Jordana Cepelewicz

Staff Writer

Photo of 12 petri dishes holding brightly colored fungi.
Abstractions blog

‘Zombie’ Microbes Redefine Life’s Energy Limits

August 12, 2020

A new model shows that the denizens of a vast, ancient biome beneath the seafloor use barely enough energy to stay alive — and broadens understanding of what life can look like.

Side-by-side images of a rabbit, bees in a hive, and a tornado.
information theory

What Is an Individual? Biology Seeks Clues in Information Theory.

July 16, 2020

To recognize strange extraterrestrial life and solve biological mysteries on this planet, scientists are searching for an objective definition for life’s basic units.

Simple line drawing of a beating human heart.
Abstractions blog

How Your Heart Influences What You Perceive and Fear

July 6, 2020

The heartbeat and other bodily processes play a surprising role in shaping perception and cognition.

Stalks and spore bodies of a slime mold rise above a smooth surface.
Abstractions blog

Out-of-Sync ‘Loners’ May Secretly Protect Orderly Swarms

May 21, 2020

Studies of collective behavior usually focus on how crowds of organisms coordinate their actions. But what if the individuals that don’t participate have just as much to tell us?

Close-up of water swirling among rocks at the sea’s edge.
microbiology

Inside Deep Undersea Rocks, Life Thrives Without the Sun

May 13, 2020

Newly discovered worlds of microbes far beneath the ocean floor, inside old basaltic rocks, could point to a greater likelihood of life elsewhere in the universe.

Computer model of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
Abstractions blog

Sugary Camouflage on Coronavirus Offers Vaccine Clues

May 5, 2020

In the fight against viruses and other pathogens, scientists are looking beyond genes and proteins to the complex sugars, or glycans, on cell surfaces.

An illustration that represents the big differences in size and diversity in the microbiomes of six species.
microbiology

Some Animals Have No Microbiome. Here’s What That Tells Us.

April 14, 2020

To stay healthy, humans and some other animals rely on a complex community of bacteria in their guts. But research is starting to show that those partnerships might be more the exception than the rule.

A mother armadillo, lying on her side, nurses four baby armadillos.
developmental biology

Nature Versus Nurture? Add ‘Noise’ to the Debate.

March 23, 2020

We give our genes and our environment all the credit for making us who we are. But random noise during development might be just as important.

Two arrows that are intertwined for most of their length but then point in different directions.
Abstractions blog

In Brain Waves, Scientists See Neurons Juggle Possible Futures

February 24, 2020

Faced with a decision, the brain weighs its options by bundling them into rapidly alternating cycles of brain waves.

About the author

Jordana Cepelewicz is a staff writer at Quanta Magazine who covers biology. Her writing about mathematics, neuroscience and other subjects has also appeared in Nautilus and Scientific American. Before entering the world of science reporting, Jordana did editorial work at Harper’s MagazinePolitico and Tea Leaf Nation. She graduated from Yale University in 2015 with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and comparative literature.