portfolio

 

Welcome! I’m Cheryl Pellerin, a science writer who’s spent 30-ish years writing for print, broadcast and the web, and I have a bachelor of science degree in science journalism from the University of Maryland-College Park, 1987. Along with my books, Trips: How Hallucinogens Work in Your Brain and How Cannabis Works, and my blog, here are some of my favorite writing projects over the years. They include my work for the Defense Department, the State Department, and before that, over 12 years or so of freelancing for the Discovery Channel, the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership, The Learning Channel, the National Institutes of Health, and lots of others, Thanks for taking a look.

Defense Dept: Walter Reed Scientists Test Zika Vaccine Candidate (2016)

As mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus spread illness to people across the Americas and beyond, scientists at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are moving quickly, conducting preclinical research on a Zika vaccine candidate with collaborators at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and planning to start human testing before the year ends.

Caption: Transmission electron microscope image of negative-stained, Fortaleza-strain Zika virus, in red, isolated from a microcephaly case in Brazil. National Institutes of Health photo.

DoD Medical Countermeasures Find Use in Ebola Outbreak (2014)

The Defense Department is better prepared to help with the West Africa Ebola outbreak because it has accelerated aspects of its medical countermeasures program established to protect troops from biological warfare agents, the assistant secretary of defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs said.

Caption: Microscopic view of Ebola virus. Shutterstock by Nixx Photography.

DoD Lab Identified First Cases of Middle East Coronavirus (2014)

A Defense Department-funded lab in Egypt detected the earliest-known cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus, a new coronavirus strain that is infecting people on the Arabian Peninsula, an expert from DoD’s global disease surveillance system said.

Caption: Colorized transmission electron micrograph of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases photo.

Navy Researcher: Historic Study May Lead to Malaria Vaccine (2013)

A small clinical trial of a malaria vaccine candidate recently showed 100-percent protection against the disease. This could mean, with enough funding, that a first-generation vaccine may be ready in 4 to 5 years for deployed warfighters and people in endemic areas, a Navy researcher said.

Caption: Colorized electron micrograph showing malaria parasite (right, blue) attaching to a human red blood cell. The inset shows a detail of the attachment point at higher magnification. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases photo.

Defense Dept: Medical Intelligence Center Monitors Health Threats (2012)

From a windowless building behind barriers and fences here, scientists, physicians and other experts monitor a range of intelligence and open-source channels for threats to the health of U.S. forces and the homeland. But the Defense Intelligence Agency’s National Center for Medical Intelligence, known as NCMI, is an intelligence organization, not a public health organization.

Caption: Colorized transmission electron micrograph showing H1N1 influenza virus particles. Surface proteins on the virus particles are shown in black. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases photo.

DARPA: Autonomous Bug-Hunting Bots Will Help Improve Cybersecurity (2016)

This week, seven teams whose cyber reasoning bots played in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Cyber Grand Challenge proved that machines by themselves could find and fix software safety problems in a simplified version of the code used everywhere, every day.

Caption: The Integrated Cyber and Electronic Warfare, or ICE, program at the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, looks to leverage cyber and electronic warfare capabilities like those on display at DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge as an integrated system to increase a commander’s situational awareness. DoD photo.

DARPA’s Plan X Gives Military Operators a Place to Wage Cyber Warfare (2016)

Since 2013, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Plan X cyber warfare program engineers have done the foundational work they knew it would take to create for the first time a common operating picture for warriors in cyberspace.

Caption: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Plan X program is working to help military cyber operators visualize the cyber battlespace and perform missions there based on an established cyber framework and a common operating picture. Plan X is a foundational cyberwarfare program whose engineers are developing platforms the Defense Department will use to plan for, conduct and assess cyberwarfare in a manner similar to that of kinetic warfare. DARPA photo.

Robots from South Korea, U.S. Win DARPA Finals (2015)

A robot from South Korea took first prize and two American robots took second and third prizes here yesterday in the two-day robotic challenge finals held by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Caption: A group photo of Team Tartan Rescue and its robot CHIMP, which stands for CMU highly intelligent mobile platform. Team Tartan Rescue won third prize at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals held June 5-6, 2015, in Pomona, Calif. DARPA photo.

DARPA Tech Forum Previews National Security Future (2015)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s “Wait, What?” Future Technology Forum wrapped up Friday with a remembrance of those who died on 9/11 and presentations covering the bleeding edges of everything from extraterrestrial life and cold molecules to lighting up the living brain.

Caption: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency scientists brief Defense Secretary Ash Carter [not pictured] on the robotic limb exhibit at the “Wait, What?” future technology forum at the America’s Convention Center Complex in St. Louis, Sept. 9, 2015. DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz.

State Dept: WHO Declares Global Pandemic for H1N1 Flu (2009)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the pandemic alert to the highest level, phase 6, after confirming with virus experts and member countries that the novel H1N1 virus, which causes in most people a mild seasonal-flu-like illness, is spreading from person to person in a sustained way in 74 countries on three continents (PDF).

Caption: Health care worker helps infected person in quarantine zone. Shutterstock by oneinchpunch.

State Dept: Swine Flu Outbreaks Mobilize International Public Health Effort (2009)

Outbreaks of a new strain of influenza virus that began in north-central Mexico March 22 and have spread to the United States, Canada and Spain so far have prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the event a public health emergency of international concern (PDF).

Caption: Pen with pigs (swine). Shutterstock by Dusan Petkovic.

State Dept: Changing Climate Could Alter Biology of Infectious Diseases (2008)

For 10,000 years the people, plants, animals and microbes of planet Earth have experienced an unusually long period of climate stability. This is ending as rising levels of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, disrupt sensitive interrelationships forged among these life forms in the dependable environments of the past (PDF).

