Sarah Spaulding Part 1 - Follow Your Gut

Sarah Spaulding is an ecologist with the USGS as well as an INSTAAR fellow. And more importantly, she’s someone who follows her gut—and nature’s gut, for that matter. Her work centers around the study of diatoms, algae that produce 50% of the air we breathe.

In this episode, Sarah and I discuss the importance of paying attention to the small things, whether that be the presence of diatoms in the environment or the instinct that something just isn’t quite right. Though the world values productivity, we often forget that in order to be productive we also have to be creative. Following the gut feeling that says maybe we need a break—a chance to reset and rethink—allows us to arrive more quickly at solutions, even when the world tells us we should just be focusing more on the problem instead.

Sarah and I discuss how rock-climbing, skate-skiing, and swimming help us defy the odds and be better problem-solvers and more productive workers. We also explore how being creative might actually be more difficult for some than the self-punishing work of supposed productivity.

Finally, a humble brag—I find out that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) require their scientists to use the website we built for Sarah, diatoms.org!