Liza Gross

Liza Gross, a freelance science writer and senior editor at the biomedical journal PLOS Biology, channeled an early love of wildlife into a lifelong exploration of the numerous ways diverse species, including humans, interact in the natural world. She writes mostly about wildlife, conservation, and environmental health. Her stories reflect a deep curiosity about natural and social interactions and often highlight evolutionary relationships that remind humans of their place in, and responsibility to conserve, nature. Her article "Don't Jump!" published in Slate, won an ASJA award in the op-ed category. She's a visiting scholar at NYU, a 2013 recipient of NYU Reporting Award funding and a Dennis Hunt health journalism fellow. Read her previous contributions to QUEST, a project dedicated to exploring the Science of Sustainability.

Vaccine Waivers, Informed Consent and Public Health

Starting in 2014, California will require parents to see a health practitioner to learn the risks and benefits of vaccination before opting out of the state's immunization requirements. Public health officials hope that when parents learn the difference between science-based evidence and the uninformed myths so prevalent online and in the mainstream media, they'll decide to protect their children from the real risks of infectious disease, rather than worry about unfounded theoretical risks.

Think Pink? I’d Rather Raise a Stink

Every October, high-profile outlets from Ace Hardware to the NFL sell pink products to raise awareness and money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Critics of "pinkwashing" urge consumers to ask just how much of that money goes to support breast cancer programs--and challenge us to move beyond awareness to action.

Culture Clash: Of Cats, Birds and Conservation

Feral cats threaten native wildlife, from reptiles to birds, and often lead a miserable life. By better understanding the concerns of cat colony caretakers, wildlife biologists hope to find enough common ground to benefit both cats and wildlife.

Braking for Beetles: When Recreation and Conservation Converge

The endangered Ohlone tiger beetle, found only in Santa Cruz County, depends on disturbed landscapes to hunt and breed. Migrating woolly mammoths and more recently grazing elk helped maintain that habitat. Recreational trails might prove a good replacement--as long as mountain bikers follow rules to reduce beetle casualties.

In Defense of Science: An Interview with NCSE’s Eugenie Scott

Eugenie Scott, longtime director of Oakland's National Center for Science Education, has won numerous awards for helping the public understand science and defending evolution, especially against threats to replace it with “creation science” in public schools. She shares her thoughts on the challenges of communicating science in a climate of denial.

Doubt and Denialism: Vaccine Myths Persist in the Face of Science

Many people continue to doubt the evidence for climate change, evolution, and vaccine safety, even though the scientific consensus on these issues is rock solid. Among the most troubling evidence-resistant theories is the long-debunked yet persistent myth that vaccines cause autism—a completely unfounded belief--leading to general doubts about vaccine safety, with dangerous public health consequences.

Picturing Biodiversity: Cultivating an Eye for Conservation

Environmentalists have long relied on spectacular photography to show people why wilderness is worth preserving. The nonprofit ARKive builds on that tradition, using the power of wildlife imagery, from photos to film, to promote conservation of the world's threatened species, now approaching 17,000 plants and animals, based on the latest IUCN estimates.

Tracking Big Cats to Learn Their Secrets

Learning to see the landscape through the eyes of a wild carnivore helps Bay Area residents appreciate the essential ecological roles bobcats, mountain lions, and other predators play in ecosystems. New research shows that lion leftovers feed a surprising diversity of other species.

People’s Parks: Protecting Open Spaces for Everyone

Thanks to a novel partnership between California State Parks and the Sonoma County-based nonprofit LandPaths, nearly 3,400 acres of open space filled with old-growth redwood, Douglas fir and majestic oaks in the Willow Creek watershed of the Russian River are open to visitors for the price of an hour-long orientation.

Farmworkers Pay a Heavy Price for California’s Bounty

California farmworkers work long days for about $7.50 an hour to pick fruit in orchards doused with nitrogen fertilizers. A UC Davis study released in March found that nitrates from fertilizers and dairy waste have contaminated groundwater supplies. Because farmworkers live near the fields they work in, they're at high risk for nitrate-contaminated drinking water.

The Man Who Made California Safe for Mountain Lions

More than 40 years ago, Sen. John Dunlap (D-Napa) made conservation history when his mountain lion hunting moratorium passed the California Legislature and became law in 1971. He recalls the fight to pass the bill and his guiding principle, "when in doubt, preserve."

Making Women Partners in Breast Cancer Research

Dr. Susan Love, breast cancer surgeon and women's health advocate, has long railed against cancer researchers' fixation on treatments and cures. After spending more than $4 billion on breast cancer research, we still don't know what causes the disease or how to prevent it. It's time to focus on looking for causes, she says. And she wants your help.

Salmon Runs, Grizzly Bear Dreams

Using grizzly bears in the Pacific Northwest as a proxy for the benefits salmon deliver to ecological communities, a new study argues that letting more salmon migrate into coastal streams will lead to downstream improvements for the ecosystem and eventually the offshore salmon catch.