While research and outreach activities continued as usual at the nonprofit research institute PSE Healthy Energy, I was working in the background with their team and with web developers on an overhaul of PSE's public profile. Thanks to that team effort, the new website is live and looks fantastic, including the contemporary visual identity; it's populated with rich content; and, now that they have a "News" function, I finally had a place to tell their compelling birth story.
But the political fray around the topic of fracking created murky territory, and from the start, PSE’s leadership has had rigorous discussions on ensuring the scientific integrity of the research they produce. Could science be for anything? Wasn’t inquiry into the public’s health and safety just good citizenship? …“One thing scientists can advocate for is good science and the use of science in making decisions — that’s not outside our role,” Law says. “We can’t advocate for a particular cause or a particular outcome, but we also can’t shy away from findings that support a particular position.”
It was a privilege to work on this long-haul project with a distinguished team of researchers at
UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies. Managing and co-writing the public-facing report on research produced for the state, I learned a ton about rail and slung enough train-related puns and metaphors to last a lifetime.
These samples give a good sense of the 32-page glossy publication we produced. The clean, beautiful design is by longtime collaborator Betsy Joyce. The entire document is available on the California Department of Transportation website.
This cover story for Pacific Review magazine, on University of the Pacific's Institute for Family Business, was a fun departure from the science beat, and the editors did a beautiful job with the illustrations. Bonuses: I got to attend a fascinating program and search the internet so I could watch the opening segments of a few old Dallas episodes.
Feuding brothers. Extramarital affairs. A fiery end to the family mansion. Those may be plotlines from the fictional saga of a Texas oil clan in Dallas, the classic television show from the 1970s and '80s, but Douglas Box lived them. Life would imitate art as Box and his three older brothers, sons of oil-tycoon Cloyce Box… were drawn into the family business. Read more.
This program for first-gen college students is a great example of how a modest amount of support for the most vulnerable students pays society back in spades. Cohort after cohort of successful new health-science professionals creates a huge ROI - here's hoping the federal funding stays in place. Gorgeous photo by my long-time colleague Jim Block.
"A 2015 Pell Institute study found just 9 percent of students from the bottom income quartile graduate with a bachelor’s degree by age 24, compared to 77 percent for the top income quartile.... 'The quicker you get these higher-risk students through, the more likely they are to finish,' says CHSS Dean Alvin Alvarez." Read more.
This profile of UCSF Graduate Division's Alumna of the Year presented an interesting fusion of science and law. Michelle Rhyu, a leader in biotech law receiving the honor, received her PhD from UCSF and her law degree from Stanford.
“You have black, white, and then all of these shades of gray,” she says, admiring law’s focus on interpretation. But she also appreciates the purity of a question with a definitive answer. “In science, creativity is about finding clever ways to get at the answer, whereas in the law, there is room to shape the answer,” she observes, seamlessly synthesizing her dual scientist/lawyer perspectives. Read more
This story on the health impacts of noise from fracking started life as a press release and converted to a story format. It got several press pick-ups, including quotes, like this article for a West Virginia newspaper network and items in Grist and Fusion. Excited to be doing some news writing with these cool new clients working at the intersection of science and public health.
Modern oil and gas development techniques such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," produce noise at levels that may increase the risk of adverse effects on human health, including sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease and other conditions that are negatively impacted by stress, according to a study by authors at the nonprofit science and policy research institute PSE Healthy Energy and West Virginia University. It is the first peer-reviewed study to analyze the potential public health impacts of ambient noise related to fracking operations. Read more
It was inspiring to talk to the sources for this story about an organization that supports LGBT kids by using evidence-based science to encourage family support. The world could learn a few things from these guys about how to reach across cultural and religious differences towards supporting big universal values like: save the children.
