Published Work

These are (almost) all of my bylined pieces, as well as many of my un-bylined ones.


You Are Here … and We Know It >
Researchers locate people using brain patterns
12 March 2009
A Curious Case of Genetic Resurrection >
Series of unlikely events brings dead gene back to life
6 March 2009
You Can’t Keep a Good Fish Small
Fish shrunk by overharvesting can regain their original size
4 March 2009

Hey, Fish, Got My Back?

Bold sticklebacks get bolder when a shy companion is nearby
29 January 2009

Why Seniors Say

Brain glitch may explain why the elderly drink less water than they should

17 December 2007

Not Again, Dear. I’m Sperm-Depleted

In an African antelope, sometimes it’s the females that need fending off

29 November 2007

An Environmental Contaminant Invades the Womb

Mothers may pass the ill effects of arsenic exposure on to their offspring

26 November 2007

So Cute You Could Just Eat Them Up

In certain situations, it makes evolutionary sense for animals to eat their young

14 November 2007

Handshake: Window on Your Genes?

Researchers link grip strength to genetic quality

9 November 2007

Robot Dearest?

Children show affinity for interactive machines

5 November 2007

Scent of a Hunter

Panicky pachyderms sniff out threatening humans

18 October 2007

Swarms on the Savanna

African elephants have a surprising nemesis

9 October 2007

The Iguana’s Air Raid Siren

Although mute, marine iguanas eavesdrop on mockingbirds for warnings of predators

3 October 2007

Honey Bee Defense Leaves Hornets Breathless

Social insects suffocate their enemies by swarming them

17 September 2007

Bacteria Get Promiscuous

Infiltration of host genomes suggests an expanded role for gene swapping

30 August 2007

An Aphrodisiac Without the Itch

Arctic birds flip for tick deterrent

21 August 2007

Think Pink–or at Least a Reddish Blue

Researchers link gender color preferences to mechanics of vision

20 August 2007

The Tail Is Mightier Than the Fang

Squirrels heat tail to scare off rattlesnakes

13 August 2007

Bad Memories Tied to DNA

Study links enhanced ability to recall emotional events to genetic mutation

30 July 2007

Psychosis From Pot?

Researchers link cannabis to increased mental health problems

27 July 2007

No Cancer Benefit From Extra Fruits and Veggies

More modest recommended amounts yield the same benefit, study shows

17 July 2007

Feet That Know What Hands Are Doing

In people lacking hands, the brain turns to feet to mimic actions

13 July 2007

Car Accident Claims Renowned Geneticist

Anne McLaren dies, along with her ex-husband

9 July 2007

Science (subscription required)

Judge Modifies Sonar Ruling

A U.S. judge has decided that silence is not golden for marine mammals.

25 January 2008 (in ScienceScope)

Marine Mammals Still Imperiled After Sonar Ruling

A federal judge imposed significant restrictions last week on use of the U.S. Navy’s submarine-chasing sonar technology in training exercises taking place off the southern California coast through January 2009.

11 January 2008 (in News of the Week)

Republican: Fred Thompson

Republican former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson won points from scientists for helping the home state Spallation Neutron Source in 2000. But his recent stances on several issues have not endeared him to researchers.

4 January 2008 (in News Focus–With Eli Kintisch)

Trials of NIH’s AIDS Vaccine Get a Yellow Light

POTOMAC, MD: Last week, the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s AIDS Vaccine Research Subcommittee met here to discuss the future of an AIDS vaccine made by NIH after a test of a similar vaccine found that it may have actually increased some people’s risk of becoming infected with HIV.

21 December 2007 (in News of the Week–With Jon Cohen)

Reprieve Granted on Grants

The National Health Council (NHC) is on the prowl for $250,000 to fund a proposed database of rejected National Institutes of Health grants.

23 November 2007 (in ScienceScope)

Robots’ Allure: Can It Remedy What Ails Computer Science?

Faced with sagging enrollments in the field, school and university instructors are engineering a deus ex machina to turn things around.

