Science writing from physics to ecology

I write about science and the environment from Mount Rainier, Maryland, just outside the nation’s capital. I’ve written for science and general-interest publications including the New York Times, Science, Slate, Nature, Johns Hopkins Magazine, Physics World, Inside Science and Science News.

Selected Recent Work

OP-ED Cities as havens for trees, New York Times, December 25, 2014
A beautiful eastern hemlock tree in my neighborhood got me thinking about whether cities can help preserve trees that are threatened in the wild.

NEWS Cloud monitor to hitch a ride on the space station, Nature, December 12, 2014
New NASA instrument could help improve climate predictions and the International Space Station’s image.

FEATURE STORY Karl Alexander’s decades-long study shows the long shadow of a poor start, Johns Hopkins Magazine, Winter 2014
Sociologist’s 25-year study of urban poverty challenges the notion of equal opportunity in America.

NEWS A few long jumps can make an epidemic, Physics World, November 5, 2014
Theoretical model shows how important random long jumps are in disease and biological invasion spread.

ESSAY These Women Should Win a Nobel Prize in Physics, Slate, October 6, 2014
As of today, only two women have won the Nobel Prize in Physics. I profile 10 who deserve consideration.

PROFILE Making a career of putting numbers on nature, APS News, October 2014
Profile of the freewheeling physicist-turned-ecologist-turned-British science advisor Robert May.

FEATURE STORY On the Edge, Science, September 25, 2014
Profile of Dutch mathematical ecologist Marten Scheffer, who in the 1980s found ecological tipping points in lakes, and has since extended the idea to climate, forests, and even migraines and depression. (login required for full story)

PROFILE Ian Garrick-Bethell ’02 takes a moon shot, Wesleyan Magazine, July 16, 2014
Lunar scientist finds new ways to approach old problems.

ESSAY Farewell invertebrates, we hardly knew you, Last Word on Nothing, July 1, 2014
A lament for the National Zoo’s Invertebrate House.

NEWS Qubits team up to detect errors, Physics World, June 17, 2014
Physicists stitch together seven ions and inch toward a working quantum computer.

NEWS Quantum math could explain irrational reasoning, Inside Science, June 16, 2014
Blame your irrational decisions on quantum theory!

MUSEUM REVIEW National Museum of Mathematics is antidote to math phobia, Science News, May 31, 2014
Museum aims to make math fun for the whole family.

NEWS Deepwater Horizon methane lingered longer than thought, Science News, May 31, 2014
A deep-sea methane mystery.

NEWS New chemical blend helps plastic heal itself, Science, May 8, 2014
Hole-sealing chemistry could lead to self-repairing airplane wings.

NEWS Why does time flow forward?, Inside Science, April 30, 2014
A mind-bending tale of memory, entropy, the Big Bang and two definitions of time! (Republished in Huffington Post and Christian Science Monitor)

FEATURE STORY Plight of the Butterfly (pdf), American Gardener, March/April 2014
Gardeners and scientists join forces to save a threatened migration.

ESSAY The human and the tree: a love story, Blog, February 25, 2014
Trees can prevent flooding, store carbon and harbor biodiversity — if we let them.

MOVIE REVIEW Catching Particle Fever, Science News, February 22, 2014
A behind-the-scenes glimpse at the men and women who found the Higgs boson.

NEWS Magma spends most of its existence as sludgy mush, Science News, Feb 18, 2014
Crystals open a window into volcanic depths.

BOOK REVIEW The Sixth Extinction, Science News, Feb 11, 2014
The science of extinction, by New Yorker reporter Elizabeth Kolbert.

NEWS Filament of cosmic web set aglow, Science News, Jan 20, 2014
Astronomers spot universe’s hidden structure — maybe.

FEATURE STORY Tomorrow’s catch, Science News, Jan 13, 2014
Can chaos theory can help manage fisheries sustainably?

ESSAY Is biking in cities good for you?, Blog, Dec 30, 2013
Weighing risks and rewards in a car-centric culture.


My Writing

Why tell stories about science? Science, like any other endeavor, has characters, plot, intrigue and heartbreak. But perhaps unique among human pursuits, it inevitably progresses: we always know more than we did before. I try to shed light on that process, showing what scientists know, what they hope to find out and why it matters.

Science – A nearly complete listing of my science stories. While I focus mainly on physical and environmental sciences, I have at one time or another written about almost every scientific field.

Blog – My blog features occasional essays and original reporting on a wide range of topics. Most touch on issues related to the environment and sustainability.

Education – From 2007 to 2011 I worked at the American Physical Society, where I wrote about physics and covered the education “beat.” I also wrote frequently about APS’s education and diversity programs, and continue to work on several projects as a consultant.

Radio – In 2012 I produced a series of pieces for the Perpetual Notion Machine, a science radio show in Madison, Wisconsin.

Multimedia – I have developed innovative posters, brochures, and videos on topics in physics and science education.

Music and Dance – I play traditional music and organize old-time music and dance events.

Check out my work, read more about me, and please contact me if you would like to discuss a project. You can also subscribe to my writing.