Writing for Causes with GoodSpeaks.org

GoodSpeaksI’ve started volunteering as a writer with GoodSpeaks.org to promote meaningful causes and organizations. The site lets readers know how to get involved with issues that relate to current events and nonprofit campaigns, and explains more complicated topics.

I’m enjoying the opportunity to craft these Web-focused stories, and to dive into issues I care about. Read my  latest GoodSpeaks piece — New Yorkers Design World’s First Underground Green Space —  here.

Are People More Than Their Genes?

ImageThe phrase “nature versus nurture” still heavily influences perceptions of human behavior, at least in the minds of the public. But gene researchers and neurobiologists also grapple with the concept when they explore how biology and environment shape human personality.

Rather than focus on dueling forces, scientists should stress that human development is the product of complex, interwoven systems, said Denis Alexander, a molecular biologist and emeritus director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. He explored this topic during a lecture at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

For this piece, I covered talks given by Alexander and journalist Steve Paulson. I also worked with the AAAS’ Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion department to ensure the information was communicated correctly. To read the full text of the article, click here.

Scientists Should Work to Maintain the Internet as a Tool for Freedom, Diplomat Says


The Internet increases the flexibility of scientific research around the globe, but it can also be used for nefarious purposes. Some nations restrict access to digital content, and authoritarian governments spy on intellectuals through the Web, gathering information to intimidate and imprison academics.

In a talk at AAAS on Oct. 10, Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, called for scientists to speak out against digital repression.

I conducted background research on the topic, attended the meeting, and interviewed audience members before composing this story for AAAS.org.

Ancient Tomb Built to Flood — Sheds Light on Peru Water Cult?

Archaeologists in Peru thought they had discovered something special when they uncovered the tomb of a pre-Inca priestess and eight other corpses in 2011. But an even bigger find was right beneath their feet.

Continuing their search for artifacts a year later, the team dug beneath the priestess, uncovering a basement tomb they believe was meant to flood.

In this article for National Geographic News, I presented these findings, and also included the opinions of dissenting archaeologists. To read the full article, click here.

Sizing Up Wind Energy: Bigger Means Greener, Study Says

One of the most popular trends in sustainable living is to go small: Live in a small house. Drive a small car. Have a small carbon footprint. So it seems contradictory that by going big—really big—energy equipment can become better for the environment.

In this article for National Geographic News, I highlighted a study that found larger turbines in Europe greener than smaller models. I also covered why bigger turbines are better, and touched on what obstacles may slow the machines’ growth in the future. To read the full story, click here.

Spirit of the Navy Yard

To write this article about Thomas Tingey — the man who helped create the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard; burned it down to keep it from the hands of the British; and then built it up again — I searched through archives, consulted museum documents, and read books about his life. I combined factual information with lively descriptions and current-day rumors to keep the story engaging. To read the full article, click here.

Talented Toads

toadStaff at Congressional Cemetery saw a dexterous amphibian scaling a tree on the grounds, and captured the feats on film. I contacted a local expert to identify the animal, and wrote about the talented toad in our newsletter. Click here to read the full article.