A Teacher with a Passion

In nature we can always find art.

Whenever I explain to someone that I teach theatre and biology, the most common reaction is "Well that's a weird combination". I've always thought that I'm the one that's a bit strange. During my second burn, Caravansary, it was suggested that I take a look at the work of Earnst Haeckel. As soon as I got home I did a simple web search and I was in love. The concept for Zooplankton was born shortly after. 

Art and Science are One.

I think that we sometimes forget that art is born from within science. Fractals for instance surround us completely, and even as we dive into our own bodies, we can find them - from our veins to the shape of alveoli that are in our lungs that allow us to breathe, and our bodies to function so that our brains can see the art we are looking at. 

The reverse is true as well, as we look at the way paint is spread on a canvas I think about what the pigments were created out of and then the process of the painting entering our eyes and how the signals are transmitted through our brain and then are perceived.

I ponder the shapes that exist in the redwood trees in the forest and in the alluvial fans that surround the playa. They are in the ocean as organisms, and in the sky as clouds. We forget so often that the artists that we love so much like Leonardo Da Vinci and Salvador Dali relied so heavily on science and math just like this to create their masterpieces. 

So is the case for Earnst Haeckel, whom I was surprised to find out was one of the most promising biologists of his time. Mostly remembered for his incredible sketches, Haeckel coined the terms ecology and phyla, two general vocabulary words in a freshman biology class, yet, his name is absent from any secondary school curriculum. 

The more I learned about Haeckel and the more I fell in love with his art, the more I needed to bring something of his to the playa. 

The moment I saw his slide 'Cyrtoidea' I knew that I needed to build one. Something so naturally beautiful, and so artistic needed to be seen by so many more people. I named the project Zooplankton, after a close relative of the species, and dreamt of a lecture hall and art gallery that guests could enjoy day and night.

The Project

By day Zooplankton will be a lecture hall where people will come to learn about biology. Whether it be about the ocean ecology, climate change, or the forest, I will talk about topics that I find most interesting, and invite scientists at Burning Man to host their own lectures. Haeckel's art will also be on display inside Zooplankton, so that guests can enjoy his incredible sketches.

By night the Zooplankton will awe burners with a display of bioluminescence from its spikes. 

Just a week after this dream I called out for help and within the wonderful Portland Burning Man community I found like-minded people who were just as interested as I. We are now working to make this dream a reality. As of late September we are in the engineering and designing phase. Please join us!


A two-time burner, Becca is a secondary Theatre and Biology teacher who substitute teaches in the Portland metro area. She is also an entrepreneur who also co-owns a wildly popular business designing and creating bow ties for cats. In her spare time (if there is any) she works backstage as a lighting designer and stage manager. She is rarely found without at least one camera in tow.

Zooplankton will be her form of 'Radical Self Expression', the fifth principle of Burning Man in 2015, her third burn.

The crazy lady with the dream