Jordana Cepelewicz

Staff Writer

A drawing of a mouse, with lines representing sensory data rotating 90 degrees to become lines of memory data.

The Brain ‘Rotates’ Memories to Save Them From New Sensations

April 15, 2021

Some populations of neurons simultaneously process sensations and memories. New work shows how the brain rotates those representations to prevent interference.

Illustration of researchers trying to reconstruct the shape of an epidemic curve from its distorted shadow on the floor.

Chasing the Elusive Numbers That Define Epidemics

March 22, 2021

Most modeling efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic have sought to address urgent practical concerns. But some groups aim to bolster the theoretical underpinnings of that work instead.

Looping video shows a constantly shifting set of curves and a moving keyhole view of the pandemic coronavirus.

The Hard Lessons of Modeling the Coronavirus Pandemic

January 28, 2021

In the fight against COVID-19, disease modelers have struggled against misunderstanding and misuse of their work. They have also come to realize how unready the state of modeling was for this pandemic.

Cells being injected with a microneedle.
Abstractions blog

Nobel Chemistry Prize Awarded for CRISPR ‘Genetic Scissors’

October 7, 2020

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their development of CRISPR/Cas9 genetic editing.

Electron micrograph of the hepatitis C virus.
Abstractions blog

Scientists Win Nobel Prize for Discovering the Hepatitis C Virus

October 5, 2020

Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the cause of a major liver disease.

Looping video of illustrated clocks stretching in different directions.
Abstractions blog

Reasons Revealed for the Brain’s Elastic Sense of Time

September 24, 2020

New research finds that the subjective experience of time is linked to learning, thwarted expectations and neural fatigue.

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.

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.