My career as a scientist probably started around age three or four, when my grandfather took me on walks back in Switzerland, telling me stories of hawks and teaching me to sit still so as to spot the rats at the local dump! Those lessons stayed with me, and for many years I would watch birds without binoculars.
I am interested in many aspects of the natural world, from the big - animals, plants, and the places they occur - to the tiny - the molecules that are the building blocks of life. Organic chemistry became my specialty, and I spent a lot of time researching carotenoids, the colourful pigments of carrots, tomatoes, and in my case, halobacteria. Some have a role in cell walls, and others serve as the bling of flamingos. My Ph.D. subject was a natural springboard into biology, and eventually I took a course in ornithology. Since then I birded (with a pair of binoculars) wherever I went, from the Swiss Alps to the English Coast, the Fraser and Squamish estuaries, and now the North Coast.