Nell Greenfieldboyce

Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.

With reporting focused on general science, NASA, and the intersection between technology and society, Greenfieldboyce has been on the science desk's technology beat since she joined NPR in 2005.

In that time Greenfieldboyce has reported on topics including the narwhals in Greenland, the ending of the space shuttle program, and the reasons why independent truckers don't want electronic tracking in their cabs.

Much of Greenfieldboyce's reporting reflects an interest in discovering how applied science and technology connects with people and culture. She has worked on stories spanning issues such as pet cloning, gene therapy, ballistics, and federal regulation of new technology.

Prior to NPR, Greenfieldboyce spent a decade working in print, mostly magazines including U.S. News & World Report and New Scientist.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins, earning her Bachelor's of Arts degree in social sciences and a Master's of Arts degree in science writing, Greenfieldboyce taught science writing for four years at the university. She was honored for her talents with the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists.

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6:00am

Sat November 5, 2011
Space

Fake Mission Accomplished For Mars500

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, host: Six men in Moscow are readjusting to life on Earth today after enduring a long simulated mission to Mars. They spent 520 days locked inside a fake spaceship. The hatch was opened yesterday.

NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports that this pretend trip involved real psychological challenges that may still persist.

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4:01pm

Fri October 14, 2011
Environment

Polar Bear Researcher To Be Re-Interviewed By Feds

A researcher who wrote a famous report about dead polar bears is being re-interviewed by federal investigators, who are continuing to probe allegations of misconduct. Above, a polar bear walks on the frozen tundra on the edge of Hudson Bay.

Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Federal officials continue to probe allegations of misconduct related to a famous report on dead polar bears that raised concerns about climate change. Later this month, officials plan to re-interview one of the two government scientists who wrote that report.

The new development suggests that scientific integrity remains a focus of the investigation, which recently detoured into allegations that the other researcher under scrutiny broke rules related to federal funding of research. Both scientists work for agencies of the Department of the Interior (DOI).

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8:03am

Thu October 13, 2011
Animals

Naked Mole Rat's Genetic Code Laid Bare

Originally published on Fri October 14, 2011 5:15 am

Naked mole rats are becoming more popular in research laboratories, The rodents have surprised scientists with their ability to live up to 30 years and their potential to offer insights into human health.

Eric Gay AP

Lists of the world's ugliest animals sometimes include the naked mole rat. But scientists who have just analyzed its entire genetic code say this bizarre little creature has an inner beauty — unique traits that could aid research on cancer and aging.

Naked mole rats are neither moles nor rats, although they are naked. They have tiny eyes and piggy noses and have been described as looking like sausages with teeth.

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12:43pm

Wed October 12, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Decoded DNA Reveals Details Of Black Death Germ

Victims of the plague are consigned to a communal burial during the Plague of London in 1665.

Universal Images Group Getty Images

Scientists have used DNA lurking inside the teeth of medieval Black Death victims to figure out the entire genetic code of the deadly bacterium that swept across Europe more than 600 years ago, killing an estimated half of the population.

The researchers didn't find any genetic feature that could explain why the plague was so virulent, according to a report just published in the journal Nature.

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2:03am

Fri September 30, 2011
Space

Asteroids Pose Less Risk To Earth Than Thought

Originally published on Fri September 30, 2011 10:05 am

This picture of the Eros asteroid is the first of an asteroid taken from an orbiting spacecraft. The crater at the center is about 4 miles across.
JPL/JHUAPL NASA

Our planet's risk of being hit by a dangerous outer space rock may be smaller than scientists previously thought. That's according to a survey of the sky that NASA is calling the most accurate census yet of near-Earth asteroids.

A NASA space telescope called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, recently went searching for asteroids lurking nearby — and found far fewer than astronomers had expected.

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10:01pm

Tue September 20, 2011
Space

Where Falling Satellite Lands Is Anyone's Guess

This artist's conceptual image shows the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS. After two decades in orbit, the satellite will make an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
NASA

Later this week, a retired NASA satellite the size of a school bus will finally fall back towards Earth after orbiting the planet for two decades. Most of it will burn up in the atmosphere. But about two dozen pieces are expected to hit the ground — somewhere.

And the biggest piece will weigh about 300 pounds.

If that's got you worried, NASA emphasizes that in the history of the space age, there have been no confirmed reports of falling space junk hurting anyone. But that doesn't mean no one has ever been hit.

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10:30am

Wed September 7, 2011
The Two-Way

Though Shuttles Are Retired, NASA Needs More Astronauts, Panel Says

The Mercury 7, NASA's original astronauts, in 1959. More than 50 years later, the agency still needs astronauts — and in fact needs a few more than it has — a panel says.
NASA Getty Images

NASA needs to hire a few more astronauts. That's according to a panel of outside experts enlisted by the agency to review the size of the astronaut corps now that the space shuttles are retired. (The panel's report is posted here.)