Caption: Cracked earth with grass. Shutterstock by Songsak P.

State Dept: International Partners Work to Prevent Next Pandemic (2008)

Most emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses — animal diseases that can be transmitted to people — and most zoonoses arise from wildlife, so anywhere in the world that wild animals and people interact, a new disease can enter the human population (PDF).

Caption: SARS logo vector icon design illustration. Shutterstock by ILoveCoffeeDesign.

State Dept: Global Disease Detection Program Part of Worldwide Network (2007)

When AIDS arose in animals in western Africa, jumped to people, evolved over decades and then emerged in 1981 as clusters of unusual disease in New York and San Francisco, there was no systematic way to detect potentially global diseases. Today, a handful of international networks crisscross the globe (PDF).

Caption: Stanford University human biology major image. Scanning electron micrograph of HIV particles infecting a human H9 T cell, colorized in blue, turquoise and yellow. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases photo.

State Dept: Navy Scientists Share Research Benefits Worldwide (2007)

It takes time and money to study and fight emerging infectious diseases like avian influenza and less well-known pathogens like rotavirus or enterotoxigenic E. coli – money for laboratory equipment and researchers, and time to teach scientists and lab technicians how to diagnose and treat the illnesses (PDF).

Caption: Chicken behind wire fence. Shutterstock by Campre.

State Dept: Bird Flu Needs Modern Vaccine Production Methods (2005)

The threat of a global pandemic from the H5N1 bird flu virus is prompting scientists to move away from the 50-year-old influenza vaccine production methods in use today and turn to techniques perfected in the current age of biotechnology (PDF).

Caption: Virologist injects virus into egg yolks to grow virus for use in vaccines. Shutterstock by Sean Locke Photography.

Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership, Inside Story (2011)

Science writer/contributor: Inside Story, a 2012 feature-length film from the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership that combined film stars, football and science to educate millions across sub-Saharan Africa about HIV-AIDS.

Caption: Inside Story cover. Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership image.

 

Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership Documentaries (2003-2004)

Science writer: Pregnancy (2003); Human Biology (2003), with segments on bones and muscles, the senses, and the brain; Physics: Matter and Energy (2004); and Physics: Matter in Motion (2004).

Caption: Stanford University human biology major image.

 

Gale/Thomson, Science in Dispute, Vols. 1 (2000) and 3 (2002)

Essays on a Human Proteome Project, late Precambrian life forms (Ediacaran biota), and earthquake hazards in the New Madrid, Missouri, Seismic Zone.

Caption: Proterozoic Era, from 2,500 to 541 million years ago, encompassing the fauna of the Ediacaran period, from 635 to 542 million years ago. Geological Museum Valdemar Lefevre image.

MIT Press, The ABCs of Battling Bioterrorism (2001)

Anthrax, plague, smallpox, Lassa, Ebola. Some of the planet’s most ancient scourges are back in the lab, together with a few recently discovered threats, as investigators work to develop vaccines against potential biological weapons.

Caption: Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases photo.

National Institutes of Health, The Role of Sleep in Health & Cognition (2001)

The Role of Sleep in Health & Cognition, (2001), in Vital Connections: Science of Mind-Body Interactions: A report on the interdisciplinary conference, National Institutes of Health.

Caption: The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau, 1897.

 

Discovery Channel, Mummy from the Stone Age (2000)

Writer: Iceman: Mummy from the Stone Age documentary. A 5,000-year-old mummy thaws out of a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991, dressed and equipped for a typical day (his last) in 3200 BC.

Caption: A scientist examines a 5,000-year-old mummy that thawed out of a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991. From the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/ EURAC/ Samadelli/ Staschitz.

Discovery Channel-BBC, The Sleep Files (1998)

Writer: The Sleep Files (1998) 3-part Discovery Channel-BBC coproduction on the science of sleep.

Caption: National Sleep Foundation photo.

 

Discovery Channel, Earth Story (1998)

Writer: Earth Story (1998), a 6-part series on the formation of the solar system and the evolution of earth over 3.5 billion years; BBC co-production.

Caption: A view of Earth from the moon. NASA photo.

 

Discovery Channel Productions, Invisible Places (1997)

Writer-researcher: Invisible Places, an original miniseries on underground sites and structures, Parts 1 and 3, Discovery Channel Productions.

The series explored hidden places under cities. Historically the underground structures were used as hiding places, escape routes and catacombs. Segment 1 “Underworld” exposes crypts, dungeons, catacombs and subterranean tunnels around the world. Segment 3 “World of War” travels underground to places where people have fled for protection from nature and human enemies, ranging from hollowed-out mountains to the underground tunnels built to hide from Nazi attacks during World War II.

Caption: Underground catacombs of Paris, France. Visit-Paris.org photo.

National Geographic’s online 3-D solar system. (1996)

Researcher/science & images: National Geographic’s online 3-D solar system.

Caption: In this view, Saturn’s icy moon Rhea passes in front of Titan as seen by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. NASA photo.

 

The Learning Channel, Understanding series (1995-1996)

Understanding Viruses (writer-associate producer), Understanding Volcanoes (writer-science editor), Understanding Magnetism (researcher-science editor), Understanding Sex (researcher-science editor). Cronkite Ward & Co. producers.

Caption: U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program image.

 

My Favorite Science Paper: Apple and Oranges, A Comparison

Apples and Oranges–A Comparison by Scott A. Sandford, NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California

Caption: An apple and an orange. Author Michael Johnson, from Wikimedia Commons.