Other Writing

This page includes nearly everything I’ve ever written or edited, in roughly chronological order from most recent (at top) to oldest (at bottom). These pieces, viewed together, paint the arc of an individual’s progress.


Flea anatomy observed by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, described in a letter of 1693.

Asimov Press (Editor's Column)

Fast Biology

Works in Progress

Every grain of rice

The Latecomer

A Holistic View of the Cell

Codon (Personal Blog)

Codon was folded into Asimov Press in December 2023.

The Codon Guide to Synthetic Biology // What Biology Can Learn from Physics // how to write on the internet (& keep doing it) // A Protein Printer // Reasons to Be Grateful for Biotechnology // Gene-Edited Bananas// Everything Wrong with Mouse Studies (Kinda) // Biology is a Burrito // A Brief History of Parafilm // De-Extinction? Surely You’re Joking! // Making DNA: The Quest for Synthetic Life // AI for Science: Dreams of Progress // Life At Every Scale

Asimov (Technical Blog)

Metabolic Simulator // Medicine-Making Tools // Announcing Asimov Press// Genetic Design in 7 Experiments // Asimov Labs // GitHub is to Code as ___ is to DNA // AI-Designed Promoters // AAV Foundations // Lift Off

New Science

(Editor) New Science’s Report on the NIH // (Editor) Reversing 1.5 Billion Years of Evolution // (Editor) Towards a Universal Immunotherapy // (Editor) A Call for Context (in Cell Culture) // The Laws of Science // (Editor) Molecular Missionaries // (Editor) Research Papers Used to Have Style. What Happened? // Rejected Grants Are Good for You // (Editor) Engineering Stable Microbes // (Editor) Measure Proteins in Place

Scientific American

Mosquitoes See Red (Literally) when They Smell Human Breath // Newly Studied Proteins Expand CRISPR’s Editing Range

Retraction Watch

Clinical trial paper that made anemia drug look safer than it is will be retracted // Prominent Chinese scientist failed to disclose company ties in COVID-19 clinical trial paper // Ecologist who lost thesis awards earns expressions of concern after laptop stolen // Editor declines to correct paper with duplicated image after earlier study disappears // University in Japan revokes doctorate for plagiarism of text, image // The rector who resigned after plagiarizing a student’s PhD thesis // An author asked for multiple corrections to a paper. PLOS ONE decided to retract it. // Seven barred from research after plagiarism, duplications in eleven papers // Paper claiming Muslim patients are “particularly sensitive” retracted // Editor who opined on author excuses has paper subjected to an expression of concern // “Riddled with errors”: Study of cell phones and breast cancer retracted // University clears scientist of logging industry’s misconduct allegations // After grad student suicide, misconduct findings, university suspends professor // Bad blood at a lab leads to retraction after postdoc publishes study without the supervisor’s permission // University of Tennessee investigation finds manipulated images in Science paper // Meet the postdoc who says he’s been trying to retract his own paper since 2016 // Eleven papers corrected after nutrition prof fails to disclose patent, company ties // Leading evidence-based group blames pandemic for 9-month delay pulling flawed cancer review // Mathematician ranked as Clarivate “highly cited researcher” has third paper retracted // Journal pulls two studies that listed an author without his permission // What is a figure about budgies doing in four different plant papers? // “The whole thing is yucky:” When you’re surprised to find yourself as an author on a paper // “I don’t think I slept for a day and a half:” Bad news for study about bad news

The Counter

Foodborne diseases kill thousands of Americans each year. Tracing food with genetically engineered spores could help

Earth Island Journal

Illinois Wind Farm Project Threatens Rare Frog Species


New this ski season: A jacket brewed like spider’s silk (with John Cumbers) // Meet eight tech titans investing In synthetic biology (with John Cumbers)

