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Research Institutions & Traditional Media

A curated selection representative of my work for both traditional media and research institutions: 

April 5, 2018: When social mobility is high, the thinking goes, people know they are likely to move into a different social class in the future—and will vote in the interests of those future selves, not necessarily their current selves. This notion dates back to at least to the mid-19th century, when French philosopher and political scholar Alexis de Tocqueville described just this kind of relationship between social mobility and democracy in his seminal book Democracy in America. Now, that conventional wisdom is being tested.

Sept. 1, 2014: When people die, Cheryl Johnston's work begins. A forensic anthropologist at Western Carolina University, Johnston oversees one of our nation's six human decomposition facilities. On a mountain slope near WCU's main campus, recently deceased donors are respectfully, but intentionally, laid to rest on the sundappled forest floor. Over a year's time, their bodies are exposed to light, rain, humidity, heat, cold, wind and wildlife. Beneath stands of mature tulip poplar, locust, oak and walnut trees they decompose until nothing remains but bone.

June 1, 2009: Folk singer Joni Mitchell told a reporter that she created her 1970 hit single "Big Yellow Taxi" after awaking on the morning of her first trip to Hawaii. She peered out from her hotel window, transfixed by lush mountains, then her eyes fell downward to a paved, urban sea of parking lots. Appalled, she penned the famous words, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot." But today, some types of pavement -- permeable, or pervious, concrete -- are designed to give something back to nature: water.

Spring 2009: UNC biologist Karin Pfennig was watching the news and checking her e-mail at home one evening when a single in-box message got her undivided attention. Someone at the National Institutes of Health was seeking more details on the grant proposal Pfennig had submitted for a $1.5 million award. She knew what this meant. " Ijumped up yelling, 'I made the short list! I made the short list!'," Pfennig recalled.  

Nov. 7, 2004: AMAZONAS, Brazil — I am rocking a 2-week-old baby in a weathered wooden shack supported by splintered stilts that have a tenuous hold on the clay banks of the Rió Negro, one of the Amazon's largest tributaries. Fatima, the baby's mother, has complained of lethargy, headaches and abdominal pain. She lounges listlessly on a threadbare couch while Teresa Madedor and Donna Sumrall, registered nurses from Orlando, set up an intravenous line for her.