Fusing biology, ecology, and history to serve innovation.


“…My research into beargrass isn’t only about the plant. It’s about how people acquire and express multivariate knowledge about their environment. If the pilot study turns up interesting results, I’m confident other wild and domesticated plants exist that are a gateway to culturally vital knowledge….Surgery means this much anticipated fieldwork will go on without me. Instead, I must sit and wait for the data. This study design is new for me in that it includes people, not only trees and other plants. I’ve come to realize that if my own sensory experience with something as seemingly immutable as gravity is altered by injury, that people can hold different perceptions of what appears to be the same phenomenon. Perceptual differences would alter their reported observations of a plant and its habitat.

This insight means I can’t understand the natural and cultural history of beargrass without learning from people who harvest it. So the study includes weavers who represent different basketry traditions and tribal affiliations. What factors influence their choices? I don’t want to perpetuate the mistake imposed on me by the punchboard dexterity test. That diagnostic frustrates me still, nearly twenty years later.  Sampling instruments can omit a variable that somebody with different, potentially relevant knowledge knows is significant.”

(Excerpt from Chapter 12 Patchwork Labyrinth: a portrait of neuroplasticity)

For a list of Susan’s publications, click here.