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10:01pm

Mon September 5, 2011
Science

A Final Smash For America's Giant Particle Collider

A view inside the Tevatron ring, currently in its final days as a particle superhighway.
Reider Hahn Fermilab

A physicist named Dmitri Denisov walks up wooden steps to the top of something that looks sort of like an abandoned railroad bed.

"Wow, look, it's beautiful," Denisov says, gazing out at a pond. "I didn't even know about these flowers."

The tall mound of dirt he's standing on stretches off into the distance, forming a huge circle nearly four miles around — and the inside of this ring is filled with acres of restored prairie.

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2:14pm

Thu September 1, 2011
Science

Polar Bear Scientist Was Accused By Federal Worker

Originally published on Thu September 1, 2011 5:05 pm

The controversial "polarbeargate" investigation into Arctic researcher Charles Monnett originated when allegations of scientific misconduct were made by a "seasoned, career Department of the Interior" employee.

That's according to a new letter sent to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) from the Department of the Interior's Office of Inspector General.

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3:16pm

Thu August 25, 2011
Environment

'Polarbeargate' Scientist To Head Back To Work

Two polar bears spar on the shoreline of the Hudson Bay in November 2007.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

The polar bear scientist who has spent more than a month suspended from his government job has now been told that he should report back to work on Friday — although NPR has learned that his job is changing and he will no longer manage federal contracts.

"Chuck is planning to go to work. He just doesn't know what the work is going to be," says attorney Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which is providing legal representation for wildlife biologist Charles Monnett.

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10:01pm

Mon August 22, 2011
Science

'Shrimp On A Treadmill': The Politics Of 'Silly' Studies

"Shrimp on a treadmill" has become a euphemism for questionable government spending on scientific research. The actual research study was focused on how water quality affects a shrimp's performance.
Lou Burnett College of Charleston

Biologist Lou Burnett was recently in his car when his cell phone rang. It was a CNN reporter, asking about the fact that his research had been featured in a new report about wasteful government spending.

That was news to Burnett, who works at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. "I was pretty irritated," he recalls.

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3:58pm

Mon August 22, 2011
Space

Giant Camera Will Hunt For Signs Of Dark Energy

Originally published on Mon August 22, 2011 4:54 pm

A look inside the Dark Energy Camera shows the 74 blue-tinged sensors that detect light. The camera will survey distant, faint galaxies to learn more about dark energy.
Reidar Hahn Fermilab

A giant and powerful digital camera is about to be shipped from a lab near Chicago to a telescope in Chile to study a mysterious part of the universe called dark energy.

Dark energy makes up most of our universe, but scientists currently know almost nothing about it except that it seems to be making the expansion of our universe speed up.

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12:10pm

Wed August 17, 2011
Science

Fresh Allegations Leveled Against Polar Bear Scientist

The polar bear researcher who was suspended from his government job last month has received a new letter from investigators that lays out actions he took that are described as being "highly inappropriate" under the rules that apply to managing federal contracts.

According to the letter, wildlife biologist Charles Monnett told investigators that he assisted a scientist in preparing that scientist's proposal for a government contract. Monnett then served as chair of a committee that reviewed that proposal.

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10:01pm

Tue August 9, 2011
Science

Polar Bear Scientist Faces New Questions

A Polar Bear walks on the frozen tundra on the edge of Hudson Bay waiting for the Hudson Bay to freeze-over 14 November 2007 outside Churchill, Mantioba, Canada. Polar Bears return every year to Churchill, the Polar Bear capital of the world, where they remain hunting for seals on the icepack until the Spring thaw.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

A wildlife biologist is continuing to face questions about an influential paper he wrote on apparently drowned polar bears, with government investigators reportedly asking whether he improperly steered a research contract to another scientist as a reward for reviewing that paper.

"They seem to be suggesting that there is some sort of conspiracy that involves global warming and back scratching that appears to be frankly just nuts," says Jeff Ruch, a lawyer with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

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11:32am

Wed August 3, 2011
Space

Early Earth May Have Been Orbited By Two Moons

This artist's illustration shows a collision between the moon and a companion moon. Scientists say the collision could be responsible for the moon's asymmetric shape.
Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug Nature

The early Earth had two moons instead of just one — our familiar moon, as well as a smaller companion moon that also rose and set in the sky for tens of millions of years.

That's according to a new theory that says this smaller moon eventually went careening into our moon and is still there, in the form of mountains on its far side.

Scientists have long puzzled over those mountains, and the fact that the two sides of our moon are very different. The near side has flat lowlands, while the far side is high and mountainous.

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