Jennifer Skene

Jennifer Skene develops curriculum on climate change and ocean sciences at the Lawrence Hall of Science and teaches biology and science communication at Mills College and the University of California Berkeley. She has a degree in biology from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from UC Berkeley. She started working with QUEST in 2008 as an intern. She has written for the Berkeley Science Review and the UC Museum of Paleontology’s Understanding Evolution and Understanding Science websites.
Will gray wolves return to California? Photo: MacNeil Lyons, National Park Service/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region.

California’s Gray Wolves

When a gray wolf wearing a GPS collar crossed from Oregon into California in December, it was the first wild gray wolf to tread on California soil since the 1920s. It is debatable whether this lone wolf is a sign of things to come, but if wolves return to California, their role in the ecosystem will be different than it was in times past.

Swapping scions at a California Rare Fruit Growers Scion Exchange. Photo: terriem.

Homegrown Fruit in the New Year

Is your new year’s resolution to eat more fruits and veggies? Or eat more local produce? You can do both at once by growing your own fruit—you can’t get more local than fruit you harvest in your own backyard.

It takes a lot of work to grow perfect-looking Christmas trees. Photo: capn madd matt.

O Perfect Christmas Tree

The Berkeley students from the Forestry Club described their trees as “free range,” in contrast to trees from Christmas tree farms, which are painstakingly grown to be perfect.

See sea stars in the intertidal during an upcoming super-low tide.

Tidepooling Trip Planner

QUEST blogger Andrew Alden’s recent post about Bay Area Tides got me thinking about pulling on my rubber boots and heading out to the intertidal during an upcoming low tide. In the next few weeks, we’ll get some really low tides during daylight hours—a great opportunity to see the organisms that live on the narrow edge between the land and the ocean.

The sweet potatoes in this pie originated in the New World. Photo: paul goyette.

You Say Sweet Potato, I Say New World

As you fill your grocery cart with food for Thanksgiving, pause for a minute and think about where that food came from. I don’t mean is it local or organic or hormone/pesticide /gluten-free—I mean is it Old World or New World? On what continent did that food evolve?

The eucalyptus grove on the Berkeley campus. Photo: John-Morgan.

Eucalyptus: Fuel for Fire

Twenty years ago this week, a fire ripped through the Oakland and Berkeley hills, taking 25 lives and burning more than 3,000 homes. Eucalyptus trees, leaf litter, and long peels of bark were fuel for the fire.

Thousands of red abalone washed up on the Sonoma coast after a phytoplankton bloom turned the waters red—and toxic. Photo: loarie.

Red Tide Rising: Harmful Phytoplankton Blooms

About a month ago, thousands of abalone and other invertebrates washed up along the Sonoma coast, killed by what people thought was probably a red tide, a.k.a. a harmful algal bloom. An interdisciplinary team of researchers banded together to find out what was going on.

Lake Tahoe may hold mysteries. Photo: Santappa.

Rumors and Truth in Lake Tahoe

A few weeks ago, scuba divers in Lake Tahoe found the body of a man who had drowned in the lake 17 years ago. Still in its wetsuit, the body was very well preserved. Because the water in this high alpine lake is so cold, decomposition is very slow. This fact has spawned rumors, the most famous of which involves Jacques Cousteau and still makes me shudder, years after I first heard it.