Lab Girl: 06/23/16
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren is a memoir about being a botanist and a woman in a male dominated field. Jahren weaves together stories of her life with observation about plants and trees.
Jahren has studied at the University of Minnesota, Berkeley, and worked at Georgia State, Johns Hopkins, and is currently at the University of Hawaii. Besides her research, her one constant has been her lab partner, Bill, a man she "didn't so much meet" as "identify" (p. 127).
I was mostly reading for the botany, for the interesting, unusual, or memorable stories of what makes plants tick. Much of the book though is dedicated to Jahren's working relationship and friendship with Bill.
Through thick and thin, including having no budget and being homeless, Bill has continued working along side Jahren. I'm not sure what his motivation is for sticking around.
There's a lot of brutal honesty about how tough research is, not the getting it done, but the finding the budget, the time for personal care and even eating, in the constant push to show progress, get results, apply for grants, etc.
But ultimately from this book I wanted more about plants. It's in the chapters about plants and trees that Jahren's writing comes alive. She's clearly passionate about her field.