Jordana Cepelewicz

Staff Writer

For the first time, researchers see how proteins grab loops of DNA and bundle them for cell division. The discovery also hints at how the genome folds to regulate gene expression.
genomics

How Cells Pack Tangled DNA Into Neat Chromosomes

For the first time, researchers see how proteins grab loops of DNA and bundle them for cell division. The discovery also hints at how the genome folds to regulate gene expression.

Stimulating part of the cortex as needed during learning tasks improves later recall. The finding reveals more about the brain’s memory network and points toward possible therapies.
Abstractions blog

With Strategic Zaps to the Brain, Scientists Boost Memory

Stimulating part of the cortex as needed during learning tasks improves later recall. The finding reveals more about the brain’s memory network and points toward possible therapies.

The neuroscientist Erich Jarvis found that songbirds’ vocal skills and humans’ spoken language are both rooted in neural pathways for controlling learned movements.
Q&A

In Birds’ Songs, Brains and Genes, He Finds Clues to Speech

The neuroscientist Erich Jarvis found that songbirds’ vocal skills and humans’ spoken language are both rooted in neural pathways for controlling learned movements.

Mechanical tension between tethered cells cues developing tissues to fold. Researchers can now program synthetic tissue to make coils, cubes and rippling plates.
Abstractions blog

Tissue Engineers Hack Life’s Code for 3-D Folded Shapes

Mechanical tension between tethered cells cues developing tissues to fold. Researchers can now program synthetic tissue to make coils, cubes and rippling plates.

The dizzying network of interactions within microbe communities can defy analysis. But a new approach simplifies the math and makes progress possible.
microbiology

Simpler Math Tames the Complexity of Microbe Networks

The dizzying network of interactions within microbe communities can defy analysis. But a new approach simplifies the math and makes progress possible.

Compact genomes and tiny cells gave flowering plants an edge over competing flora. This discovery hints at a broader evolutionary principle.
Abstractions blog

With ‘Downsized’ DNA, Flowering Plants Took Over the World

Compact genomes and tiny cells gave flowering plants an edge over competing flora. This discovery hints at a broader evolutionary principle.

Evolution settled on a genetic code that uses four letters to name 20 amino acids. Synthetic biologists adding new bases to DNA will be free to improve on nature — if they can.
synthetic biology

Is a Bigger Genetic Code Better? Get Ready to Find Out

Evolution settled on a genetic code that uses four letters to name 20 amino acids. Synthetic biologists adding new bases to DNA will be free to improve on nature — if they can.

For decades, an origin-of-life story starring RNA has prevailed. New research may be shaking that theory’s hold on our understanding of life’s beginnings.
origins of life

The End of the RNA World Is Near, Biochemists Argue

For decades, an origin-of-life story starring RNA has prevailed. New research may be shaking that theory’s hold on our understanding of life’s beginnings.

The rapid, unorthodox emergence of a new finch in the Galápagos hints that speciation isn’t rare. New hybrid species may quietly appear and disappear without anyone noticing.
Abstractions blog

New Bird Species Arises From Hybrids, as Scientists Watch

The rapid, unorthodox emergence of a new finch in the Galápagos hints that speciation isn’t rare. New hybrid species may quietly appear and disappear without anyone noticing.

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.