MEET THE LADY CRUSHER
Jessi is a conservation biologist, jazz saxophonist, and (of course) lady crusher who grew up in southeastern Washington and came to NYC to work at The New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) and start a PhD program through CUNY + NYBG.
How did you discover climbing?
A friend in undergrad introduced me to it, then I spent a few months going to the gym regularly right after I moved to New York. When I started grad school, I stopped climbing, but about a year ago picked up again and have been regularly spending time at the gym and getting outside as much as possible (though never as much as I would like!)
What do you love most about climbing with women?
I find it really inspiring to see lady friends kicking ass. It's also usually a really fun and relaxed hang.
What's a typical day in the life of a conservation biologist?
It's varied, and I'm not sure I ever have typical days. Many days are some combination of writing up my research or applying for grants, extracting DNA, writing computer codes, examining specimens, and analyzing data. I do a lot of field work too, and a typical field day starts at 5 or 6 am, hiking eight to 24 to look for rare species, then coming back to wherever I'm staying and organizing specimens and data, then repeating. I also teach quite a bit, whether it's leading nature walks for the general public or teaching a class at a University.
How has climbing influenced your work? How has your work influenced your climbing?
I mostly study lichens, symbiotic organisms that consist of an algae and a fungus (they're kind of like corals on land), and many of them grow on rocks. When I'm out collecting and studying lichens I now get distracted by the rocks, not just for climbing purposes, but also because I've become more curious about the underlying geology. Once I wrap up my current research I'm planning on designing a study to integrate lichens and climbing.
What's your favorite crag snack?
Cheese. No question.
What's your superpower?
Getting sh*t done. Also, crocheting baby hats (though maybe that falls into the first category).
Any words of advice for women + girls just getting into climbing?
Climb for the joy and exhilaration of it, and don't worry how you look or compare to other climbers.
So true! The Women's Climbing Festi is just a few weeks away. Stay tuned for a guest post from Jessi about her experience!