“Systems almost always have the peculiarity that the characteristics of the whole cannot (not even in theory) be deduced from the most complete knowledge of’ the components, taken separately or in other partial combinations. This appearance of new characteristics in wholes has been designated as emergence.”
– Ernst Mayr
The Growth of Biological Thought (1982)

My name is Nastassja Noell (she/her – they/them), I am a lichenologist by trade and training and I also create art (mainly oil painting and drawings) and I love creative writing.

But mine is a tenuous symbiosis. I often wonder if this is a teaching of the lichens, for lichens are robust symbioses of organisms from radically different branches of the tree of life. I am not as graceful. Not yet.

You can find more about my lichen research in the heterotroph section of this website.

And my creative works are in the autotroph section.

Usually, my science side scorns my artistic processes, while my creative side runs to hide from the razor blades and cross sections and demands for perfection. Perhaps we all have different parts of ourselves that seem in opposition to each other. We certainly do in the collective imagination, where the artist is usually starving but free until they sell out on their values, while the scientist is chained to their tower of endless obligations in a cushy chair with a great view out their window of the 6th largest mass extinction. Something has been lost, not only the biodiversity of life on Earth, but also the biodiversity of our inner worlds, our collective unconscious, our collective and individual dreaming.

And yet I’m conforted when I remember that symbioses don’t always happen willingly — at least not in lichens. Lichens show us what is possible in the dimension beyond the divides, something emergent, greater than the sum of its parts, something whole. Medicine for our times.

You’ll notice throughout the site that there’s a lot of mentions about a mysterious partner named Jason Hollinger. This is him! His photographs of lichens are shown throughout this site. He’s currently working on the photography for a series of lichen field guides for Princeton University Press. I’m so proud of him!


N. Noell. (2021) [fiction] “Cracking Open: A walk to the precipice.” Dark Mountain Issue 20.

Hollinger, J. and N. Noell. (2020) “ New Reports of Great Basin Desert Lichens in California.” Bulletin of the California Lichen Society, 27:2.

N. Noell and J. Hollinger. (2019)The Lichen Flora of the Caliente Field Office Lincoln County, Nevada.” Report to the Nevada Bureau of Management, 144 pages.

Carter, O., B. Kropp, N. Noell, J. Hollinger, G. Baker, A. Tuttle, L. St. Clair and S.D. Leavitt. (2019) “ A preliminary checklist of the lichens in Great Basin National Park, Nevada, USA.” Evansia, 36:2.

N. Noell and J. Hollinger. (2019) “Following in the footsteps of Henry Imshaug: Preliminary notes on California alpine lichens.” Bulletin of the California Lichen Society, 26:1.

Lendemer, J.C. and N. Noell. (2018) Lichens of the Delmarva Peninsula. An Illustrated Manual . 386 pages. Torrey Botanical Society.

Noell, N. (2016) “Chapter 5: Radical Lichenology.” In Radical Mycology by Peter McCoy, Chthaeus Press 111-142.

Lendemer, J. C., Allen, J., and Noell, N. (2015) “The Parmotrema acid test: a look at species delineation in the P. perforatum group 40 years later.” Mycologia, 14-263.

Noell, N. and J. Hollinger. (2015) “Alpine Lichens and Climate Change on Wheeler Peak.” The Midden: The Resource Management Newsletter of Great Basin National Park , 15:1.

Noell, N. (2014) “Island in the Sky: Hiking Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park.” Northwest Travel Magazine , August issue.

Noell, N. (2014) “Omora Ethnobotanical Park: Changing Lenses, The Miniature Forests of Cape Horn.” Patagon Journal , Summer issue.

Moses, K.P., N. Noell, D. Casado, R. Rijal, Y. Medina, L.R. Lewis, M. Mendez, P.P. Caballero, V. Morales, A.M. Wilson and P. Vezzani. (2013) Ecotourism with a hand lens in the Miniature Forests of Cape Horn: A sustainable pathway for bryophyte conservation. Conference paper, 98th ESA Annual Convention.

Malonga, K. R. Kinslow, B. Gross, and N. Noell. (2011) “Including environmental and social sustainability in Mining Policy: Suggestions for the Ghanaian Mining Commission.” Unpublished report to the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency Division of Mining.


Noell, N. (2021) “Lichens of Northern Arkansas” for the Arkansas Master Naturalists, a virtual walk through habitats, lichen communities, along with lichen identification training.

Noell, N. (2020) “A Virtual Lichen Hike in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains” for Emory University, Dr. Jessica Ham’s Discovery Anthropology class: exploring the more than human world with a lens towards reciprocal relationships. https://vimeo.com/462195966

Hollinger, J & N. Noell. (2019) “Great Basin Lichens” Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC. An introduction to the wonders of the Great Basin Desert through the lens of lichens. Part of the Western Carolina University Biology Symposium Series.

Noell, N. (2016) “Alpine Lichens and Climate Change – 1955 to present: Preliminary results from Mt. Whitney, Kearsarge Pass and Bishop Pass.” Sequoia and Kings Canyon Science Symposium, Three Rivers, CA.

Noell, N. (2015) “Biological Soil Crusts: What are they, why are they important, and how to classify them using the BLM’s AIM methods.” Presentation to the Great Basin Institute field crews in Nevada, Wyoming and Washington; University of Nevada Reno Herbarium.

Noell, N. and J. Hollinger. (2014) “Lichens of the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.” Presentation to the Washington Native Plants Society; Spokane, WA.

Noell, N. (2014) “Introduction to Lichens: Ethics, Tricks, & Tips.” Presentation and workshop for the 3rd Annual International Radical Mycology Convergence, Orangeville, IL.

Noell, N. (2014) “Reading the landscape: Lichens as Environmental Bioindicators.” Presentation and workshop for the 3rd Annual International Radical Mycology Convergence, Orangeville, IL.

Noell, N. (2014) “Lichens of the Delmarva Peninsula: Refugium for the Anthropocene?” Presentation to the New York Botanical Gardens Science Seminar Series; Bronx, NY.

Noell, N., J.L. Allen, J. Hollinger, and R. O’Quinn. (2013) “Lichens of the Channelled Scablands: Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.” Poster presentation, Botany 2013 conference; New Orleans, LA.

Malonga, K., R. Kinslow, B. O’Gross, and N. Noell. (2011) “Including environmental and social sustainability in Mining Policy: Suggestions for the Ghanaian Mining Commission.” Presentation to the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency’s Division of Mining and the Ghana Chamber of Mines; University of Ghana, Accra.


2016. California Lichen Society Grant. $1000 for Alpine Lichens and Climate Change.

2014. National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Grant. Attempted for Alpine Lichens and Climate Change project.

2012. Washington State Native Plant Society. $600 for Lichens of the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

2012. Evergreen State College Student Foundation Grant. $200 for Lichens of the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

2011. Emerging Leaders in Environment and Extraction Program, Duquesne University, University of Ghana, and the U.S. State Department, July 2011. Full honorary scholarship, $3,800.


2011-2013: Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington. B.S. in Field Biology and Lichenology (2013).

2001-2005, 2010: DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois. B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Media and Communications (2010).

1999-2000: Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts. Focus: Cognitive Neuroscience.

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