Favorite plant:

I love sycamore trees for the elegant shape of their limbs, the subtle shades of their mottled bark, and the way that the bone-white branches at the very top catch sunlight. I also love them because they prefer to grow with their feet in water, so seeing them during a walk through the woods is always a welcome sight. It means there’s something interesting to explore up ahead.

Sycamore tree (π˜—π˜­π˜’π˜΅π˜’π˜―π˜Άπ˜΄ 𝘰𝘀𝘀π˜ͺπ˜₯𝘦𝘯𝘡𝘒𝘭π˜ͺ𝘴).

Favorite thing to do when not working:

Long, slow observational walks through the woods, mountains, marshes, desert. If not on foot, then by four-wheel drive!

Off-roading in the Southwest.

Role model:

My mother. As a single mother she earned a master’s and doctorate degree while working and raising her children. She also maintains an effervescent curiosity and sensitivity towards the world that influenced my own trajectory in blending art and science.

Sarai’s mother, Dr. Victoria Carter.

Favorite book:

The most thumbed, torn, and dog-eared books in my library are Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (semi-autobiographical magical realism from the best sci-fi author), and The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (metaphysical, psychological, and sensual – the book is so much richer and deeper in comparison to the movie).

Music that instantly puts Sarai in a good mood:

Afrobeat music! Especially 1960s-70s High Life music from Ghana and Nigeria. It’s impossible to stay still when you hear it.

Spring woods.

Sarai is originally from:

I grew up in the muddy and the misty hills of Appalachian Ohio.

Appalachian Ohio.

Special talent:

I am a grade A vintage clothing hunter! I think of thrift stores as contemporary museums of local culture and find them to be a great snapshot of the character of a place. I would love to see people in the United States embrace reuse and repair as a primary mode of consumption, including fashion.

Most memorable experience in nature:

While volunteering with Moehau Environment Group on the Coromandel Peninsula in Aotearoa New Zealand (2014), I got to cradle a wild brown kiwi in my arms while her stats were taken. She fell asleep and I could have happily held her all day, she was so light, soft, and warm. The field work of kiwi conservation is remote, steep, difficult, and constant. Seeing them at close range and holding one truly made every minute of it worthwhile.

Sarai holding a wild brown kiwi (𝘈𝘱𝘡𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘹 𝘒𝘢𝘴𝘡𝘳𝘒𝘭π˜ͺ𝘴).

Favorite food:

It’s a hot summer day here in Charleston, so I am thinking about Mexican paletas! Guava or honeydew or avocado lime, por favor.

Further Reading

Biohabitats receives ASLA’s highest honor
Meet Water Resources Engineer Emily Beacham
Meet Landscape Designer Emma Podietz
Get to Know Ecologist Caroline Hildebrand
Get to know Water Resources Engineer Nate Wadley

More From This Author

E+D Podcast with Keith Bowers: The state of ecology and design in landscape architecture
Meet Senior Engineer Scott Wallace
Meet Water Resources Engineer Emily Beacham
Get to know Water Resources Engineer Nate Wadley
Get to know Jensen Hufnagel, Operations Assistant