LAURA POPPICK

I am a freelance science writer with roots in rocks, ice, oceans, and environmental change. My work has appeared in Smithsonian, ScienceNOW, Wired, and other publications. I have a graduate degree in Science Communication from UC Santa Cruz and live in Portland, Maine.


• Recent Stories • 

When Humans Begin Colonizing Other Planets, Who Should Be in Charge? | SMITHSONIAN, FEBRUARY 2017| The biggest threat humans pose to other worlds is what we don’t know—or what we think we know, but don’t.

When Humans Begin Colonizing Other Planets, Who Should Be in Charge? | SMITHSONIAN, FEBRUARY 2017| The biggest threat humans pose to other worlds is what we don’t know—or what we think we know, but don’t.

The Story of the Astrolabe, The Original Smartphone | SMITHSONIAN, JANUARY 2017| Prosperous times likely paved the way for this multifunctional device, conceptual ancestor to the iPhone 7.

The Story of the Astrolabe, The Original Smartphone | SMITHSONIAN, JANUARY 2017| Prosperous times likely paved the way for this multifunctional device, conceptual ancestor to the iPhone 7.

Footprints Found at Ancient Hot Springs Could Represent Earliest Settlement of Tibetan Plateau |SMITHSONIAN, JANUARY 2017| New age measurements of the footprints help pinpoint when humans first settled the highest region on Earth.

Footprints Found at Ancient Hot Springs Could Represent Earliest Settlement of Tibetan Plateau |SMITHSONIAN, JANUARY 2017| New age measurements of the footprints help pinpoint when humans first settled the highest region on Earth.

Sure, Earth Could Get Hit By a Deadly Asteroid - But There's an Upside |SMITHSONIAN, DECEMBER 2016| Preparing for devastating asteroid impacts offers unusual opportunities for global collaboration.

Sure, Earth Could Get Hit By a Deadly Asteroid - But There's an Upside |SMITHSONIAN, DECEMBER 2016| Preparing for devastating asteroid impacts offers unusual opportunities for global collaboration.

Decades-Old Chemicals May Be Threatening Polar Bear Fertility |SMITHSONIAN, DECEMBER 2016| A new study sheds light on how today's pollutants could become tomorrow's threats to wildlife and humans.  

Decades-Old Chemicals May Be Threatening Polar Bear Fertility |SMITHSONIAN, DECEMBER 2016| A new study sheds light on how today's pollutants could become tomorrow's threats to wildlife and humans.
 

What Tickling Giggly Rats Can Tell Us About the Brain |SMITHSONIAN, NOVEMBER 2016| New research offers insight into where exactly in the brain ticklish laughter comes from.

What Tickling Giggly Rats Can Tell Us About the Brain |SMITHSONIAN, NOVEMBER 2016| New research offers insight into where exactly in the brain ticklish laughter comes from.

The Solar Storm the Nearly Set the Cold War Ablaze |SMITHSONIAN, AUGUST 2016| How radio interference from a 1967 solar storm spooked the U.S. military—and launched space weather forecasting.

The Solar Storm the Nearly Set the Cold War Ablaze |SMITHSONIAN, AUGUST 2016| How radio interference from a 1967 solar storm spooked the U.S. military—and launched space weather forecasting.

The Tiny World of Glacier Microbes Has an Outsized Impact on Global Climate |SMITHSONIAN, JULY 2016| Microbes living on glaciers collectively cover an area the size of New Hampshire—and they could have a big influence on global climate.

The Tiny World of Glacier Microbes Has an Outsized Impact on Global Climate |SMITHSONIAN, JULY 2016| Microbes living on glaciers collectively cover an area the size of New Hampshire—and they could have a big influence on global climate.

So Why Does a Zebra Really Have Stripes? |THE WASHINGTON POST via LIVE SCIENCE, JANUARY 2015| The iconic stripes of zebras may play a role in this animal's ability to regulate body temperature and avoid fly bites.

So Why Does a Zebra Really Have Stripes? |THE WASHINGTON POST via LIVE SCIENCE, JANUARY 2015| The iconic stripes of zebras may play a role in this animal's ability to regulate body temperature and avoid fly bites.

Meet the Couple Who Could Be the First Humans to Travel to Mars |WIRED SCIENCE, JULY 2014| Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum have been planning a trip to Mars for 20 years now. They have finally accrued most of the materials they would need to survive the trip -- but not the flight vehicle.

Meet the Couple Who Could Be the First Humans to Travel to Mars |WIRED SCIENCE, JULY 2014| Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum have been planning a trip to Mars for 20 years now. They have finally accrued most of the materials they would need to survive the trip -- but not the flight vehicle.


• From the Archives 

The Women Who Removed Birds From People's Hats |LADYBITS on POPULAR SCIENCE BLOGS, May 2014| • The modern conservation movement has its roots in a crusade of women infuriated by the Victorian fad of pinning birds to hats. 

The Women Who Removed Birds From People's Hats |LADYBITS on POPULAR SCIENCE BLOGS, May 2014| • The modern conservation movement has its roots in a crusade of women infuriated by the Victorian fad of pinning birds to hats. 

Shutdown Could Flush Years of Antarctic Research Down the Drain |LIVE SCIENCE, October 2013| • A decade of planning and $10 million of funding could (and did) go to waste due to the government shutdown.  

Shutdown Could Flush Years of Antarctic Research Down the Drain |LIVE SCIENCE, October 2013| • A decade of planning and $10 million of funding could (and did) go to waste due to the government shutdown.  

One Hobbyist's Stunning Collection of Beetles from Around the World |WIRED, April 2013| • A retired meat researcher from Germany's Federal Center for Meat Research in Bavaria has picked up a hobby that consumes most of his time: beetle collecting. Over the past 30 years, he has amassed more than 30,000 specimens. He is also a talented photographer. Here are some of his most stunning images.

One Hobbyist's Stunning Collection of Beetles from Around the World |WIRED, April 2013| • A retired meat researcher from Germany's Federal Center for Meat Research in Bavaria has picked up a hobby that consumes most of his time: beetle collecting. Over the past 30 years, he has amassed more than 30,000 specimens. He is also a talented photographer. Here are some of his most stunning images.

Tree rings for lobsters |SCIENCENOW, December 2012| • Crustaceans hide their ages well, since they shed their shell every year when they molt. But a Canadian marine biologist has now discovered growth rings in lobsters, shrimp, and crabs, as reliable as trees rings and clam shells. 

Tree rings for lobsters |SCIENCENOW, December 2012| • Crustaceans hide their ages well, since they shed their shell every year when they molt. But a Canadian marine biologist has now discovered growth rings in lobsters, shrimp, and crabs, as reliable as trees rings and clam shells. 


 • Fieldwork • 

Somehow, I continue finding work in amazing places.

Hover on images to view captions.