In another life pt.3

October 08, 2021

Three years later and with a many new faces in the lab, we thought we would revisit the previous “In another life” post! Here is what we would have done, in another life:

Kacie Ring

In another life...
As most 20 something PhD students, I find myself experiencing an existential crisis about every 5 days. Within these WTF am I doing moments my mind tends to wander and fantasize about another potential career paths. Similarly to the movies depicting timelines in alternate universes, below are Kacie’s alternate timelines in the debut of in another life.

Alternate timeline 1: Child paleontologist

I was a nature lover right out of the womb and by the time I gained cognition, I was immediately fascinated by dinosaurs, fossils, and anything scaley. Being dead set on my aspirations to be a paleontologist, I began to gather and consume resources like nat geo magazines, land before time (on VHS of course), Jurassic Park, rollie pollie colonies, and build it yourself fossil sets. I begged my parents for light weight button downs and cargo pants that could magically turn into shorts with a swift zip. Ultimately, I wanted to emulate my fictional childhood hero, Dr. Ellie Sattler, the badass female paleobotanist in Jurassic Park. Does anyone remember the scene where she resuscitates a triceratops???? Swoon!

Every aspect of the gig (or what was portrayed on TV) excited me. Uncovering amazing specimens and writing history as I went along, I would be documenting evolution right below my feet!! While I ultimately did not pursue my dream of paleontology, I sporadically catch myself daydreaming, imagining myself at an excavation site in my full cargo suit (>10 pockets) delicately brushing dust off ginormous bones. It’s that easy right?

Alternative timeline 2: Hostess with the mostess

Taking a sharp 180 from timeline 1, we arrive in alternate timeline 2. Picture this, you arrive to my house and all your favorite people are there along with a gaggle of faces you’ve never seen before. Your senses are delightfully overwhelmed by the sounds of booming laughter, perfectly curated music, and a diversity of smells oozing from the kitchen. That smelly ooze is the 5- course meal you will be consuming shortly, of which changes weekly. Do NOT forget the wine, cocktails, and mocktails to pair.

In another life, I would curate dinner parties for my community! A year of isolation illuminated the importance of community, friendship, and enjoying the present moment. Nothing locks you into the present moment quite like eating something that knocks your socks off (remove your shoes at the door please ;-) ). Through the power of my hosting magic, an unfamiliar face will most likely become a new friend, collaborator, or potentially the love of your life!!! Swoon! Again! Ideally, it would be farm-to-table vibes and I would grow the produce on my mini-farm, but I haven’t quite nailed down those logistics in my imagination yet... TBD.

Alternate timeline 3: Viking queen

I would say this is another 180 from alternate timeline 2, but then we would end up 360 back in timeline 1... Let’s split the difference and call it 90, welcome to alternate timeline 3. Timeline 3 is unorthodox, we are going to time travel back to the 13th century, landing in Birka, Sweden, the hub of an ancient Viking settlement (an ode to my Scandinavian roots). What are you imagining? A bunch of fur-adorned burly men at sea?? THINK. AGAIN. Recent archeological findings suggests that women, yes women, played a pivotal role in combat during the era of Scandinavian Vikings. Within one of the most extensive Viking burial grounds lay an impressive chamber grave intended for warriors that rose to the highest ranks. Who occupies this grave you ask? A woman adorned with “a lavish array of grave goods” and horse skeletons at her feet. Sheesh! What a baddie.

Physical archeological evidence coupled with common Viking folklore suggest that women, or “shield-maidens,” commonly fought alongside their male counterparts (or less-thans). So in another life (time traveling edition), I am THE fearless female Viking commander, known for my strength and unparalleled skill in battle. Enemy men tremble at the site of my longship equipped with a repertoire of axes, swords, and my masterfully trained army. Y’all better stay on my good side! ;)


Caitlin Nordheim

In another life, I would be an environmental educator for elementary schools. I love being surrounded by children’s contagious enthusiasm, creativity, and watching them take in the world around them. I would emphasize curricula combining art and science, and spend my days hiking while singing about ecosystems, crafting with wildlife track molds, and painting birdhouses. I would also emphasize projects in the community that would help local wildlife thrive that anyone can partake in, like pollinator gardens. Of course, I would incorporate lots of pond adventures and continue to fawn over frogs- I cannot imagine a life without a love of frogs!


Lulu Velazquez

In another life...

Never did I think I would say these words, but if I had my pick of another life, I would choose to be born a male in early 1900s America. Though the Great Depression soon took its toll on the world, there was one American dream that rose through it all and was still realized. Talent, passion, and drive transformed the field of animation from gimmicks and gags to what we know and love today – stories and characters so realistic we can’t help but feel connected to them. So, if presented with the opportunity, this is where my mind would love to spend its hours. Working hard with Walt and his crew of 9 Old Men to create the very stories that changed my real life for the better. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed growing up with these characters as friends, and there were no greater mentors either. Copper and Todd taught me acceptance. Pinocchio taught me to trust and showed me the meaning of a conscience. And Dumbo, well, his weird, big ears-turned-wings never failed to inspire. But still, to create is to become, and these early days of animation cinema would be my dream way of exploring my artistic self. Why did I choose science? Well, I don’t think these fields are as different as they may appear. The foundations are essentially the same. Both require idea and theory development, testing, trial and error, adaptation, use of new tools and tech, intense collaboration, and a deep desire to contribute and connect to humanity. So, until I can get my hands on an infinity time stone, I will continue to happily, and gratefully, live my life with my lab notebook in one hand and my sketchbook in the other.


Sam Sambado

In another life...

I would ideally become involved in agriculture, but I guess that’s where my life began and I actively took a hard turn. I grew up in ag community & most people I knew growing up - including my own family - was involved in ag. I don’t think I need to emphasize the importance of food (90% of my life is motivated by good food), but I’m interested in all the other aspects of our food system.

The apple that is carelessly squished in your bag required a lot of time, energy, and policy. Especially in CA there is a lot of good & bananaland policies that go into food production. Water is scarce, especially in the Central Valley, but you didn’t need to read up on recent HR bills to know that. You just had to look at all the bumper stickers & homemade signs on the I-5 and around people’s property claiming individual views on the water war. [[ personally, day 0 of H20 is what I freak out about the most ]] But it’s not just the abiotic factors that go into your produce it’s also human labor.  That humans should be treated humanely. And what about land fragmentation and environmental sustainability involved in ag? Or what about growing crops that are actually nutritious, or  genetically modifying crops (fyi, all crops are GMO at this point) to be suited for a rapidly changing and extreme environment? Or do we continue to harvest crops that are water and labor intensive to meet the economic needs of struggling farming communities? And don’t even get me started on plant pathogen dynamics which ARE SO COOL. So yeah, maybe in the next or later life I will go back to ag (after swearing if off my entire childhood).