Sticking up for Your Colleagues, in the Lab and in the Field

This fall, I brought members of the Oregon Peace Institute to my town to lead an introductory bystander intervention training. The fatal stabbing of two men on a Portland commuter train a few months earlier had hit the community hard—many people had connections to the places and people involved—and I wanted to do something more […]

What I Learned in Humanities 110

My alma mater is, for better or worse, the undergraduate equivalent of a cult film: Most people have never heard of Reed College, and the few who have really like to argue about it. So it’s disconcerting when arguments usually confined to the Reed campus attract national attention. In recent days, a Washington Post column […]

Redux: Science Meets Bird, Bird Meets Science

This week, news of the rediscovery of the Jackson’s climbing salamander in Guatemala has me thinking about all the species that lie just out of sight. Here’s one I first wrote about in 2013. Late last year, during a reporting trip in Cambodia, I shared a car for a couple of days with Simon Mahood, […]

The Beginning of the Endling

Last spring, I wrote a story about the origin and evolution of “endling,” a word used to describe the sole surviving member of a species. Endling was coined in the mid-1990s by Robert Webster, a Georgia doctor who, during his work at a convalescent center, realized that there was no precise English word for a […]

A Tree Persists in Brooklyn

The first pages of children’s classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn describe eleven-year-old Francie Nolan sitting on her Brooklyn fire escape, daydreaming that she lives in a tree. For Francie, it wasn’t hard to imagine; tree limbs curled gracefully around the fire escape, shading her from the summer sun with umbrellas of pointed leaves. The tree […]

Redux: Contagious Compassion

This post was first published in March of last year; sadly, it’s more relevant than ever. On February 29, after having lunch in Hood River, Oregon, Kozen Sampson drove to a quiet neighborhood to take his dogs for a walk. He was getting out of his car, he says, when a man with brown hair approached and kicked his car door. […]

Better Science Writing Through Improv

Those of us who try to communicate complicated things for a living are usually told, early on by some wiser person, to know our audiences. To know our readers, in my case. I’ve always taken this pretty seriously—which is to say, I take all of you seriously. I don’t know your names (except for Mom—hi, […]

Corvid Redux Week: The Crow Knows Your Nose

Like Ann, I’m a recent convert to the charm of crows. This has led to a running joke with my husband’s cousin, Roger. At family reunions, I tell him how much I like crows. He tells me how much he likes to shoot them. Hilarious, right? Here’s the satisfying part: Crows remember Roger. They don’t just remember Roger’s […]