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

http://students.brown.edu/seeing-theory/index.html

From Wall Street to the weather, statistics are a routine part of modern daily life. Statistical analysis is also critical to scientific advancement. And yet, even among scientists, there's a lack of understanding about how statistical tests work and what the results mean.

The group "500 Women Scientists" has nearly 17,000 members.
https://500womenscientists.org/#we-are-scientists

Shortly after last fall’s election, there was a rash of open letters from various groups within the science community asking for a range of things - strong climate policy, science-based policy, and multicultural diversity. One such letter came from a group that calls themselves 500 Women Scientists.

That name quickly became a misnomer as more than ten thousand women scientists signed the letter in a matter of weeks. Four months later, nearly 17,000 women have signed.

Arctic sea ice is on the decline, and some scientists are starting to think about a post-ice Arctic.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Each month, we check in with the crew at Nature Podcast to see what stories they've been thinking - and talking - about. Topping the list this month are stories that span some four billion years, from the beginning of life on Earth to what the Arctic of the future will look like:

The Gulf Oil Spill highlighted the need for better working relationships between academic scientists, industry, and government.
U.S. Coast Guard / Public Domain

War is generally pretty bad for the environment, and, understandably, the environment is not one of the military’s top priorities when at war. But more Navy officials are now asking questions about how to tread a bit more lightly on the environment, and some are getting scientists outside the military involved.

Chris Reddy is one example. He's a marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who specializes in oil spills, and last year, he got an email from a Navy lieutenant commander asking for his help.

The hippocampus is part of the brain responsible for forming and storing memories. In fourteen cases, opioid use has been linked to complete shutdown of blood flow to the region.
Gray's Anatomy / Wikimedia Commons, public domain

As if the epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses isn’t bad enough, a new study finds that – in a very small number of cases – opioid use has been linked to profound memory loss. It’s kind of a medical mystery story that started in November of 2015. That’s when Dr. Jed Barash, a neurologist at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, MA, brought four patients to the attention of officials at the Department of Public Health. 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP bit.ly/2lvF2ZB / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Mildred Dresselhaus - a pioneer of nanoscience, often called the Queen of Carbon for her groundbreaking studies of that element – died last week at the age of 86. Her work on the properties of thin layers and tubes of carbon laid the groundwork for carbon nanotubes found today in batteries, cars, sports equipment, biomedical devices, solar panels and the space program.

There are about 100 Blue Chromis fish in the great ocean tank at New England Aquarium
Wiki Commons

We wouldn’t have guessed it, but it’s awfully hard to get a certain little blue Caribbean fish to breed. In fact, it took an expert at the New England Aquarium a year of work to set up the right combination of mood lighting, tank feng shui, and a never-ending buffet of gourmet fish food to make it happen.

Lead biologist Monika Schmuck had two baby Blue Chromis fish at the end of all that work. It was the first time anyone in the world had successfully bred Blue Chromis in captivity.

“Today I actually got four more, so that’s a total of six,” she told WCAI.  

Given how controversial genetically modified corn is, it's no wonder that the prospect of genetically modifying humans pushes a lot of people's buttons. But we already have gene therapies, and new technologies are making it faster, safer, and less expensive to modify the human genome in a range of ways. That has the science community and policymakers scrambling to set responsible guidelines for the use of genome editing.

Speakers at the Stand Up For Science Rally in Boston's Copley Square.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

For decades, scientists have shunned direct involvement in politics. They’ve testified before Congress and provided scientific information to policymakers, of course. But most have avoided weighing in on specific policy moves out of concern that such opining could damage scientists' credibility as the source of objective, factual information. In the wake of the 2016 election, that seems to be changing.

Vaughan Turekian is Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State.
state.gov/e/stas

President Trump may not have a science advisor right now, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson does. His name is Vaughan Turekian, and he was appointed to the post in 2015. It's not a very old job; it was created by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright in 2000. It's also not a very common job; only seven foreign ministers in the world have a science advisor.

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