Neuroscientist-turned-Science Writer

Sharing health and life science stories with the public through writing, podcasting, and media relations

    Open to public information officer, freelance writing, grant writing and copyediting roles.
    Professional experience writing, editing and consulting on news and feature articles, press releases, blogs, podcast scripts, social media content, research manuscripts, grant proposals, newsletters and more. 

    Originally from the New York metropolitan area, I worked at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. before moving to San Diego to pursue my Ph.D. in neuroscience. After nearly a decade of research experience studying the brain at molecular, cellular, circuit and cognitive scales, I officially traded the pipette for the press release and now work full-time as an institutional and freelance science writer. I love engaging with scientists in the health and life sciences and helping them share their discoveries with all sorts of audiences.

      Recent Highlights

      Stress-Tolerant Cells Drive Tumor Initiation in Pancreatic Cancer

      Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a molecular pathway critical to the initiation of pancreatic tumors. The mechanism could also contribute to the disease’s high resistance to chemotherapy and its propensity for metastasis. The study, published on January 16, 2022 in Nature Cell Biology, found that pancreatic tumor-initiating cells must first overcome local ‘isolation stress’ by creating their own tumor-promoting microenvironment, and then recrui

      Tissue-Specific Immunity May Be the Future, if We Can First Learn its Rules

      After experiencing an infection, the immune system leaves behind memory T cells, which maintain a long-lasting molecular memory of the pathogen and are ready to sound the alarm if it ever returns. While some memory T cells are designed to circulate through the bloodstream and provide whole-body protection, others reside in specific organs and are specialized to fight the pathogens that target that part of the body. These T cells can provide life-long immunity at the target tissue, but can also c

      Enzyme Drives Cognitive Decline in Mice, Provides New Target for Alzheimer’s

      “We were surprised to find that just a slight increase in PKCα activity was enough to recreate the Alzheimer’s phenotype in a mouse,” said senior author Alexandra C. Newton, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This is an amazing example of the importance of homeostasis in biology — even minor tweaks in kinase activity can result in pathology if the effects are allowed to accumulate over a lifetime.” To confirm whether similar enzymatic changes could

      UC San Diego Sanford Stem Cell Institute Launches Stem Cells Into Space

      When astronaut Scott Kelly returned from a year-long trip aboard the International Space Station (ISS), lab tests revealed telomeric and pre-leukemic changes in his blood cells. These sorts of cellular changes had been observed in blood before, but only after decades of human aging. Increasing evidence suggests that space and its lack of gravity can simulate and quicken aging in human stem cells, including those that give rise to blood cells. But understanding this process is not only useful fo

      New Efforts to Relate Brain Structure and Function Reveal Surprising Properties of Neural Circuits

      Nematodes don’t like to be touched. A poke will send the worm slithering backward, away from the bothersome nudge. Unless, that is, the worm was in the midst of turning when it was poked. “Somehow, the act of turning makes the worm change the way it responds to this very salient stimulus, but we didn’t know how this computation played out in the brain,” says Andrew Leifer, a neuroscientist at Princeton University and an investigator with the Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain. Despite havi

      Cancer Patients Facing Housing Instability Show Greater Risk of Mortality

      “We wanted to understand what social and economic issues patients were facing when they first came in with a cancer diagnosis and how those might affect their long-term health,” said corresponding author Matthew P. Banegas, PhD, associate professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine and co-director of the Center for Health Equity Education and Research. To evaluate patients’ ‘baseline’ social risk, the researchers looked at data from patients who completed a social risk survey within 90 da

      UC San Diego Joins NIH ‘Bridge to Artificial Intelligence’ Program

      Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have been selected to lead components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund’s Bridge to Artificial Intelligence (Bridge2AI) program. Over the next four years, Bridge2AI will award $130 million to accelerate the widespread use of AI in biomedical research and health care. Physicians and scientists have long recognized the potential of AI to help understand and treat disease, but its use in clinical and research

      Violence is Common and Increasing in Pandemic-Era California

      Women also showed greater mental health impacts and life disruptions due to violent experiences, with 82 percent of women reporting anxiety or depression as a result of physically aggressive, coercive or forced sexual behavior. Women who reported physical violence were also twice as likely as men to miss work or school as well as change or quit a job. Socially and economically vulnerable Californians — including Latino and Black communities, LGBTQ communities, people with a history of homelessn

      Did gonorrhea give us grandparents?

      Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine previously found a set of human gene mutations that protect older adults against cognitive decline and dementia. In a new study, published July 9, 2022 in Molecular Biology and Evolution, they focus on one of these mutated genes and attempt to trace its evolution ⁠— when and why it appeared in the human genome. The findings suggest selective pressure from infectious pathogens like gonorrhea may have promoted the emergence of th

      Disparities in United States COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

      When reports showed COVID-19 vaccination rates were lower among racial/ethnic minority groups, most discussions focused on mistrust and misinformation among these populations or their reduced access to health care facilities. But new research from University of California San Diego and collaborating institutions has identified an additional barrier to equity: whether or not each health care facility actually received and administered vaccines. In a study published July 28, 2022 in PLOS Medicine

      Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Pain by Separating it from the Self

      For centuries, people have been using mindfulness meditation to try to relieve their pain, but neuroscientists have only recently been able to test if and how this actually works. In the latest of these efforts, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine measured the effects of mindfulness on pain perception and brain activity. The study, published July 7, 2022 in PAIN, showed that mindfulness meditation interrupted the communication between brain areas involved in pai

      Old Drugs Offer a New Route for Exploring Neural Dynamics

      Though humans have been exploring psychoactive drugs since ancient times, how they actually work remains largely a mystery. Researchers have made extensive progress unpacking the biochemical impacts of different drugs, such as their target molecules and how they shape synaptic transmission. But uncovering how specific drugs alter neural activity to enhance attention, alleviate depression or dampen tremors remains a much more difficult challenge. This is beginning to change, though, as researcher

      COVID-19 Rebound after Taking Paxlovid Likely Due to Insufficient Drug Exposure

      Paxlovid is the leading oral medication for preventing severe cases of COVID-19 in high-risk individuals. However, symptoms returned in some patients after treatment was completed, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a health advisory on this so-called “COVID-19 rebound.” In a study published June 20, 2022 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine evaluated one such patient and found their symptom re

      COVID-19 on the Brain: Neurological Symptoms Persist in Majority of Long-Haulers

      Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine are conducting a longitudinal study to track neurological symptoms in COVID-19 “long-haulers.” The first round of results, published June 15, 2022 in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, revealed the prevalence of various short- and long-term symptoms and found that, while many patients showed improvement, the majority still had some neurological symptoms after six months. A subset of individuals also exhibited sign

      Pharmacists at Higher Risk of Suicide than General Population, Study Finds

      The pandemic put a spotlight on mental health and burnout within health care professions, but emerging research reveals these issues have been affecting health care workers for years, with suicide rates notably high among physicians and nurses. But until now, less was known about the mental health of pharmacists. In the first study to report pharmacist suicide rates in the United States, researchers from Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California and UC S

      Gene Therapy Reverses Effects of Autism-Linked Mutation in Brain Organoids

      In a study published May 02, 2022 in Nature Communications, scientists at University of California San Diego School of Medicine used human brain organoids to reveal how a genetic mutation associated with a profound form of autism disrupts neural development. Using gene therapy tools to recover the gene’s function effectively rescued neural structure and function. Several neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and schizophrenia have been linked to m

      E-cigarettes Alter Inflammatory State of Brain, Heart, Lungs and Colon

      Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that daily use of pod-based e-cigarettes alters the inflammatory state across multiple organ systems including the brain, heart, lungs and colon. Effects also vary depending on the e-cigarette flavor, and can influence how organs respond to infections, such as SARS-CoV-2. The study, published April 12, 2022 in the journal eLife, is the first to assess JUUL devices and their flavorants in a multi-organ fashion. “These p
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