A Sri Lankan girl living in Lebanon isn’t really a citizen of either country

•November 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Rainey lives in Lebanon, a country that will never give her citizenship. Her parents are from Sri Lanka, but she was born in Beirut. And now, Lebanon may ask her to leave the only home she’s ever known.

This is my final story in the series Young Lebanon that aired all this week on PRI’s The World.

This series was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

An unlikely pair in Lebanon teams up in hopes of creating change

•November 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Ryan and Noor are best friends, and they live in Beirut. Ryan belongs to a religious sect called the Druze, and Noor is a Sunni Muslim. They agree that in Lebanon, they are an unlikely match.

This is my third story in the series Young Lebanon airing all this week on PRI’s The World.

This series was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Why an NGO wants this Lebanese boy to live his hoop dreams

•November 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment


Ahmad, like many Lebanese kids, wants to be a basketball star when he grows up. For now, he’s getting to train towards his unlikely goal thanks to a Lebanese NGO that believes such dreams are important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This is the second story in my series Young Lebanon airing all this week on PRI’s The World.

This series was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Young Lebanon

•November 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Let’s face it. The news we hear out of the Middle East tends to be pretty rough, and dispiriting. Well, this week I’m sharing a different set of perspectives — a collection of stories profiling tweens and teens growing up and coming of age in Beirut. We meet them up close, and get their sense of the future — for their country, and for themselves.

Each day, Monday through Thursday, you can hear a different radio piece on PRI’s The World in this series. I’ll be posting them on my website as they air. You can hear the first one above. And here’s a video trailer for the whole series:

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Science in a Pub

•November 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

We did an experiment at NOVA — we put the Senior Science Editor in the local Irish pub, gave him a beer and a camera, and then watched what he comes up with. Here are our results:

Audio only:

Zombies & Calculus

•September 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The time has come. The zombie apocalypse is upon us. But before locking yourself in the basement with all your canned goods, it’s essential that you watch these two videos. I just hope we made them in time to save us all.

Audio only:

Stabilizing Vaccines with Silk

•September 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Vaccines must be kept cold up until the moment that they are administered to a patient. This poses a problem in the developing world where infrastructure can interrupt the refrigeration during storage and transport. Numerous labs and companies are working to solve the problem. For instance, one Cambridge-based startup called Vaxess is using an extract from silk to stabilize vaccines, and their preliminary results are promising.

This is a web video that I produced for NOVA.

Audio only:

Coral reefs can communicate with fish, and many of them are crying for help

•August 23, 2014 • 1 Comment

Smell is a powerful force. So powerful it can mean the difference between everything and nothing. That’s certainly the case in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

This story comes from the audio series Small Matters, and it aired on PRI’s The World.

Knotty Thrills

•July 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The problem of how to tie a knot out of a fluid had eluded scientists for a century and a half. Then, using a 3D printer, bubble mist, and a scaled-down version of a laser light show, three physicists from the University of Chicago did it. And the results are mesmerizing.

This is my first online video for NOVA!

Audio only:

Photos of a short life comfort only some grieving parents

•June 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The death of a child is a profound loss, and how parents grieve is often deeply personal. So personal that what comforts one parent may disturb the other. My story aired on NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered yesterday evening.

The heart of a man

•May 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

On last week’s “Patient Files” on WHYY — a series on illness, healing, and coping — I produced a story about sudden death at every turn. Meet Michael Downing, a writer with an inherited medical condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM.

How tiny animals find a date

•April 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The way we talk about finding a romantic partner is biased. Take “love is in the air” or “love at first sight.” These idioms assume that feelings must be transmitted through air, and are cemented using visual cues. Even the expression “falling in love” assumes gravity! But it turns out that love isn’t just restricted to our physical reality.

This story comes from the audio series Small Matters, and it aired on Here & Now and Living on Earth.

Searching for chemistry between the stars

•April 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It’s said that what makes jazz are the notes you don’t play. Turns out that something similar can be said about outer space…because it’s the stuff we can’t see that’s helped make our universe.

This story comes from the audio series Small Matters, and it aired on Living on Earth.

Thunder in the valley

•March 13, 2014 • 1 Comment

On a summer day in the early 1980s, Cathy Wilson heard an eerie noise coming from her backyard. It sounded, impossibly, like thunder. Fellow residents of Moodus, Connecticut reported the same thing: a series of cracks and roars coming from the Earth.

