We had the good fortune of connecting with Sula Vanderplank and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sula, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
“Some people follow their dreams, others hunt them down and beat them mercilessly into submission” Neil Kendall. I love this quote because it speaks to the importance of tenacity. It reminds me that I don’t have to be the person that is the most naturally gifted, just the one that works the hardest and never gives up. It also reminds me that life is short and I should chase my dreams with all my might.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I like to think that I offer very carefully tailored and meaningful solutions to conservation challenges. Although I’m sometimes classified as a consultant, I’m proud to only accept contracts that are truly meaningful to me, generally those that have a significant impact to conservation and/or research. I very rarely accept work that does not result in a scientific, peer-reviewed publication, and I have had fantastic mentors over the many years that I have studied for this career. My main strength is my network of stellar professionals in the Peninsular California region, and I feel very lucky to work with people who make it easier to get out of bed in the morning with their excellence and generosity of knowledge and experience.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
For days out I recommend the Maritime Museum, the Birch Aquarium, the San Diego Natural History Museum, and the San Diego Zoo Global and Wild Animal Park. For regional science and conservation I recommend the programs of the International Community Foundation and the Climate Science Alliance too. I love the Barefoot Bar on vacation island for an escape from city life…. I also really enjoy a bonfire at the bay and in summer, snorkeling at the marine room and perhaps even renting a boat for the afternoon on mission bay. I recommend Splash Wine Lounge for some excellent wines that embrace diversity and inclusion, and the Grass Skirt in Pacific Beach for top notch Tiki. For the best local sandwiches, don’t miss the dock house deli. For nature art I favor local artist and researcher ‘DaHoodScientist’ – now available online through RedBubble.com. In non-COVID times I would definitely recommend crossing the border into Baja California for the many wonderful things that it has to offer, from the wine valley to the surf spots, and the world-class cuisine of Ensenada. While we’re sheltering in place I recommend local restaurants such as JV’s Mexican food, Ramen Ryoma and Orient Thai Orient Cafe. Best natural areas? Mission trails, Famosa Slough, Borderlands State Park and Cabrillo National monument. For local whale watching and fishing I recommend Seaforth Landing out of Mission Bay (with free parking).
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This has been a hard year, but the blows were softened by amazing acts of kindness from esteemed colleagues like Alex Warneke of the Climate Science Alliance, Drew Talley of the University of San Diego, and Exequiel Ezcurra, my Ph.D. mentor and academic father.