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Jess Romeo

Jess Romeo is a science writer with a passion for literature and a tendency to fall down rabbit holes. Her work has appeared in Popular Science, Undark, and Scholastic classroom magazines.

Atlantic horseshoe crab (Polyphemus occidentalis) illustration from Zoology of New york (1842 - 1844) by James Ellsworth De Kay (1792-1851).

The Horseshoe Crab: Same as It Ever Was?

The seemingly static appearance of these ancient-looking arthropods presents a challenge for scientists who want to study their evolutionary history.
Babies from the City Maternity Hospital being held by the nurses and doctors who had delivered them.

How Scientists Became Advocates for Birth Control

The fight to gain scientists' support for the birth control movement proved a turning point in contraceptive science—and led to a research revolution.
Execution of Louis XVI, 1793

The Decapitation Experiments of Jean César Legallois

This French scientist conducted a series of gruesome experiments in his quest to discover the true limits of life and death.
A grizzly bear c. 1955

The Scientist Who Wanted Grizzly Bears Eliminated

In the late 1960s, two highly visible deaths from grizzly bear attacks led to a debate about whether humans and bears could coexist.
Cassava

The Taínos Refused to Grow Food. The Spanish Starved.

Rebellion against invasion triggered a series of events that would take a "swift and violent toll" on a Caribbean island's native biodiversity.
Jerrie Cobb poses next to a Mercury spaceship capsule.

How the Mercury 13 Fought to Get Women in Space

In 1962, the House of Representatives convened a special subcommittee to determine if women should be admitted into NASA’s space program.
Ynés Mexía

Ynés Mexía: Botanical Trailblazer

This Mexican-American botanist fought against the harshness of both nature and society to follow her passion for plant collecting.
Alien in a car at Baker, San Bernardino County, California, USA

Our Space Brothers Might Not Actually Look Like Little Green Men after All

If we find aliens, chances are they'll be nothing like we ever imagined.
The Bobcat Fire burns through the Angeles National Forest on September 11, 2020 north of Monrovia, California.

A Recipe for Ancient Wildfires

The earliest wildfires raged long before humans, and they only needed three ingredients to get started.
Astronaut Sidney M. Gutierrez, mission commander, pauses on the flight deck during Earth observations on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, 1994

Sidney M. Gutierrez: Shooting for the Stars

The first U.S.-born Latino astronaut to pilot a space mission blazed the long road to NASA with determination and optimism.
The Book of Miracles, c. 1550

The Long History of Comet Phobia

Even the invention of the telescope couldn't convince all people to put aside superstitions about comets.
Pensive man looking out of window

Your Brain on Quarantine

Struggling to stay inside during quarantine? Feeling bored? Anxious? Researchers say you're not alone.
Great White Shark

Sharks Before and After Jaws

The blockbuster Jaws (1975) provoked fear by portraying sharks as "mindless eating machines." But what did people think of sharks before then?
A swarm of locusts by Emil Schmidt

How the Soviet Union Turned a Plague into Propaganda

The fight against locust swarms allowed the Soviet Union to consolidate power over neighboring regions.
Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull

The Erotic Appeal of Alexander Hamilton

The handsome Founding Father has always had a robust fandom—even before the ten-dollar bill, or a certain musical.
A man wearing a surgical mask and gloves threading his needle with suture before an operation.

The Surgeons Who Said No to Gloves

In the late 1800s, doctors in German-speaking countries were having trouble agreeing on one simple thing: whether to wear gloves during surgery.
Marie Lafarge, c. 1850

The Arsenic Cake of Madame Lafarge

The first trial to use forensic toxicology electrified France in 1840 with the tale of a bad marriage and poisoned innards.
The ship María Pita departing from Coruña in 1803, engraved by Francisco Pérez

How Children Took the Smallpox Vaccine around the World

In 1803, nearly two dozen orphan boys endured long voyages and physical discomfort to transport the smallpox vaccine to Spain's colonies.
Nikolai Vavilov in prison

The Weed Scientist Who Brought Down the Wrath of Stalin

Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov's hypothesis on the evolution of rye is now accepted. But in the 1930s, his research got him arrested.