16 November 2007 (in News Focus)

Greening the Meeting

Scientific travel pours huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Some societies are changing the way they run their annual meetings–and a few scientists are proposing even more drastic changes.

5 October 2007 (in News Focus)

Boycott: Blocked

The British University and College Union (UCU) last week dropped efforts to boycott exchanges with Israeli researchers.

5 October 2007 (in ScienceScope)

In the Navy

The University of Hawaii is moving ahead with plans to build a Navy-affiliated research laboratory.

5 October 2007 (in ScienceScope)

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (

Ryan T. Dosumu-Johnson

2009 Gilliam Fellow

February 12, 2009

Thinking like an engineer

Scientists are applying the tools and approaches of engineering to solve some practical problems and fathom the basic nature of things.

Cover story, August 2008 Bulletin

You’ve Gotta Have HAART

A new model reveals that three classes of HIV drugs inhibit the virus more than 10,000 times better than others.

June 15, 2008

Researchers Build Model Protocell Capable of Copying DNA

Scientists have demonstrated how protocells might have taken up nutrients from the earth’s early environment to propel their growth. (with podcast)

June 04, 2008

Rett Syndrome: One Mutation Affects a Cast of Thousands

Scientists have discovered that the mutation that causes Rett syndrome interferes with the regulation of 2,500 other genes.

May 30, 2008

New Finding Re-opens the Book on Colon Cancer Stem Cells

A protein previously thought to identify only colon cancer stem cells is actually prevalent throughout primary colon tumors.

May 23, 2008

Researchers Launch Online Protein Folding Game

HHMI researchers bring the arcane world of protein folding to the online gaming arena with the launch of “Foldit.”

May 08, 2008

Genes that Put the “Stem” in Cell

Researchers have identified hundreds of genes that keep embryonic stem cells in their characteristic malleable state.

21 March 2008

Building Enzymes from Scratch

With the help of donated computer time from thousands of people around the world, HHMI researchers have designed and built two functional enzymes never seen in nature.

20 March 2008

Mutant Fly Hints at Evolution of Carbon Dioxide Sensing

A fruit fly’s misguided neurons provide a fascinating look at the evolution of sensory systems that detect carbon dioxide.

29 February 2008

A Widescreen View of Methylation

HHMI researchers have developed novel techniques and software that will provide scientists with the tools they need to decipher large-scale patterns in the vital – but little-understood – process of DNA methylation.

17 February 2008

Cell Silences Genes on the Nuclear Edge

Certain regions inside the nucleus can prevent the genes inside them from becoming activated.

13 February 2008

Genome-Wide Survey Nets Key Melanoma Gene

HHMI researchers have uncovered a protein that stops the growth of melanoma.

8 February 2008

Plants Can Sense Midnight

A new study that examined the activity of one species’ 22,000 genes over a complete day and night cycle showed that midnight is a special time that plants can actually distinguish. Midnight marks the start of tasks, such as growth and protein synthesis, that plants typically neglect during the day.

1 February 2008

Xconomy (

Afferent’s Approach to Stroke Rehab is a Noisy One

12 March 2008

G: The Green Lifestyle Magazine

Australia from the Outside

How does the rest of the world view Australia’s environmental policies? (G 10)

Smoke and Mirrors

Getting to the truth behind carbon offsets. (G 4)

Steel vs. Timber

What’s the best material for framing a house? (G 3; in “Versus”)


Amphibian Annihilation

Dozens of species of frogs have been disappearing worldwide, but it hasn’t been climate change or pollution that’s killing them. Scientists have been baffled, but new research has uncovered the culprit. (COSMOS Issue 16)

Sexual chemistry 101
Looking for love? Use the power of science to give you the edge in the dating game, with the top 10 lab-tested tips for finding the perfect mate (COSMOS Issue 15).

