drawn cartoons for all of my courses, and I will share some from every topic. I’ve also drawn a few for colleagues in endocrinology and reproductive biology. Since 2014, I’ve also been contributing one-page comic strips on the research of my colleagues, in our semiannual department newsletter.
Around 2013, I realized that cartooning the life sciences is not just a hobby, but a primary interest. It’s exploratory, it never ends, and it’s central to who I am — analogous to how many of my colleagues view their research program. And there’s a happy circle between teaching, generating new cartoon ideas, and using them in my lectures.