Selected Stories


The Butterfly Effect. Jeffrey Glassberg helped usher in the age of CSI-style criminal investigation by inventing genetic fingerprinting. Then he set out to save the butterfly, and with it the world. (Tufts Magazine)

Taking on TB. Bree Aldridge and her team are revolutionizing how we understand and treat this deadly disease. (Tufts Medicine Magazine)

Thriller Whales. How Salvatore Cerchio, A85, hit the scientific jackpot. (Tufts Magazine)

What are you worth? How we calculate the value of a life. Each life is equally valuable. Until it’s not. From the cost of saving your life to your worth once you’re gone, there’s a price on all our heads. (New Scientist, Cover story)

Accompanying Q&A:The price of my life: $1.6 million and counting. Six years ago, Randy Hillard was diagnosed with terminal gastric cancer and given less than a year to live. But then he responded extraordinarily well to the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) – originally meant to extend his life by two months. Six years later, he is still having $17,000 infusions every three weeks. His survival has cost $1.6 million – and counting. A professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University and a hospice doctor, Hillard knows it is a high price to pay. He spoke to New Scientist during his 95th Herceptin infusion. (New Scientist)

What Lies Within. How the human body might well be one of the best sources for new antibiotics. (IEEE Pulse Magazine)

A Lasting Impact. With increasing attention being paid to sport-related concussions, there’s much to learn about how to diagnose and treat brain injuries. At the Penn State Center for Sport Concussion Research and Service, professor Semyon Slobounov is examining some of the unanswered questions—and asking a few of his own. (Penn Stater)

Tap the placebo effect to unlock your body’s healing powers. No side effects, non-addictive and makes you feel better. From IBS to insomnia, could the honest placebo be the treatment we’ve been looking for? (New Scientist, Cover story)

Accompanying Q&A:I can tell you how to heal yourself with hypnosis. We all hypnotise ourselves everyday but we don’t always get it right, says Laurence Sugarman, who believes it can take healthcare to a new level. (New Scientist)

Cell Break. How cell-free biology is finally putting the engineering back in bioengineering. (IEEE Pulse Magazine)

Throw Science to the Dogs. The best models for human disease may just be right under scientists’ noses—if not in their laps. (IEEE Pulse Magazine)

Retro Reproduction. An old imaging technology rewrites the rules of modern embryology. (IEEE Pulse Magazine)

Inside Tract. Can deep brain stimulation survive its reputation for success? (IEEE Pulse Magazine)

Regulating Nanomedicine. New nano tools offer great promise for the future—if regulators can solve the difficulties that hold development back. (IEEE Pulse Magazine)

About Face. For half a century, one theory about the way we experience and express emotion has helped shape how we practice psychology, do police work, and even fight terrorism. But what if that theory is wrong? (Boston Magazine)

The Fighter. Joe Lauzon’s ferocity and power — and mangled ears — have made him one of the most popular athletes in what may be the world’s fastest-growing sport: mixed martial arts. His string of spectacular upsets has already earned him tons of money and international respect, but can he do what no Massachusetts cage fighter before him has managed … win a UFC championship? (Boston Magazine)

Brain Storm. David Berry is one of the most brilliant thinkers you’ve never heard of. Starting in 2012 he’s going to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels using little more than algae. (Okay, it’s technically cyanobacteria, but you know what we mean.) He might have done it sooner, but he’s also working on curing cancer and eradicating global hunger. (Boston Magazine)

Trends and News

Obscure Disease, Rich Potential for Knowledge. Insight into a rare genetic syndrome could lead to treatments for basal cell carcinoma, the world’s most pervasive cancer. (Tufts Dental Magazine)

At the Interface of Disciplines. Jeffrey Karp pulls from nature and nano to transform medicine. (IEEE Pulse magazine)

The Church of the Paranormal. Despite our reputation as a science-minded superpower, America has always had a predilection for the unseen. (Pacific Standard)

Bias in the Court. How biased are forensic psychologists by the legal team that picks them? More than they think. (Pacific Standard)

A master designer in Boston built America’s fastest sailing ships. April 1851: With a cold spring wind blowing across East Boston, the Flying Cloud slid from its shipyard and into the water for the first time. The vessel was a massive beauty, all long lines and angles, with a 1,782-ton cargo capacity, decks that spanned 225 feet, and a sharp prow built to knife through the water. The keel was made of rock maple, and three sails carried a total of 10,000 yards of canvas. Beneath the bow, a carved white-and-gold angel trumpeted the way forward. At a time when sailing merchant vessels ruled the mid-19th century seas, the Flying Cloud became the fastest “clipper” ship of the day, and was built in Boston by a pioneering shipbuilder, Donald McKay. (Beta Boston, a Boston Globe site)

126 years ago today, Boston launched the first electric street car. Just over a century and a quarter ago, Boston and New York had themselves a choice to make: clean up their respective crowded, stinking, horse-jammed roadways with cable-based transit technology a la San Francisco, soot-belching steam trains like London’s, or go for broke with comparatively untested newfangled electric railways popping up in small experimental models around the country? (Beta Boston)

News Writing (Samples)

Elephant “Speaks” Like a Human—Uses Trunk to Shape Sound. Zoo elephant can say “good,” “no,” “hello,” and “sit down,” study says. (National Geographic, online news)

What Lives in Your Belly Button? A “rain forest” of species thrive in our navels, a new study finds. Don’t be alarmed, though—says one researcher, “It’s quite beautiful.” (National Geographic, online news)

Squirrel Birth Control: To Stop Invasion, Science Gets Seedy. Drug-laced sunflower seeds may lower numbers of the booming rodents. (National Geographic, online news)


Additional work can be found on IEEE Pulse magazine, National Geographic News, Boston Home and Boston magazine, Endocrine News, Beta Boston (a Boston Globe site),