It turns out that Moodus residents have been hearing these sorts of sounds for hundreds of years. And I decided to go there to investigate — just what are these strange noises?

This story appeared on Stylus, an experimental documentary series about sound, music, and listening, presented by WBUR.

At 102, reflections on race and the end of life

•February 12, 2014 • 1 Comment

Today is Rosa Finnegan’s birthday. She’s turning 102 — she was born in 1912, the year the Titanic sunk. “Sometimes I feel as though time has gone by so fast,” she says.

This afternoon, on NPR’s All Things Considered, Rosa reflected on a powerful encounter that she had a few months ago in her nursing home. She says that even after more than a century, there are still important things that she’s learning about herself.

Rosa’s story was reported and produced by me and Caitrin Lynch, with support from the Olin College Faculty Summer Research Fund.

In Palau, a reef of the future

•January 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

News stories about the environment tend to be gloomy because, frankly, the stuff that we like to do as humans is wreaking havoc all over the planet. But this story is different. Staring down the barrel of climate change, I found a remarkable tale of resilience.

My story aired on The World, and was supported by the Solutions Journalism Network.

A Lebanese new year

•January 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

On New Years Eve, all over the world, people found lots of ways to bid goodbye to 2013 and greet 2014. Take Lebanon, where I came across a tradition that is as forward looking as it gets.

My story aired on The World yesterday.

A sweet solution

•December 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Entomologist Noah Wilson-Rich wanted to study ways to keep bees and their hives healthy, but grant money proved elusive. So he cooked up a sweet and entrepreneurial solution. This story comes from the audio series One Species at a Time.

Typhoon Haiyan forces an entire island community to relocate

•November 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Palau, a nation of sparsely populated Pacific islands surrounded by turquoise waters teeming with fish and giant clams, is so obscure most people must scour a map to find it. Typhoon Haiyan hit the northern island of Kanyangel particularly hard.

This two-way aired on The World last Friday.

Loving math and mime

•September 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Tim Chartier has found a way to fuse his two great loves: math and mime. (It’s a fusion that’s almost as unlikely as wanting to do a radio story about it.) He and his wife strive to have their audiences become a part of the world that they’re creating on stage, and in so doing, the math becomes at once understandable and unforgettable.

This story is part of the PRX STEM Story Project, distributed by PRX and made possible with funds from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. A shorter version aired on NPR’s Here and Now in mid-December.

Rusty life

•August 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

If you drive along a country road in Maine, past pine trees and summer cottages, you might not give a ditch of rust-colored water a second thought, unless you had the bad luck to drive into it. But there are scientists wading into this rusty water, and they’ve found something rather unexpected. This story is from the audio series One Species at a Time.

Synergy: Fusing art & ocean science

•August 7, 2013 • 1 Comment

Synergy is a collaboration between Boston-based artists and ocean scientists that gave rise to an exhibition at the Museum of Science in Boston earlier this year. Videographer Amanda Kowalski and I produced a series of 8 video portraits of each of the artist/scientist pairings. You can watch a couple of them below, and find them all here and here.

A day with an electrical lineman

•June 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

When the power goes down and the lights go out, a legion of power linemen is deployed. They’re the first to respond when the public needs to be reconnected with the grid. This is a portrait of that community through the voice of one of those linemen — what his days are like when things are calm, and what happens when disaster strikes.

This story aired on BURN: An Energy Journal.

Australia’s “Magnetic” Termites

•June 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

In Australia’s Northern Territory, termites build mounds that are tall, thin, and aligned like compass needles. How and why the insects do this is not entirely clear, but a local entomologist offers some theories.

My story, in partnership with NOVA, aired on PRI’s The World.

Migrating Monarchs

•May 14, 2013 • 3 Comments

Every year monarch butterflies begin a journey north from their overwintering grounds in Mexican forests. The epic migration spans generations and the better part of a continent. And it touches the lives of countless scientists and citizens. Check out our new Google Earth tour, produced by Atlantic Public Media, in partnership with the Encyclopedia of Life and a Google Outreach Developer Grant.

Watch the tour with Google Earth by downloading the KMZ file, or on YouTube:

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