Maybe it has something to do with the excessive amounts of matching and memory games I played as a tot. Or why flash cards have always been a go-to study aid (even for remembering the names of students in lab sections I taught in grad school).
I like knowing names. I like using names. Whether it’s a wildflower I spot on a nature walk or a person I bump into at a Science Café. And it kills me when I know a name, but can’t recall it. Or worse yet, when I use the wrong name.
It could also just be a peculiarity associated with my training as a biologist, particularly as an entomologist. I spent hours in class, in the field, at the microscope learning and committing so many insect names to memory.
I suspect I’m not the only biologist to be obsessed with names. Ok, I KNOW this to be the case. Our fearless leader Rob Dunn wrote a book about humanity’s quest to discover, classify and name every living thing in our natural world. And then there are the taxonomists who REALLY get a kick out of naming things, particularly assigning a ‘celebronym’ or two – just check out news stories about the Gaga fern or the bootylicious Beyonce horse fly?
With Your Wild Life’s focus on citizen microbiology (Belly Button Biodiversity, Wild Life of Our Homes), this name-obsessed entomologist has had to get comfortable with a whole new suite of names, those of the microbes living on us, in us, and around us.