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The WellAn Excerpt

by Leave a comment The Well
I think I’ve lived in dreams, so much so that I can’t separate them from memory. I thought I had fallen down the stairs, was as sure of it as I was of that feeling when gravity pulls you down. But, that was just a dream. I used to dream about drowning. But, that was a memory, after all. Read more

The LakeAn Excerpt

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We all come from the water, and someday we will return to it. Our bodies will die and come apart, fragmenting into pieces of a once intricate puzzle. What’s left will wash away and seep into the earth, which will drink us up thirstily. And then new life will come forth, because we’ve given ourselves over to something greater. I never feel quite as small, quite as insignificant, as when I behold the ocean. I like to think of it as a calling to the sea within, an internal compass that reminds me of where I came from, where we all came from. Maybe it’s that feeling of obsoleteness that made me afraid of water for so many years – that, and a lack of faith in any sort of ordered design, in anything but existence borne out of chaos through chance alone like waves crashing into each other in an everlasting current. Read more

Mummy DNA Uncovers Secrets of Ancient Egyptians' Ancestry

by Leave a comment Mummy DNA Uncovers Secrets of Ancient Egyptians' Ancestry
Before I decided to go into biomedical science, I wanted to be an Egyptologist. Inspired in part by Indiana Jones, I had grand notions of adventure and discovery in the Sahara Desert. The pyramids, the Sphinx, ancient hieroglyphics, and pharaohs – these all fascinated me, but none as much as mummification, a ritual that preserves the body for traveling into the afterlife where it reunites with the soul. A new study, published in May in Nature Communications, has now unlocked another secret of the past hidden in the DNA of ancient Egyptian mummies. As an amateur historian of ancient Egypt and a trained scientist who studied viral genetics, this discovery immediately caught my eye. Read more

Learning by DoingMy Journey Towards Science Writing

by Leave a comment Learning by Doing
Grad school is hard. Most who have been there would agree. The long hours are draining to be sure, but that’s not the hardest part. It’s the constant requirement to prove – that your hypothesis is correct (or incorrect) and why, that your work is meaningful, that you are capable of thinking independently, that you can tackle a challenge and persevere, and above all that you’ve truly earned your degree. There are many hoops to jump through, many hurdles and pitfalls, but on the other side of this lengthy obstacle course awaits accomplishment, and if you’re lucky, you’ll make some great friends along the way. Read more

BurnedAn Excerpt

by Leave a comment Burned
When I crossed the threshold of the local dive bar, I walked directly into a Wall of Sound. The band’s lead singer was screaming into his mic with a nasal bravado that I couldn’t parse. Three amped up guitarists played fast and repetitively with limited chords that reverberated and clashed into one another like a car wreck. Headbangers shoved each other in a growing mosh pit in front of the stage. Read more

The Dreamers’ ParadoxA review of Hanya Yanagihara's
The People in the Trees

by Leave a comment The Dreamers’ Paradox
When Dr. Norton Perina first meets Eve deep in the jungle of a small, isolated Micronesian island called Ivu’ivu, he knows that he’s witnessing something truly alien. Her movements are inhuman, even zombie-like, her behavior unnatural, demented; she’s more of a creature than a person, “…as if she had once, long ago, been taught how to behave as a human and was slowly, steadily forgetting.” (p. 141) She is called “Eve, the first woman of her kind” (p. 147). What Perina later finds is that there are others like her; she is a mo’o kua’au, an Ivu’ivuan word that translates to “without voice” or “without conversation”, and more roughly to “without friends” or “without love” – they are “the dreamers”. These lost souls and the genesis of their condition – a rare, mythologized species of turtle – will become the focus of Perina’s scientific research. Their exploitation will bring him fame and ultimately destroy a civilization. Read more

Innocence

by Leave a comment Innocence
A 9-year-old girl sat alone, dark curly hair and nerves, running her fingers through the soft grass of summer. Honeybees carried pollen from flower to flower, busy at their work and paying her no attention, which she enjoyed because she could observe them up close as they gathered for the hive. Ada was blowing dandelion seeds into the wind, watching them dance and twirl and fly away, when a call for morning prayer required her participation. She walked tentatively toward the circle of Christians holding hands to find her place among the safety of the “adults,” summer camp counselors no older than 25. The words were never familiar to her, so she mouthed along as best she could – it was easier to fake it than to be the only one abstaining from the ritual. Jesus, sin, God, these words carried little meaning to her. Read more

Connecting with Dr. K

by LAUREN A.R. TOMPKINS Leave a comment Connecting with Dr. K
I remember the day I got the call from Dr. K inviting me to an interview. I had just graduated from The College of Wooster, a small liberal arts school in Ohio, and knew little about having a real job in the real world. Yet, there I was, in amazed disbelief that I would soon be interviewing for – not just any job – THE job, the one I wanted most, but was surely unqualified for, or so I thought, especially since it was the heart of the financial crisis of 2008, so the job market was competitive, if not virtually obsolete. It was all so surreal, almost too good to be true, but some experiences live up to their potential. Read more

Living Between Pages

by Leave a comment Living Between Pages
In my home two bookcases stand tall holding the weight of innumerable novels. Their spines line up one against the other, illustrating a landscape of possibilities. The canons of classical authors and Nobel Laureates intermingle with works by promising rookie novelists and Young Adult trilogies teeming with youthful angst and campy, yet enthralling narratives. Some of the books were gleaned from thrift shops – rare gifts of old classics printed at the turn of the 20th century, books with simplistic cloth covers that when opened emit the perfume of time. There may be a dedication on the title page, occasionally with a personal note to whomever the book was gifted, exchanges made long ago between two people whom I’ve never met, yet to whom I can’t help but feel a connection. That is what’s so special about books; they are immutable pieces of history that pass through time, changing places and exchanging hands, bringing people together in an intangible way. Then there are the newer books, ones that lack years spent on shelves, but are fated to become classics in some distant future. These books have intricate covers that suggest the mysteries that unfold within, covers that are works of art. Old books and new books stand together in protest against technologies that threaten to make the printed word obsolete. Read more