Heather Goldstone

Science Editor and Host of Living Lab

Heather Goldstone is science editor at WCAI and host of Living Lab on The Point, a weekly show exploring how science gets done and makes its way into our daily lives. Goldstone holds a Ph.D. in ocean science from M.I.T. and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and spent a decade as researcher before leaving the lab to pursue journalism. She has reported extensively on Woods Hole’s unique scientific community and key environmental issues on Cape Cod. Her stories have appeared in outlets ranging from Cape Cod Times and Commercial Fishery News to NPR and PBS News Hour. Most recently, Goldstone hosted Climatide.org, an NPR-sponsored blog exploring present-day impacts of climate change on coastal life.

Ways to Connect

Lars Plougmann / Flickr

Welcome to the first of what we hope will become a regular feature here on Living Lab. We’re calling it From the Director’s Chair, and it’s a chance to check in with the heads of local research institutions about the news and issues that are on their minds.

On the docket this time:

Courtesy of Emily Monosson

Later this month on Living Lab, we’ll be talking about Motherhood: The Elephant in the Laboratory. Do you have a story to share?

Usually, there's an audio player at the top of these posts. This one is different. That's a recorder up there. Here's why (and what you should do with it).

Female scientists are a species subject to serious attrition. Women make up more than half of all undergraduate science majors. Approximately 40% of doctoral degree recipients in science and engineering fields are women. At each successive career benchmark, the proportion of women drops. Less than 30% of full-time, tenured or tenure-track scientists are female.

Why? One major factor is motherhood.

The name of this New Bedford fishing boat expresses what many fishermen love about their jobs, and what many feel they've lost.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

Today marks the opening of the 2013 groundfish season. It's a year that could go down in history as the end of New England's oldest fishery - cod.

The groundfish industry is no stranger to cutbacks and hard times. The fleet has been shrinking for over a decade. But cod fishermen are facing drastic reductions in catch limits this season - a 77% reduction in Gulf of Maine quotas, and greater than 50% reduction in Georges Bank allotments. And since cod is usually caught in conjunction with other groundfish, such as haddock or pollock, the restrictions on cod catches could curtail the entire groundfish season.

Scientists collect fish and plankton to assess the impacts of the Fukushima nuclear crisis on ocean ecosystems.
Ken Kostel / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The Gulf oil spill and Fukushima nuclear crisis have faded from the headlines, but research into the environmental impacts of these disasters is still in its early stages and could continue for decades.

In the past three years we’ve seen two of the worst environmental disasters in history.

Overfishing - of cod, and many other species - began well before modern technology.
Peabody Essex Museum

As long as there have been fishermen, there has been overfishing. Breaking that cycle is the central challenge facing fishermen, fishery scientists and regulators, and anyone who likes to eat fish or have fishermen as neighbors.

Coastal flooding and erosion are expected to become more frequent and severe as the climate warms.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

Coastal counties in the United States are home to nearly half the nation's total population, and contributed more than 8 trillion dollars to the nation's economy in 2010. As the weather events of the past six months have made evident, coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to the forces of nature.

Winning times for the Boston Marathon are slower when it's hotter.
Chase Elliott Clark / Flickr

New research points to some of the subtle ways climate change can affect daily (or not-so-daily, as the case may be) life.

A right whale skim feeding at the surface.
Courtesy of Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

Add this to the list of what makes Cape Cod special: Cape Cod Bay may well be the place where the fate of endangered North Atlantic right whales is decided.

There are only about 470 North Atlantic right whales in existence. They were hunted to the brink of extinction, and their future remains precarious. They face a barage of threats - ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, increasing noise levels in the ocean, and climate change.

Sophie-Marie Van Parijs of the Northeast Fishery Science Center listens in on underwater sounds.
Courtesy of NOAA

Here's your science factoid of the day: male Atlantic cod grunt during spawning season. It may sound like useless trivia, but that behavior could help fishery managers better protect cod stocks.

Underwater microphones - hydrophones - installed along the shipping channels leading into Boston already listen for right whales and automatically alert nearby vessels in real time. In fact, you can even get that information on your iPhone.

Caribou crossing Top of the World Highway in Alaska.
Arthur Chapman / Flickr

Being charged by a grizzly bear. Standing in the midst of a herd of caribou. Listening to your breath freeze as it leaves your mouth. Learning firsthand that kerosene freezes at -53 degrees Fahrenheit. You can't make this stuff up.

Ever wanted to hear what it sounds like on radio when somebody get stuck in the mud? Here's your chance. And never say we won't do what it takes to bring you great science stories.

A satellite image shows a large plume of aerosol moving eastward over the North Atlantic Ocean.
Courtesy of NASA EOS Project Science Office

Humans have been watching clouds since the dawn of time. Still, clouds remain one of the most poorly understood aspects of climate and, thus, climate change. Some of the most vehement scientific debates about climate change center around the role of clouds. As a result, they're one of the largest sources of discrepancies between climate models.

A year-long research project based at Cape Cod National Seashore aims to change that.

President Obama talked with Samantha Garvey, 18, of Bay Shore, N.Y., about her environmental sciences project at the second White House science fair.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Science fair winners may not enjoy the celebrity and wealth of Super Bowl champions, as President Obama has quipped they should, but science fairs can yield lucrative scholarships and prizes, not to mention invaluable learning experiences for those who participate.

Historical Print by Jonathan Couch

At least 7000 Americans suffer spinal cord injuries each year.  Often the result is permanent paralysis. On Living Lab, Heather Goldstone sits down with Jennifer Morgan, Marine Biological Laboratory Assistant Scientist, to discuss understanding nerve cell communication and repair in sea lampreys, and what that means for people suffering from spinal cord injury.

This program is a rebroadcast.  It originally aired on July 9, 2012,