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Seduced By Seaweeds

April 12th, 2016

Art & Science Presented By: Dr. Stacy Krueger-Hadfield, Evolutionary Ecologist, Biology Professor at University of Alabama Birmingham, Biology Department, Adjunct Faculty with the College of Charleston, Graduate Marine Biology Program, and active science communicator.

Who knew algae could bring about so much emotion! The “Seduced by Seaweeds in the 21st Century” Cultivate workshop was led by Dr. Stacey Kruger-Hadfield a former Postdoctoral Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the College of Charleston. Dr. Kruger-Hadfield served as both a scientist and artist as she discussed her interest in seaweeds and her herbarium collection (collection of seaweed presses). Participants were given a scientific history lesson on seaweed presses from Victorian times to the present day as well as the ecological and economic impacts of sea algae. Attention was given to the invasion of Japanese red alga, Gracilaria vermiculaphylla, which is now prevalent on the southeast coast of the United States. In fact, ogonori (Gracilaria spp.) is well known in Asian cuisine as it is used as a thickening agent! Novice phycologists created works of art and start their own herbariums by creatively placing G. vermiculaphylla and Ulva sp. (a local green alga) on cardstock, covering them with wax paper, and pressing it all between newspaper. This workshop made participants think twice about algae as they took home their abstract seaweed presses.


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Here’s a fun way to use up those pesky Gracilaria plants which are invading our Charleston shores. Let’s just eat it! Gracilaria is often used as a thickening agent in Asian cuisine. Seaweed and Algae are plants that are not often thought of as tasty snacks, but we can change that! Start incorporating it into your everyday meals, like this Spaghetti recipe from Evelyn McConnaughey’s Sea Vegetables!

Gracilaria Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive)

  • ½ pound ground beef

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 clove of minced garlic

  • 1/8 cayenne

  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 ounce)

  • 1 cup carrot

  • 2 cups Gracilaria

  • 2 quarts boiling water

  • ½ cup cheese, grated (optional)

Brown meat in oil with onion and garlic. Add tomato sauce, cayenne, carrot, and herbs and simmer for 15 minutes. Drop Gracilaria into the boiling water for just 15 seconds. Drain, serve with sauce, and top with grated cheese. (From Sea Vegetables by Evelyn McConnaughey.)


Useful Links

--> Information about Gracilaria vermiculophylla and how it is an invasive species

--> Erik Sotka and Stacy Krueger-Hadfield may have found the reason behind the Gracilaria vermiculophylla infestation in Charleston waters

--> Here are some creative ways to incorporate Gracilaria into your diet


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