Danna Staaf is a marine biologist, science writer, novelist, artist, and educator. She holds a PhD in Squid Babies from Stanford and a BA in Biology from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She helped found the outreach program Squids4Kids, illustrated The Game of Science, and blogs at Science 2.0. She lives in San Jose with her husband, daughter, and cats.
Danna Staaf's Latest Posts
Halloween means time for gore! Blood, bones, brains and more! Severed fingers, severed toes, eyeballs and organs galore! But how accurate are all these loose bits of human anatomy in our front yards, costumes and punch bowls? Can we use that skeleton in the corner to bone up for a biology exam–or are we missing out on a tremendous opportunity to learn medical science?
There's nothing like role models for inspiring the scientific spirits of women, today and tomorrow! And Marie Curie isn't the only one out there–history is rife with lesser-known but no less fabulous female scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.
The Bay Area is a magnet for both artistic spirits and data freaks. So, although the inaugural Information is Beautiful award competition drew entries from around the world, perhaps it isn't too surprising that the ultimate prize was snagged by San Francisco design company Stamen.
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are animals worth seeing. With their bright white rumps and the rams' remarkable headgear, they bound and leap over seemingly impassable alpine terrain. But you may have a tricky time spotting one–there are only about four hundred in existence.
Allison Bruce has a wonderful job: she spends all day making pictures for scientists. Bruce started out in science herself, earning a chemistry degree from UC Davis. After college, she worked in an environmental lab, but she didn't enjoy it and turned to art classes "to keep from losing my mind," she says.
The first sniffles of flu season are upon us: a friend of mine was struck down, and couldn't join me in attending a science dialogue on Sunday night. This was darkly humorous, as the topic of the evening was pandemics.
In 2009, after West Valley College built its brand new biology building, a group of faculty stood in the natural history lab staring at a blank wall. "It's too empty," they agreed. "How about a mural?" suggested biology and genetics instructor Molly Schrey.
Tiffany Bozic, the first Artist-in-Residence at the California Academy of Sciences, named her first child after a rare bird found in Southeast Asia: Tesia olivea.
Facebook hired Frank Gehry to design its new building. Why? If the 'book wanted a green building (and who'd dare to build in the Bay Area without "a big emphasis on being eco-friendly"?), Gehry is a less than obvious choice.
Squid and their relatives–a group of animals known as cephalopods–have the world's best skin. And it's not because they moisturize, lack pimples, or tan without ever burning. It's because their skin is a canvas of endless possibilities.
When you think of digital art, Photoshop or a Wacom tablet may come to mind. And yes, drawing on a screen instead of a pad of paper is certainly one kind of digital art. But digital art can also happen on an entirely different level: art can be made with lines of code.
It may take an unusual muse to be deeply inspired by the body's insides. Artist Sara Nilsson possesses just such a muse–as well as the skill to create breathtakingly beautiful, anatomically accurate cross-sections of the human body with quilled paper.
While nearly all eyes are focused on Mars, two astophysicists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have been quietly staring at the sun instead.
Virtual avatars are one thing. But what about real bodies? Would identifying with another person's body make you behave more like that person? If the body belongs to a different gender, age, or ethnicity than yours, would you become more empathic to others in that group?
ISEF student projects can be just as esoteric as Nobel laureates' research. But this year, those of ISEF's student scientists lucky enough to be paired with professional artists will see their research translated into compelling and accessible posters for the public.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is showing, for just a few more short days, an exhibit called "The Utopian Impulse: Buckminster Fuller and the Bay Area." Fuller never actually lived in the Bay Area, but the exhibit's designers seem to think he would have liked it.
Traditional occidental painting techniques like watercolor or oil build an image from many layered brush strokes. You don't usually notice the individual strokes unless you stand very close. But in traditional oriental ink painting, called sumi-e, the brush strokes are the painting.
Ariel personified St. Elmo's Fire, the glow that can appear around ship masts and chimneys during a thunderstorm. Lacking a scientific explanation for the light, people in Shakespeare's time attributed it to the patron saint of sailors. Four hundred years later, we still don't completely understand how storms create such magnificent atmospheric phenomena.
I've always hated olives. I'd pick them off pizzas and out of salads. But in the last few weeks, I've actually started eating them on purpose. It could be because I'm pregnant, a condition which has me craving salt—and few foods are saltier than a nice olive.