Ryan and her team pursued the questions: How do parents and caregivers react to their LGBT children, and how do those behaviors contribute to their children’s risk and well-being as young adults? What emerged from that work, Ryan says, was “a solid empirical foundation for increasing family involvement and support.” The research team cataloged more than 100 specific ways in which caregivers responded to their child — with either accepting behaviors, such as standing up for them when others mistreat them or finding a positive role model — or rejecting behaviors, such as preventing them having an LGBT friend, physical and verbal abuse, and using religion to try to change or discourage their LGBT identity. Continue
I wrote this story on African river blindness for the UC Berkeley School of Optometry's annual magazine as a both backgrounder and an update on the disease. The parasite-driven menace was downgraded from a major public health crisis with the help of a UC Berkeley scientist, but it's still an issue.
This cover story for SF State Magazine on educating STEM educators was a homecoming for me: I completed the graduate program for teacher-education at SF State, earned my credential, and taught high school in the city before life led me another way. Talking to these young teachers - and their students, and their mentors - reminded me of the passion, commitment, and hard work it takes to do the job, and the great personal and societal rewards that spring from it.
Sequoia High School science teacher Donna Dela Calzada (B.A., ’06), is gleeful about the video of her mother’s polyp-removal surgery. “It’s pretty epic,” she chuckles, swiping through her iPhone to find it. Ms. D., as her students call her, showed the pulsating globules to all five of her Redwood City classes, tailoring the lesson to each group. Her biology students learned about cell mutation, and for her biotech students, she focused on tools and techniques. “They loved it and hated it — all at the same time,” she says. Continue
With its gilded dome, grand staircase and formally dressed wedding couples posing for photos that will last a lifetime, San Francisco City Hall is a character in every story that plays out there. Jared Walker remembers when it entered his life: on the first day of his internship with the Office of the City Administrator as a Willie Brown Fellow. “When I first walked in there I was like…” — he takes a deep breath and exhales with a whoa — “I felt like this was a big chapter coming up.” Continue
"By my sophomore year I was already heavily involved in politicking, getting students elected to student government. Also, I lived in housing that the school rented in Potrero Hill. I paid $14 a month rent, but the food program we had to organize ourselves. We had a treasurer, a secretary, someone responsible for buying the food. We ran our complex." Continue
“Call me Bones.” Ray Bandar (A.B., ’55; Cred., ’58) invites the use of his nickname at first meetings, and it’s a convenient shortcut to the topic that has dominated his life. The San Francisco native’s extreme exploits in bone collecting have been documented in numerous media outlets including National Geographic and NPR, and last year he curated a 10-case display for “Skulls,” the major California Academy of Sciences exhibit, which featured more than 700 titular specimens from his collection. Read more.
Production editing work included structuring the content, developing stories, and managing images. I organized and oversaw several full days of content-specific photo shoots, which yielded some stunning photographs by Paul Kirchner Studios, some of which have already been leveraged by the client for other projects. I arranged the 68-page book into three main parts, with a Preface and Last Word from external validators Congressman Mark DeSaulnier and Congresswoman Barbara Lee respectively, corralled by campus's Government Relations office.
Here are a few samples from each section, along with the full-spread, full-bleed images used for pacing.
The drought gets a lot of undeserved blame for California’s water crisis. Naturally, four dry years have exacerbated the problem, but the real culprit is the state’s Gold Rush–era water law, which has allowed landowners to sink wells that suck ever deeper and drier — unfettered by any accountability to their neighbors, their region, or the state. Historically low groundwater levels have resulted, spawning all kinds of Wild West drama. The Central Valley is sinking! A thousand Tulare County wells go dry! Fishermen, farmers, conservationists and tribes duke it out over depleted fisheries in the Scotts River. Journalistic treatises compare the political machinations to filmmaker Roman Polanski’s classic California water wars noir Chinatown.
But now that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—a trio of three bills that Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2014—has been rolling out for a full year, all that drama is behind us, right? The sheriff’s in town now. The state’s big, contentious mess of a water crisis finally is regulated. Not so fast. Continue