Natural Habitats: Helen Cheng & Thom Young-Bayer

In this week's episode, we bring you two stories of natural habitats, from a city girl's first experience in the wilderness to an ecologist's decision to leave science.

Part 1: Born and raised in Brooklyn, naturalist Helen Cheng leaves the comfort of the city to venture out into the field.

Helen Cheng is once a city-dweller turned solitude-seeking naturalist. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Helen’s journey took her from the big city to the coasts of the New England, studying horseshoe crabs and receiving her M.S. in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire. Interested in how management plays a role in research, she worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow. As an interdisciplinary marine biologist, Helen works on a variety of projects involving research, education and outreach, and science communication. Whenever she gets a free moment, Helen enjoys eating new and delicious foods around the city, hiking in the mountains, swimming in the ocean, and singing and playing acoustic guitar.

Part 2: Ecologist Thom Young-Bayer makes the unthinkable decision to leave science after his life changes course.

Thom Young-Bayer’s affinity for the outdoors developed into a brief career as an ecologist, during which he worked as a tropical forest guide, studied coral reef fish and kelp forests, and traveled to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Since then, he has managed two organic farms, worked on a commercial fishing vessel, sailed across the Pacific using celestial navigation, and worked as the First Mate of a Maine windjammer. He maintains his tenuous grip on sanity with open water swimming, ultra-marathon running, and classical piano. He lives with his wife, Skylar, and their two dogs in Maine.