I am a scientist, a writer, a skeptic, and an optimist. I'm also a parent, a hiker, a sketcher, and a writer of haikus.
I earned a Bachelor of General Studies from the University of Michigan and I'm a generalist to this day.
I went to a middle school that championed open classrooms – one of the many progressive education alternatives of the 1970s. In college, I read about the Summerhill school in England, an older and more radical experiment in education. Later, my kid attended a Sudbury school, the American version of free, democratic education. As a writer, I'm exploring how today's schools are hyperfocused on academic measurement and fail students in other respects – social-emotional development, creativity, and knowing oneself.
In college, I discovered field botany and spent my final semester at the University of Michigan Biological Station, learning all the plants and birds of northern forests and fields, swamps and bogs, pine barrens and shoreline. Later as a journalist, I reported on people who chase dragonflies and damselflies for Audubon magazine, keeping life lists like birders do. I wrote about a Maine scientist who forges collaborations in environmental conservation, and thereby avoiding the more common standoffs, for Science magazine.
In college, I was introduced to the physiological bases of behavior, the biology of moods and motivation and how drugs of abuse interact with our brains. I continued on to graduate school in pharmacology and studied the behavioral effects of opioid drugs. Later as a journalist, I reported on the health effects of marijuana for the Los Angeles Times — the pros and the cons.
For the Washington Post, I write about everyday health – rashes, sleep, and cough, over-the-counter drugs, and changes that come with age. I venture into life stages: the health consequences of high school senioritis or retirement, and supportive care for older adults coming home from the hospital or those who call assisted living facilities home.