Triplewart Seadevil

A look at this oddest of fishes. (COSMOS Issue 13; in “Menagerie”)

The Three Lions Pub

Virtual Pubcrawl in Secondlife (COSMOS Issue 13; in “Pubcrawl”)

Cosmos Online

Mystery of the dying bees
Something mysterious is killing honey bees, and even as billions are dropping dead across North America, researchers are scrambling to find answers and save one of the most important crop pollinators on Earth.

The dingo divide
Graziers see them as pests, and poisoning is common. But some biologists think Australia’s dingoes are the best weapon in a war against imported cats and foxes.

Australia’s drought may stay for keeps
Australia’s current drought, called the worst in 1,000 years, is the result of changing rainfall patterns and may necessitate major changes in the continent’s water economy.

Stellar discovery ruins Aussie flag
The discovery of three extra stars in the Southern Cross threatens the accuracy of the flags of five nations, including Australia.

Colossal squid dwarfs giants
Fishermen have pulled in a 10-metre colossal squid weighing nearly half a tonne from the frigid waters south of New Zealand.

A way to ‘see’ extra dimensions
The extra dimensions key to the mind-boggling concept of the universe called string theory might actually be measurable, according to U.S. researchers.

Australia pulls plug on light bulbs
The venerable but rampantly inefficient conventional incandescent light bulb is set to be phased out in Australia by 2010.

Sheep genome sequenced, virtually
The sheep genome has been ‘virtually’ mapped with the aid of data from cows, dogs, and humans, in a new international study.

Comet to appear in Aussie skies tonight
The brightest comet seen in Australian skies in over 40 years should be visible from tonight, according to astronomers.

Tiny dogs have tiny mutation
Much of the amazing variation in size of different breeds of domestic dogs stems from tiny differences in a single gene, say researchers.

Subterranean bacteria hint at life on Mars
Life can exist deep underground for millions of years without any energy input from the sun, according to a new international study.

Australian tsunami threat
An earthquake of magnitude 8.1 rocked the Solomon Islands this morning, threatening tsunamis in Australia and the South Pacific.

Enzymes may allow universal blood transfusions
Two newly discovered bacterial enzymes may be able to safely convert A, B, and AB blood to the universally useful type O, say researchers.

Protein extracted from T. rex fossil
Protein has been extracted from a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil. U.S. researchers behind the find argue that its sequence is the first direct evidence for a genetic link between dinosaurs and modern birds.

Sex doesn’t sell
Sex won’t sell ads, say British researchers who found that sexual content in a TV show prevents viewers from remembering accompanying ads.

Key to memory formation revealed
Long-term memories have their roots in a process called DNA methylation, according to U.S. researchers. This is the same process that allows cells to specialise during embryonic development.

‘Sewer gas’ causes suspended animation
The same gas that makes rotten eggs and sewage stink may one day help doctors perform open heart surgery, according to a new U.S. study.

Air guitar you can wear
Air guitar enthusiasts can now make real music thanks to a ‘smart’ shirt developed in Australia.

Australia’s energy future more costly
Reducing carbon greenhouse gas emissions now will be cheaper for Australia than cleaning up the environmental damage that results from doing nothing, according to a new report.

Conservationists miss the mark
Endangered mammals, birds and amphibians are apparently scattered across the globe, according to British researchers, a finding that contradicts current conservation models that assume they are clustered together.

Seafloor vents origin of life
The first steps towards life may have been taken billions of years ago in the waters around seafloor vents, German researchers say.

Walnuts make hearts happy
Walnuts may help prevent heart disease, according a team of Spanish researchers.

Bumble bees risk disaster in Australia
Native Australian bees may stop the introduction of a new exotic species to the mainland, perhaps averting yet another ecological disaster like the cane toads or the European carp.

Galactic arm grabs science prize
A new galactic arm, an understanding of how bees navigate, and a molecule that prevents breast cancer are some of the discoveries that earned five scientists and science educators top awards from the Australian government last night.

Lay off the big fish, scientists say
Going after the big fish could leave species more vulnerable to environmental change, according to a new international study.

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