This October, Erich Hoyt (’86) published his latest book, “Planktonia: The nightly migration of the ocean’s smallest creatures.” Hoyt describes it as a story of “pioneer researchers, citizen scientists and diver-photographers who venture in the middle of the night into the open ocean to try to capture this great vertical migration that happens all over the ocean.”
The large format book, published by Firefly books, displays a carefully curated selection of about 150 state-of-the-art, high resolution macro-photographic images, many of creatures never photographed before and some previously unknown to science, says Hoyt. “The planktonic larval forms are subject to different evolutionary pressures and looking nothing like the adults they will become.”
Excerpts from Planktonia were published in the October issue of Natural History Magazine and in Geographical magazine, and the book was recently selected by BBC Wildlife as one of the best popular science books on marine and coastal wildlife.
Hoyt lives in Dorset, England, where he is research fellow with Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) and co-chairs the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force which works with scientists to Important Marine Mammal Areas.
In other book news, Jason Bittel (‘21) has inked a deal to write a “Sort of Funny Field Guide,” described by Publishers Marketplace as a “wry take on the traditional field guide, featuring the secret lives and oddball behaviors of iconic North American species from the lightning bug to the bison.” The book is slated to be published in spring 2025 by National Geographic.
The deal comes on the heels of Bittel publishing a children’s book, “Animals Lost and Found: Stories of Extinction, Conservation, and Survival,” with DK/Penguin. “It’s about extinct, endangered, rediscovered, and recovering species,” said Bittel, “and is meant for ages 7 and up.” Illustrated by Jonathan Woodward, the book teaches kids “about how natural and unnatural extinction relates to the world we live in today, in a clear and easy way.”
The debut book from Kathleen McLaughlin ( ’15), “Blood Money: The Story of Life, Death, and Profit Inside America’s Blood Industry,” will hit bookshelves this January, courtesy of Simon & Schuster. On Twitter, McLaughlin described the book as a personal story about “the economic precarity that drives millions of people to sell their blood in the U.S., and how that giant pool flows around the world.”
Wrote McLaughlin, “The most surprising thing in all this reporting over the course of several years? When I tell you it’s millions of people who sell their blood in America, I’m not exaggerating. Millions.”
“Blood Money” is currently available for preorder.
Roberta Kwok (’21) has signed a deal with Sourcebooks to publish her first book, “Minutiae: The Tiny Details That Scientists Pursue to Illuminate Big Questions.” Kwok developed the proposal for the book during her time as a KSJ Project Fellow. Publishers Marketplace describes it as a book that will reveal “the unseen labor behind scientific progress, focusing not on the results of research often seen in the news but on the painstaking and messy process of obtaining them.”
Aleszu Bajak (‘14) took home the National Press Foundation’s 2022 Innovative Storytelling Award, along with collaborator Ramon Padilla, for their USA Today story, “‘Hope’ is out, ‘fight’ is in,” which revealed trends in congressional partisanship on Twitter. From the foundation’s press release, “Bajak analyzed more than 2.8 million Tweets from members of Congress to create an engrossing interactive report on the rise of partisanship on Twitter since 2011.”
For Bajak, the honor marks a successful close to his stint as a senior data reporter at the storied newspaper. In TK, he left that post to become director of data visualization at the Urban institute.
Ambiental, the Brazilian news startup founded by former KSJ fellow Thiago Medaglia (’20), won yet another grant from the Google News Initiative, this one as part of the Innovation Challenge program. The new funding will allow Medaglia and his colleagues to pursue a project to create a web app that will provide environmental data on the Amazon to Brazilian journalists.
“Ambiental Media will use the web app to publish our own Amazon-wide analyses, such as the Amazon Water Impact Index, and to document new APIs for accessing our data,” writes Medaglia. “We will also democratize access to existing information, by fact-checking and hosting the most trustworthy environmental datasets, including international datasets that could be relevant to our national context, like satellite data.”
The announcement caps a successful year that saw Ambiental bring home several journalism awards, including Open Knowledge Brasil’s Cláudio Weber Data Journalism Award and third place in the data visualization category of the World Association of News Publishers’ Digital Media Awards.
Tasmiha Khan (‘22) was selected as one of 15 Ferris – UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellows. The fellowship offers $10,000 reporting grants to journalists reporting in-depth print and audio stories on the science, policy, business and culture of psychedelics. Tasmiha is working on a story about psychedelics and American Muslims.
Here’s what other alumni are writing, a compendium from Federico Kukso (‘16):
Jared Whitlock (‘22): “Father starts lab after intellectual property issues stymie rare disease drug development”; “A biotech paused a gene therapy hatched by families. Now they want control,” Endpoints News.
Andrada Fiscutean (‘20): “3 ways China’s access to TikTok data is a security risk,” CSO.
Pakinam Amer (‘19): “‘Chatty Turtles’ Flip the Script on the Evolutionary Origins of Vocalization in Animals,” Scientific American.
Teresa Carr (‘18): “Researchers Ask: Does Enforcing Civility Stifle Online Debate?” Undark.
Fabio Turone (‘17): “Italy’s researchers fear ministry merger,” Research Professional News.
Federico Kukso (’16): “How truffles took root around the world,” Knowable Magazine.
Betsy Mason (’16): “Shy Raccoons Are Better Learners Than Bold Ones, Study Finds,” The New York Times.
Olga Dobrovidova (‘15): “In disrupted Russian academy election, researchers find signs of state meddling,” Science.
Giovana Girardi (‘15): “For the Amazon, Bolsonaro’s government had the devastating effect of an El Niño,” Piauí (in Portuguese).
Maryn McKenna (‘14): “The UK Is Enduring an Onslaught of Scarlet Fever. Is the US Next?” Wired.
Yves Sciama (‘14): “‘Frankenviruses’ at the heart of the debates, after the emergence of Covid-19,” Le Monde (in French).
Pablo Correa (‘13): “A new history for the tropical forests of the Americas,” Knowable Magazine.
Daniela Hirschfeld (‘11): “The two sides of the science coin,” Montevideo Portal (in Spanish).
Valeria Román (‘06): “When did humans populate South America? A study opens the door to a new hypothesis,” Infobae (in Spanish).
Annalee Newitz (‘03): “Why the tech apocalypse of 2022 was largely a good thing,” New Scientist.
Robin Lloyd (‘99): “A Growing Drinking Water Crisis Threatens American Cities and Towns,” Scientific American.
Usha Lee McFarliing (‘93): “On the Texas-Mexico border, a bold plan to diversify Alzheimer’s research takes shape,” STAT.
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