Ask Me A Chemistry Question


How I finally started meditating

The Emissary Movie

My Treadmill Desk!


I teach college chemistry and write in Door County, Wisconsin. I will answer, (when I have time, and when they are not obvious requests to do someone's homework problems), chemistry questions on my website, and write about plant molecules, synesthesia, and health on my blog at

I live with my beloved inventor husband and a large, fluctuating number of cats. I have a PhD in medicinal chemistry as well as degrees in biology and chemistry, from the University of Utah. I wrote a book called Herbs Demystified, which focuses on the molecules in plants that are popularly consumed as supplements, and the mechanisms of what these molecules do in the body, for better or worse.

Besides writing and teaching, I play a Dusty Strings lever harp, tame many feral cats, practice amateur astronomy, am an avid runner, meditate and practice yoga daily. I have a neurological condition called synesthesia, the exploration of which has inspired a deep interest in brain science.

I spend a lot of time helping my polymath husband Tim Erskine run three businesses (to manage these impressive feats he has sacrificed the portion of his brain that is conscious of time, leaving that job to me) which always involves my learning new things, like how to film a movie, and we have a ton of fun together. AND he loves cats. Who could ask for more?

We sell his software through Code Zebra, he has over 50 patents, mostly in medical devices, which we license through Erskine Medical. Finally, we have a creative business, Night Sky Ventures, which is in the very slow process of birthing, we hope, an art gallery, a recording studio, and a movie studio. Lest you find all this intimidating I will say that most of my time is spent, honestly, cleaning litter boxes. Really. It helps if you sing a few bars of the National Geographic theme song, which makes me feel more adventurous when digging somehow. Try it!

We are working on finishing up our full length movie, the Emissary, which I am now turning into a novel. Local artist Ram Rojas has agreed to do illustrations, I am so honored! This novel writing scares the crap out of me as I normally write only technical nonfiction. I have never even written a short story before. I have to make stuff up, which is disorienting but really fun. I just try to remember what my grandmother told me. She was also an obsessive writer and literature professor. She said good stories are lies that are true. I am lucky to have the movie script in front of me thanks to Tim, too. It's training wheels for story writing, I tell myself.

I am working on two other books: one is a memoir concerning my synesthesia, and the techniques I have learned to manage anxiety, and the other book is an Herbs Demystified style book concerning plants of Door County, which I hope will help fund our local Land Trust.