Heather Goldstone

Science Editor and Host of Living Lab

Heather Goldstone is science editor at WCAI and host of Living Lab on The Point, a weekly show exploring how science gets done and makes its way into our daily lives. Goldstone holds a Ph.D. in ocean science from M.I.T. and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and spent a decade as researcher before leaving the lab to pursue journalism. She has reported extensively on Woods Hole’s unique scientific community and key environmental issues on Cape Cod. Her stories have appeared in outlets ranging from Cape Cod Times and Commercial Fishery News to NPR and PBS News Hour. Most recently, Goldstone hosted Climatide.org, an NPR-sponsored blog exploring present-day impacts of climate change on coastal life.

Ways to Connect

Anne Brunet is identifying the mechanisms of aging.
Stanford University / http://bit.ly/2hhlHxh

Death may be inevitable. But what about aging? If we could figure out what biological switches get flipped to start the process of decline, could we reverse it? Even prevent it?

Repeated head trauma during football is linked to increased risk of neurodenerative disease, CTE.
Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons / U. S. Air Force

There’s more evidence that playing football can lead to permanent brain damage. But the problem likely isn’t as prevalent as many media accounts have suggested.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated head trauma. Symptoms include dementia and mood or behavioral disorders. It was first described in boxers several decades ago, but has been found in NFL players in the past five years.

Smartphone use before bed can affect sleep quality.
Public domain

Dr. Saul Rosenthal, a clinical health psychologist from Newton, Massachusetts, saw his first patient with internet addiction about 12 years ago. He says it's a problem that's on the rise, and a particularly difficult one to diagnose and treat.

"Off The River - Journal Entry" is one of Robert Perkins' multi-media pieces in the "Risk in the Marine Environment" exhibit.
Courtesy of Robert Perkins / Sargent Gallery

Human activities are altering rivers and ocean ecosystems in dramatic ways. Science is one way of knowing this, and of communicating it. But it’s not always the most effective way.

Robert F. Perkins is a multimedia artist who has been solo canoeing in the Arctic for close to thirty years. He’s also canoed the Limpopo River in Africa, and the Connecticut River – right here in our own backyard.

Not surprisingly, he says there's a common theme: more people, more contamination and degradation.

Mud plumes follow Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawlers like con trails follow airplanes.
NASA image by Jesse Allen, data from Univ. Maryland Global Land Cover Facility. / Public Domain

Roughly a fifth of all fish eaten globally are caught using nets towed along the bottom of the ocean. There’s long been concern that this method – known as trawling – destroys or severely damages the ecosystems where it’s used. Now, a new meta-analysis of the science available on this topic offers some quantification of the impacts of different type of trawls.  

Dunk Works opens to a wider group of organizations on August 1.
Elsa Partan

Maker spaces have popped up everywhere, typically outfitted with tools and materials that allow people to try making their prototype dreams a reality. Now, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has just launched a maker space for ocean-related innovations called “Dunk Works,” a play on Lockheed Martin’s legendary Skunk Works lab.

President Trump has nominated former talk radio host and campaign advisor, Sam Clovis, to be chief scientist at USDA.
Alex Hanson/flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

President Trump last week nominated Sam Clovis to be chief scientist for the USDA, formally known as the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.  Clovis is a former economics professor, better known as a conservative talk radio host and Trump campaign advisor. One thing he is not is a scientist, and that has drawn harsh criticism professional organizations of scientists.

Entanglement in fishing gear is the suspected cause of death for some of the eight North Atlantic right whales found dead in recent weeks.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The story of a species' decline is usually a slow-moving one. Not so for North Atlantic right whales this summer. Eight individuals have died in Canadian waters in the past two months, prompting alarm from researchers and an unprecedented response from Canadian officials. Here's where things stand right now:

CC0 Public Domain

Researchers at Griffiths University in Australia have tackled the age-old question of why birds do, or don't, cross the road. After hours observing birds near and crossing roads around Brisbane, they found that many birds - particularly small, forest-dwelling species – avoid crossing roads, even when they can fly across them. The bigger the road, the stronger the effect.

They’re not sure exactly why, but say it may be fear of exposing themselves to predators. Or, they may be using roads as territorial boundaries.

Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project is currently one of the largest energy storage systems in Massachusetts.
Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project

Massachusetts is pushing hard on the renewable energy front, with more than 1600MW solar installed and a target of 1600MW offshore wind energy by 2020. Since sunshine and wind don’t always match consumer demand for electricity, the Commonwealth has set a goal of 200MWh of energy storage capacity by 2020, and is putting more than $10 million into energy storage research and demonstration projects.