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James MacDonald

James MacDonald received a BS in Environmental Biology from Columbia and a PhD in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University, spending 4 years in Central America collecting data on fish in mangrove forests. His research has been published in scholarly journals such as Estuaries and Coasts and Biological Invasions. Until his death in the fall of 2019, James worked in fisheries management and outreach in New York.

Lion

When Predators Become Man-Eaters

It’s very rare that predators eat humans. However, every now and then, predators do develop a taste for people, such as an infamous episode in Tsavo, Kenya.
Wax moth

Will Feeding Plastic to Wax Worms Work?

The problems of plastic in the environment are well documented. Researchers may have a solution to our problem: the common wax worm.
Penguins in Antarctica

Antarctic Ice Reveals Temporary Side Effect of Carbon Pollution: Happy Plants

The rate of photosynthesis has increased dramatically over the past century. Plants have been shielding us from some of the effects of climate change.
Water Treatment Plant

Can Bacteria Improve the Water We Drink?

Municipal water treatment just got easier, cheaper, and more efficient. And it's all thanks to an unlikely helper: bacteria.
Bent Pyramid

How to Lose a Pyramid

Archaeologists recently discovered evidence of a long-lost pyramid dating to the thirteenth dynasty of Egypt’s Old Kingdom. How does a pyramid get lost?
Close-up of a pink octopus in the sea with a starfish

The Strange Genetic Trick of the Cephalopods

What makes cephalapods like octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish so intelligent? The answer might be in the way they can edit their own RNA as they go.
Tasmanian Tigers

Is The Tasmanian Tiger Really Extinct?

A team of researchers is making one last attempt to find a living Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, 30 years after its official disappearance.
Beached whales engraving

Why Do Whales Strand Themselves?

In huge pods, small groups, or as individuals, whales routinely find themselves aground or stuck in shallow water. But why do strandings happen?
insect in amber

Should We Worry About Ancient Pathogens Being Revived?

Accidental exposure to bacteria trapped inside a crystal is unlikely. Frozen ancient pathogens, however, are another matter.
TRAPPIST-1 planet illustration

M-Dwarves and the Search for Life

In recent years, astronomers have broadened their search for habitable planets to include previously ignored stars like M-dwarves.
solar panels

Are Some Solar Panels More Environmentally Friendly Than Others?

A new solar process utilizing nanoparticles has to potential to nearly double the energy output per unit area of solar panels.
Otzi the Iceman's hat

The Unsolved Case of Ötzi the Iceman

Clues have emerged in a very cold case: the Copper Age killing of Ötzi the Iceman. What do we know about this well-preserved mummy?
old exercise equipment

Whole Body Vibration Isn’t Quite As Crazy As It Sounds

Is whole body vibration the latest weight-loss fad? Or a legitimate medical treatment with potential to help those who can't exercise?
Anza Borrego Desert State Park Wildflowers,CA

When the Desert Blooms

Following a winter of exceptional rain, Southern California's desert wildflowers have bloomed en masse. The event is dubbed a “super bloom.”
Frog in water

Why Did the Amphibian Cross the Road?

Why are frogs so much more at risk of getting hit by cars in the spring time? It has to do with breeding, timing, and water.
DNA genetic analysis results

A New Kind of DNA Evidence

Should familial DNA be used in forensic investigations? How it works -- and some of the potential problems with the practice.
Gypsum crystals of the Naica cave.

Exploring Mexico’s Otherworldly Cave of Crystals

The Cave of Crystals is a massive cavern, filled with gigantic gypsum crystals, larger than any crystals ever before seen on Earth.
Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur depicts a horned Texas lizard

The Craziest Ways Animals Escape Their Predators

From shedding skin to making slime to shooting blood out of their eyes, these animals have defense mechanisms that are convincing, to say the least.
karst

The Incredible Unsung Karst Ecosystem

One of the world’s most incredible, yet unsung, ecosystems, karsts are home to a remarkable biological diversity.
Aral Sea Ships

The Agonizing Death of the Aral Sea

After decades of environmental disaster, fish and wildlife may rebound to Central Asia's Aral Sea, but the lake will never be restored to its former glory.
plastic grocery bag

How Should We Deal With Plastic Bags?

A proposed 5-cent plastic bag fee was just blocked in New York City. What can be done to effectively reduce plastic bag use?
Indian Cobra

Venom’s Healing Touch

Venom kills thousands every year, but research is showing that venom can heal as well. Venom works in a way that most drugs can only dream of.
American Pika

The World’s Cutest Mammal on the Brink

The Ili Piku, aka "Magic Rabbit," of China is endangered. But Pika populations are declining globally, not just in China.
friends socializing at table

The Secret Ingredient For Better Self-Care

One form of preventative medicine that is important, and which health policy barely considers: social connections between people.
nuclear blast

The Doomsday Clock: Menacing Metaphor of the Nuclear Age

Pessimism is on the rise. Mercurial politicians, rising nationalism and isolationism, international bluster, a changing climate, mass protests, ...