Month: February 2019

Becoming a Bird

I came to Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar-Teacher-Artist, and all three paths have been full of discovery. My topic is the human-bird myths that are found in cultures around the world, and that have inspired my own sculptures; I wanted to see how this theme played out in Taiwan’s rich cultural mix. My goal was to collect images and stories, then work toward sharing knowledge visually and linking this imagery with real birds and environmental issues today. I pursued my visual research from the day I arrived in Taipei, looking around me for examples of human-bird connections in diverse aspects of life in Taiwan. I found them in traditional and contemporary settings, in temples, museums, malls, and movies. As an intuitive artist-researcher, I visited as many sites as I could, took photos, and sketched on an iPad. In the streets of Taipei, I immediately noticed posters that show the ageless human urge to fly like a bird and communicate with worlds beyond our own. Current films and fantasies, like Return of the Condor Heroes and Harry Potter, often feature winged humans, or magical individuals with bird companions, who may use their super-human talents for good or evil. The human-bird imagery

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Why Taiwan? Investigating the Biogeography of Flatfishes from Their Evolutionary Hotspot

     A key part of any Fulbright Taiwan application is “Why Taiwan?” Why does an applicant want to come to Taiwan and why is it necessary to come to Taiwan for the proposed work? For many participants in the Fulbright program, there are clear connections as part of historical, political and cultural study. As a biological scientist with a background of studying evolution in temperate to Arctic fishes, how did my research bring me to Taiwan?      Flatfishes, the subject of my Fulbright fellowship, are a striking group of fishes with a distinct body plan. In the more than 850 species of flatfishes, both eyes are found on the same side of the head (Figure 1). These are iconic fishes of the Northern Hemisphere. Halibut and flounder are well known to the general public. Commercial and personal fishing efforts target these fishes in the cool waters of North America, Europe and Asia. However, most flatfishes are actually quite small and they may be found circumglobally in marine waters (Figure 2). Not restricted to near-shore marine habitats, flatfishes may be found from the deep sea to freshwaters from the tropics to the poles. Scientific study, though, has focused on

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