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Here are some articles I've written for publications such as NewYorker.comNature, New Scientist, Conservation, U.S. News & World Report, Science News, and Salon.com.

Selected Articles

The rock that fell to Earth (Nature)
When an asteroid was spotted heading towards our planet, researchers rushed to document a cosmic impact from start to finish for the first time (pdf)
Won the American Geophysical Union's 2010 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism
Interview with The Open Notebook: Roberta Kwok tracks an asteroid as it hurtles toward Earth

How to design a marijuana-license lottery (NewYorker.com)
When Washington State legalized pot, the massive influx of retail applications was a problem that only mathematics could solve

Crowdsourcing for Shakespeare (NewYorker.com)
A new citizen science project aims to transcribe thousands of pages of 16th- and 17th-century manuscripts

DNA's master craftsmen (Nature)
Behind the walls of the J. Craig Venter Institute, Ham Smith and Clyde Hutchison quietly worked to bring a synthetic cell to life (pdf)

The last meadows (Aeon)
One tree at a time, forests are edging out the world's mountain meadows
Discussed in The Open Notebook: Nailing the nut graf

After the crash (The Last Word on Nothing)
How a traffic researcher aided an investigation into three grad students' deaths

Giant enigma (New Scientist; subscription required)
Strange fossils like nothing alive have baffled botanists for over a century

The shocking electric eel! (Science News for Students)
This creature’s powerful jolts not only act like a radar system but also can trick its prey into revealing their location
Won a 2016 silver AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award in the children's science news category

Environment

How listening to the ocean can help reveal environmental damage (Ensia, 2017)
Scientists are using audio recordings to understand and reduce negative effects on underwater ecosystems

Runaway fish (Science News, 2016)
Escapes from marine farms raise concerns about wildlife

Salvage job (Science News, 2013)
With fertilizer prices skyrocketing, scientists scramble to recover phosphorus from waste

Life is short (Conservation, 2013)
If you are a swallow with long wings

Is a warmer world a sicker world? (Conservation, 2009)
As scientists piece together how climate impacts disease, strange patterns are emerging

A light in the forest (Conservation, 2009)
Wireless sensors draw energy from trees

Cellulosic ethanol runs into roadblocks (Nature, 2009)
The financial crisis is slowing efforts to commercialize next-generation ethanol (pdf)

Is local food really miles better? (Salon.com, 2008)
Many of us now count "food miles." But local fruits and veggies may not be more carbon-friendly than produce at the supermarket

Physical Sciences

How life and luck changed Earth's minerals (Quanta, 2015; reprinted on Wired.com)
Is geology predictable, or is the mineral composition of Earth due to chance events?

A rocky collision course (US News & World Report's Mysteries of Space issue, 2012)
Too many dangerous asteroids are veering close to home (PDF available on request)

The rock that fell to Earth (Nature, 2009)
When an asteroid was spotted heading towards our planet, researchers rushed to document a cosmic impact from start to finish for the first time (pdf)

Biology

DNA's new alphabet (Nature, 2013)
DNA has been around for billions of years — but that doesn't mean scientists can't make it better (pdf)

Modeling sperm: The finer points of fertilization (Biomedical Computation Review, 2013)
Navigating the oviduct and other mysteries (pdf)

The shape of life (New Scientist, 2012; subscription required)
One of the greatest mysteries in biology is how plants and animals take on their astonishing array of forms

Driller killers (New Scientist, 2012; subscription required)
Bacteria battle each other with highly sophisticated weapons — now we're turning this arsenal against them

The new cell anatomy (Nature, 2011)
A menagerie of intriguing cell structures, some long-neglected and others newly discovered, is keeping biologists glued to their microscopes (pdf)

DNA's master craftsmen (Nature, 2010)
Behind the walls of the J. Craig Venter Institute, Ham Smith and Clyde Hutchison quietly worked to bring a synthetic cell to life (pdf)

Five hard truths for synthetic biology (Nature, 2010)
Can engineering approaches tame the complexity of living systems? (pdf)

Medicine

The real issues in vaccine safety (Nature, 2011)
Hysteria about false vaccine risks often overshadows the challenges of detecting the real ones (pdf)

Once more, with feeling (Nature, 2013)
Prosthetic arms are getting ever more sophisticated. Now they just need a sense of touch (pdf)

Fighting cholera by the numbers (Nature.com, 2009)
New model suggests best course of action

Science and Art

Exploring the science of cooking (Science News, 2012)

Insect illustrator (Science News, 2012)

Science tarot (The-Scientist.com, 2010)
A whimsical deck of cards shuffles the worlds of logic and mythology

Careers and Technology

Dynamic duos (Nature, 2015)
Partnering with a writer on a book can bring literary panache to scientific stories (pdf)

Webcraft 101 (Nature, 2014)
An eye-pleasing website can boost the appeal of a laboratory, and creating one has never been easier (pdf)

Out of the hood (Nature, 2013)
Biologists frustrated with wet-lab work can find rewards in a move to computational research (pdf)

Altmetrics make their mark (Nature, 2013)
Alternative measures can yield useful data on achievement — but must be used cautiously (pdf)

A conference in your pocket (Nature, 2013)
Meeting attendees can use apps to network and ease logistical hassles (pdf)

Two minutes to impress (Nature, 2013)
With ruthless revision, researchers can compose a punchy elevator speech to sell their science to a neighbour, potential employer or politician (pdf)

Going digital (Nature, 2012)
Creating electronic textbooks requires ingenuity, teamwork and multimedia savvy (pdf)

Phoning in data (Nature, 2009)
Far from being just an accessory, mobile phones are starting to be used to collect data in an increasing number of disciplines (pdf)

Kids

Calling scientists of all colors (Science News for Students, 2017)
More black, Hispanic, and Native American scientists and engineers are needed to solve important problems

Secrets of slime (Science News for Students, 2015)
Mucus may seem gross, but it’s a lifesaver for humans and other animals

Ants on guard (Science News for Students, 2013)
Fierce insect bodyguards protect plants from harm

Delving into dung (Science News for Students, 2013)
Scientists uncover fascinating secrets through the study of animal feces

This shrimp packs a punch (Science News for Students, 2013)
Researchers learn a lot from mantis shrimp, colorful marine creatures that possess deadly weapons and complex vision

Caecilians: The other amphibian (Science News for Students, 2012)
Legless creatures live secretive, strange existences underground and underwater

Studying what you love (Science News for Students, 2012)
Researchers study the same animals that fascinated them as kids

Weed wars (Science News for Students, 2011)
Farmers fight unwanted plants among crops

These gems make their own way (Science News for Students, 2010)
Lab-made gemstones could improve cell phones or catch bacteria

Little beetle, big horns (Science News for Students, 2007)
Sniffing out the evolution of dung beetle horns

Book Reviews

Humor helps make simple science fun (San Francisco Chronicle, 2007)
Natalie Angier goes on a whirligig tour of science

 

Image credit: Roberta Kwok