Spectrum News

Switching neurons on and off to probe autism circuits // Autism brain signature most pronounced in sensory areas // New tool transforms, compares dissimilar brain maps // Six steps to using machine learning for animal behavior research // Spectrum Index: Self-harm hospitalizations, everolimus flops in phase 2 trial // By the Numbers: Suspensions, unemployment, health checks // Modified CRISPR tool boosts UBE3A levels in mice // Psychiatric conditions hospitalize almost one in four autistic women by age 25 // Autistic LGBTQ+ people report frequent mental health problems // Clinicians lack confidence in diagnostic interviews with Black mothers // Spectrum wins four national Azbee awards // Spectrum Index: Dip in autism screening, null cancer risk, therapist surge // Deep-learning tool tracks interacting animals in real time // By the Numbers: Services cliff, hospital costs, co-occurring ADHD // Miniature microscope records thousands of neurons in moving mice // Open-source algorithm automates common marble-burying assay // Spectrum Index: Rare genetic diagnoses, obesity odds, violence against children // By the Numbers: Mental health diagnoses, melatonin-tied polypharmacy, journal gender gap// Health-care barriers prevent many autistic people from seeking medical treatment // Electronic health record alerts for physicians boost autism study enrollment // Controlling neurons with ultrasound: Q&A with Sreekanth Chalasani // Spectrum Index: IQ deviations, rural disparities and underweight infants // Women outnumbered among editors of top journals in neuroscience, but not in autism // By the Numbers: Autism funding over time, West African research, racial reporting // Most autism intervention studies lack data on race, ethnicity // Anorexia before or during pregnancy linked to having a child with autism // By the Numbers: Unequal ABA access, autism incidence by insurance type, criminal charges counts // Autism Drug Trial Tracker // Introducing Spectrum’s Autism Drug Trial Tracker // By the Numbers: Autism in translation, rising prevalence figures, intelligence quotients // ‘Pay-to-participate’ autism stem-cells paper retracted // By the Numbers: Black neuroscience speakers, mildly effective CBT, autism’s diagnostic odyssey // Age at autism diagnosis, first intervention drops to under 3 years // Cognitive behavioral therapy may be only mildly effective for anxious, autistic children // By the Numbers: Preschool antipsychotics, COVID-19 vaccinations, delayed autism diagnoses // Missed check-ups, delayed autism diagnoses among low-income children // Few autism researchers plan to attend conferences in person this year: Survey // Q&A with W. David Lohr: Antipsychotics, polypharmacy among autistic preschoolers // By the Numbers: Machine learning, dementia link, antipsychotics while pregnant // Autism mouse models cluster by brain activity pattern // Autism study earns ‘expression of concern’ over unavailable data // Protein atlas doubles number of known interactions in mice // By the Numbers: Coronavirus infection odds, Medicaid waivers, correlating conditions // Sex, age of diagnosis correlate with autism comorbidities // Ultra-rare variants point to new autism candidate genes // Beyond the Bench: A conversation with Ofer Yizhar // Method tracks neuron paths, gene expression simultaneously // Q&A with Richard Bethlehem: What goes into a Brainhack // New optogenetics technique minimizes thermal damage to neurons // Polypharmacy, shifting prescriptions common for autism comorbidities // By the Numbers: Polypharmacy, outpatient autism care, pandemic behaviors // Disrupted cell skeletons may explain brain wiring changes in autism-linked condition // Wireless optogenetic devices sync neurons among mice // Copyright claim prompts retraction of study on alexithymia in autism


Automated biology is now an affordable reality // How aquaculture innovation can save seafood // How automation and machine learning help explore the dark corners of the genome // Spiber’s biomaterials stack: From new production facility to fashion runway // One lab in Germany is using robots to advance computer-aided synthetic biology // Synthetic biology gets a makeover with Evonetix’s DNA synthesis technology // How synthetic biology is dyeing the future of fashion // Synthetic biology for sustainable cities (with John Cumbers) // Why carbon recycling could be synthetic biology’s crowning achievement // Biology unlocked: Emerging applications of cell-free systems // Biotechnology meets fashion and sports performance: Trends in the apparel industry // Find a needle in the cancer haystack // Living medicines: Engineering the microbiome // Synthetic biology and reproducibility meet on the internet (of things) // Synthetic life: Made from scratch // Scientists are engineering organisms to create new materials

Caltech Letters

Decoding the language of genomes (with Suzy Beeler) // How synthetic biologists could save the Cavendish banana from the brink of collapse


A light switch for cutting DNA // How a Minnesota town cut back on salt // [Audio] What does the coronavirus sound like? // AI can’t color old photos accurately. Here’s why // AI can make music. But will it replace your favorite musician? // Hackers set their sights on 3D printers // Black veterans more likely to test positive for coronavirus than white veterans // Viral genome built in a test tube

Massive Science

A proposal to use CRISPR to prevent opioid overdoses is a useless approach to healthcare // Here’s why many CRISPR/Cas9 experiments could be wrong – and how to fix them // New parasitic interaction discovered in Antarctic lakes // Fighting cancer with exploding antibody-filled bacteria

Little Village Magazine

Iowa’s dwindling bee population is part of a larger, frightening trend (cover story) // UI students are rewiring genes to create biodegradable plastic // By ‘poking’ cells, a University of Iowa lab studies the science of healing // Six groundbreaking research projects at the University of Iowa // The best and worst of 2017 (science)

The Official PLOS Blog

Science Behind-the-Scenes: Multiplexed CRISPR and sgRNA arrays with the Howard Salis lab // CRISPR for metabolic engineering with Dr. Raphael Ferreira // Engineering microbial consortia with Dr. Marika Ziesack // Tethered ribosomes with Dr. Erik Carlson // Do-It-Yourself OD measurements with Dr. Chinna Devarapu and Vamsi Yallapgragada