Science Writing Highlights

For the last year (2009-2010) I’ve been writing for the journal BioTechniques. In that time I’ve written way to many articles to post here, but here are a few favorites from Spring/Summer 2010:

“Ending cell line contamination by cutting off researchers” is my most recent piece, about how the biological research community can end the widespread use of contaminated cell lines for published (and peer reviewed) research. New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Skloot (who literally wrote the book on HeLa cell contamination) posted a link to the article on her Twitter.

“Fastest case of adaptation documented in Tibetans” reported on (what I think is) a really interesting development in the study of human genetic adaptation to environmental conditions. Basically, Tibetans adapted rapidly from Han Chinese to thrive in low-oxygen environments.

“The sequencing race: the home stretch” was a follow up to an article that I wrote that appeared in the February 2010 print edition of BioTechniques. The whole suite of articles reports of the progress that has been made (and is anticipated) in the field of genome sequencing technologies.

“Plant biology blasts off: shuttle missions explore biofuels” reported on experiments featured on the last few NASA shuttle missions exploring the affects of zero-gravity on possible new biofuels.

“Facial expressions quantify pain in lab mice” is about a method to quantify whether or not laboratory mice are experiencing pain due to their role in an experiment based on the way the features of their face change, indicating pain. It raised some important issues about animal rights, specifically what constitutes suffering and whether the animals are aware of what is happening to them.