Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor is a communications manager at the California Academy of Sciences, where she has the unique privilege of working alongside a herd of scientists, colony of penguins and swarms of research specimens. A lifelong science and nature enthusiast, she built insect collections and solar-powered cars through high school before earning a BA in human development at UC San Diego, and an MA in strategic public relations at USC. In 4+ years at the Academy, she has discovered the importance of ants, the weight of a biodiversity map, and the value of a species survival program, and now sees the natural world in an entirely new light. She is also a jeweler, foodie, and newly-minted diver.
Zeray Alemseged preparing Selam fossil

New Clues to Our Ancestors’ Mobility

Australopithecus afarensis (the species of the well-known “Lucy” skeleton) was an upright walking species, but the question of whether it also spent much of its time in trees has been hotly debated for 30+ years, partly because a complete set of A. afarensis shoulder blades has never before been available for study.

Southern sea otter

The State of California’s Sea Otters

Southern sea otters are local icons, gracing a plethora of souvenirs, murals and postcards throughout central and northern California. With a face like that, it’s easy to see why. But sea otters themselves are not so plentiful. In honor of Sea Otter Awareness Week at the end of September, take a closer look at what’s behind that furry façade.

Ocean Beach, photographed by Max Braun

Plan an Ocean-Friendly Staycation

In the spirit of World Oceans Day last week, I decided to research vacation ideas that offer a chance to actually help out the ocean. The goal was to seek out personal ocean interactions that support conservation efforts either directly or at least financially. String a few of these Bay Area activities together, and you've got yourself an ocean-friendly staycation.

Nature's gopher control, photographed in Bolinas by Ryan DiGaudio.

Heron Spotting in Golden Gate Park

It's prime time for Great Blue Heron viewing at Golden Gate Park's Stow Lake. Visit in the next couple of weeks to see newly-hatched chicks learning to fly. Heron chicks hatch from eggs that are slightly bigger than a chicken’s and grow to full size in just 10-12 weeks.

Cow grazing

Grazing a New Trail

In California's arid San Joaquin Valley, scientists propose a novel approach to managing the landscape to benefit the threatened lizards, kangaroo rats, and squirrels who call it home. Livestock grazing, often demonized in the conservation world, can actually help create livable habitat for smaller creatures when well-managed.

Whale skull on beach

One Whale’s Tale

A rooftop is a long way from the deep blue sea, so when I learned that the skull of a juvenile minke whale was resting atop the California Academy of Sciences' living roof, my curiosity was piqued.