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

Courtesy of Duygu Özpolat

“If you cut them into small pieces, each of those pieces will become a whole new worm, instead of dying. And, in addition to that, they also can make clones of themselves. So, imagine one day you see a little bump on your feet, and then that gradually grows into a whole new you and buds off. This is the kind of things they do.” - Duygu Özpolat

This week on Living Lab Radio:

Image via www.vpnsrus.com / CC BY 2.0

The Internet and artificial intelligence are changing the way we live. That’s not a surprise. We fret about how distracted we've become, or about whether robots will take our jobs. Those are real concerns. But the impact of computing technology could be even bigger and deeper – forcing us to reckon with our place in the world and our ability to understand it.

You can make fish and chips using spiny dogfish, a common catch in our waters.
Matthias Meckel, https://tinyurl.com/y6monys9

Dozens of species of fish and shellfish are caught in New England’s waters. But only a handful show up in most seafood retailers. You can probably list them: cod, haddock, scallops, clams, lobster.

Now, it’s not just anecdotal. A citizen science initiative has found that five species dominate at New England seafood counters and that some of the species that are most common out in the ocean are the rarest in our markets.

Leona Chemnick, Marlys Houck, and Dr. Oliver Ryder in The Frozen Zoo - a collection of cell and tissue samples at San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research.
Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Global

Headlines trumpeted the dire news: a new U.N. report says human beings have put one million species at risk of extinction within decades. They point the finger at five major culprits – habitat destruction, exploitation, invasive species, pollution, and climate change.

Researchers at San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research are fighting back with what they call The Frozen Zoo. It’s a collection of frozen cell and tissue samples that might be used to bolster failing populations of endangered species.

Dongju Zhang, Lanzhou University

Each month, we check in with the editors at Nature News for a roundup of top science headlines. This time, we talk to multimedia editor Benjamin Thompson of the Nature News podcast and video team.

Oliver Ryder, director of genetics at San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research.
Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Global

“There's no time we're going to be able to collect more biodiversity than now, because it's declining. So, I think if we were to have a a conversation with the future, they would tell us: ‘Biodiversity is declining. Just bank as much of it as you can, because we would be glad to have it.’” – Oliver Ryder

This week on Living Lab Radio:

The majority of Americans - across party lines - support more funding for renewable energy research and tax incentives for solar panel purchases.
Vera Kratochvil / CCO 1.0 Public Domain

A new CNN poll finds that climate change is the most prevalent issue on the minds of Democratic voters. Eighty two percent of survey respondents told CNN that they think it is very important that the Democratic for president support taking aggressive action to slow the effects of climate change. Not even universal healthcare garnered a “very important” rating from that many prospective voters.

And, sure enough, some would-be Democratic nominees are making climate change a signature issue. Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren have all outlined plans.

Alva Pratt / unsplash

When it comes to sharks, great whites and the risk to human swimmers have dominated public attention in the northeast recently. But, there are hundreds of species of sharks, and for most of them, in most of the world, humans are a far greater threat to sharks than the other way around. That’s why Anna Oposa is working to establish a shark shelter in the waters around the Phillippines.


It’s estimated there are just over 400 North Atlantic right whales remaining, and that number has been declining in recent years. The two main causes of death are both related to human activities – ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. In particular, the lines that connect lobster and crab traps to buoys at the water’s surface are major culprits in entanglements.

Wildlife habitat gardens provide food and shelter for wildlife in the midst of human neighborhoods.
Photo by David Mizejewski / National Wildlife Federation

Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to the diversity of plants and animals on Earth. Parks and wild lands are essential for conserving ecosystems. But it turns out our back yards and even urban balconies can also play an important role. 

The Green New Deal has become a political lightning rod, but 2018 polling showed 8 out of 10 Americans support the underlying ideas.
Intothewoods7 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

" The current data suggests - and certainly the behavior of current candidates for the Democratic nomination strongly suggests - that this will be the first national election where climate change ends up playing a major role." - Ed Maibach, George Mason University

This week on Living Lab Radio:

The gray wolf is protected by the Endangered Species Act, but some say it is sufficiently recovered to be removed from the list.
Jean Beaufort / CCO Public Domain

There are few environmental debates more heated than whether or not to add - or drop - an animal from the Endangered Species Act. Case in point: the debate over whether or not gray wolves in the American West are sufficiently recovered to deserve removal from the list.

In the Act’s forty five year history, only thirty nine species have been declared fully recovered. Critics of the Endangered Species Act often cite that as evidence that the law is ineffective, and too cumbersome to be worthwhile.

Walter Reed Hospital flu ward during the great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 - 1919, also known as the "Spanish Flu".
Photo by Harris & Ewing via Library of Congress website

The Spanish flu infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide, and killed tens of millions. A century later, we have vaccines, antibiotics, advanced life support, and high-tech monitoring networks. And, yet, disease outbreaks - from Ebola, to Zika, to measles - continue to surprise even experts.

Medical historian Mark Honigsbaum has chronicled the outbreaks and epidemics of the twentieth century in his new book, The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris.

Who needs a worker checking shelves when you have a robot?
David J. Phillip / AP Photo

Retailers like Walmart are embracing robots – here's how workers can tell if they'll be replaced

Preparing for the next pandemic requires more than training and technology. It requires questioning what we do and don't know.
DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

"Scientists - not just scientists, anyone - can fall into the trap of thinking that once we have a certain amount of knowledge, we really understand how things work, we don't need to question it anymore. But the lessons of these epidemics is that as much as we've learned and as much as we know there were always these unknowns out there, or these partial understandings, and we only learned what we're missing when the next epidemic comes along." - Mark Honigsbaum