Jordana Cepelewicz

Staff Writer

A row of skulls ending with homo sapiens, foreground, found at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Human Origins.
Abstractions blog

Artificial Intelligence Finds Ancient ‘Ghosts’ in Modern DNA

February 7, 2019

With the help of deep learning techniques, paleoanthropologists find evidence of long-lost branches on the human family tree.

Photo of the female penis structure of the cave insect Neotrogla aurora.
Abstractions blog

Why Evolution Reversed These Insects’ Sex Organs

January 30, 2019

Among these cave insects, the females evolved to have penises — twice. The reasons challenge common assumptions about sex.

Abstractions blog

Gene Drives Work in Mice (if They’re Female)

January 23, 2019

Biologists have demonstrated for the first time that a controversial genetic engineering technology works, with caveats, in mammals.

Art for "The Brain Maps Out Ideas and Memories Like Spaces"
neuroscience

The Brain Maps Out Ideas and Memories Like Spaces

January 14, 2019

Emerging evidence suggests that the brain encodes abstract knowledge in the same way that it represents positions in space, which hints at a more universal theory of cognition.

Abstractions blog

What Defines a Stem Cell? Scientists Rethink the Answer

December 4, 2018

As it becomes clear that the body’s cells have more diverse regenerative capabilities than expected, experts have had to reconsider their approach to stem cell research.

Art for "Biology and Computer Science Explore Algorithmic Evolution"
mathematical biology

Mathematical Simplicity May Drive Evolution’s Speed

November 29, 2018

Some researchers are using a complexity framework thought to be purely theoretical to understand evolutionary dynamics in biological and computational systems.

Art for "In the Nucleus, Genes’ Activity Might Depend on Their Position"
cell biology

In the Nucleus, Genes’ Activity Might Depend on Their Location

November 6, 2018

Using a new CRISPR-based technique, researchers are examining how the position of DNA within the nucleus affects gene expression and cell function.

Art for "Scientists Learn the Ropes on Tying Molecular Knots"
chemistry

Scientists Learn the Ropes on Tying Molecular Knots

October 29, 2018

As chemists tie the most complicated molecular knot yet, biophysicists create a “periodic table” that describes what kinds of knots are possible.

Photo of Renee Reijo Pera
Q&A

In the Ticking of the Embryonic Clock, She Finds Answers

October 15, 2018

Renee Reijo Pera has spent decades uncovering how the timing of embryonic development contributes to health and disease.