Featured Articles

Below is a chronology of work I produced as a freelancer, intern and student, with my favorite work featured at the top.

Controversy grows over recipe for rodent problem on Farallon Islands: rat poison

Isolated from the frenzy of San Francisco by 30 miles of ocean, the Farallon Islands appear desolate from a distance — nothing more than a rocky silhouette against the setting sun. But up close, the islands are bursting with life. Petrels, gulls, cormorants, murres and tufted puffins are just a few of the species that make the Farallones the largest seabird colony in the contiguous United States, earning it the moniker “the Galapagos of California.”

Vaccines came slowly for most vulnerable in Santa Cruz County

An investigation I led into the vaccine rollout in Santa Cruz County revealed that some of the area's most vulnerable residents received inoculations over a month after the vaccine became available, even as the county expanded access to seniors in the general population that weren't living in congregate care. The slow pace of the federal pharmacy program may have caused unnecessary deaths in a population that has suffered the brunt of the pandemic nationwide.

The Natural Laboratory Ep3 — How Wildlife Withstand Wildfires

Point Reyes is home to a great variety of animals. Half of North America's birds have been spotted in the park, not to mention its reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals. How do these creatures respond to a fire? In this episode, Jerimiah Oetting speaks to park scientists to learn how certain vulnerable species might be impacted by wildfires. Join us as we hoot for owls and track one of the more elusive and curious species in the park, the Point Reyes mountain beaver.

Of lava lamps and living cells

Maybe it was all the late nights staring through a microscope, pondering the materials of cells. Or perhaps it was the work-induced hallucinations that followed —the soft, squishy building blocks of life, stuck in his vision, superimposed on the cold and rigid bricks of Boston. Whatever caused it, Brangwynne saw cells and their structures a little differently than other scientists, and it would lead him to a major discovery that had been hiding in plain sight. Get to know your inner-blobs. My feature for Princeton's Discovery: Research at Princeton Magazine

Why bat scientists are socially distancing from their subjects

Oct 23, 2020 — Science News: There’s nothing Winifred Frick likes better than crawling through guano-filled caves and coming face-to-face with bats. As chief scientist of Bat Conservation International, she is on a mission to promote understanding of bats and protect imperiled species from extinction. For months, though, Frick has avoided research that would put her within spitting distance of bats.

The Big Data of Biodiversity

Oct 26, 2020 — UCSC Science Notes: Along the central California coast, a crescent of rocky shoreline cradles the waters of the Monterey Bay. Its reefs and tidepools are teeming with sharp and squishy creatures that call the briny coastline home. But during an afternoon low tide on an unseasonably warm February day, a patch of coast just south of the town of Monterey is crawling with dozens of alien visitors: clipboard-wielding scientists in rubber boots, shouting to each other over the din of the wind and waves.

PODCAST: Tough decisions- Child care during a pandemic — Santa Cruz Local Answers, episode 5.

Parents and child care providers worry about the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Santa Cruz Local's Jerimiah Oetting answers your questions about child care rules in Santa Cruz County during the coronavirus emergency: How can we expect young children in daycare to socially distance? What is the county doing to ensure these facilities are safe? This is the fifth installment of "Santa Cruz Local Answers," where Jerimiah tackles your coronavirus-related questions. Submit your questions: www.santa

California’s ban on shark fins doesn’t stop the trade from passing through its ports

This story evolved out of one of my first assignments as a student in the UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program. It became an investigative feature that required independently filing my first FOIA request, and revealed a previously unreported shark fin seizure at the Port of Oakland — one of the largest in U.S. history. I conducted over a dozen interviews, some with tight-lipped federal employees and special agents for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. An abridged form was published on the front page of the Mercury News — it was also published online in its full 2,400 words. This piece helped me land an internship with the Mercury News in the winter of 2020.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes hired me to develop ways to communicate fire science to the park's visitors and the surrounding community. The first three episodes of the new podcast series I created, called "The Natural Laboratory," are focused on the park's complex relationship with wildfire. I painstakingly crafted each episode, from the music to the reporting, writing and editing. The park plans to continue the series with interpretive staff and future science interns.

Links below will direct you to the Apple Podcast page for each episode.

‎The Natural Laboratory Ep1 — The Legacy of Fire at Point Reyes on

Point Reyes National Seashore was part of California's historic wildfire season in 2020. The Woodward Fire was relatively small, but it still threatened nearby communities with evacuations and smoke. In the first podcast episode of the Natural Laboratory series, Jerimiah Oetting dives into how the Woodward fire compares to its predecessor, the 1995 Vision Fire. He also explores how climate change and fire suppression drive the increasing intensity of wildfires in the West.

The Natural Laboratory Ep3 — How Wildlife Withstand Wildfires

Point Reyes is home to a great variety of animals. Half of North America's birds have been spotted in the park, not to mention its reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals. How do these creatures respond to a fire? In this episode, Jerimiah Oetting speaks to park scientists to learn how certain vulnerable species might be impacted by wildfires. Join us as we hoot for owls and track one of the more elusive and curious species in the park, the Point Reyes mountain beaver.

Princeton University

As a science writer for Princeton University's Office of the Dean for Research last summer, I wrote long-form magazine features, including the cover story, for Discovery: Research at Princeton Magazine. I also wrote the occasional press release

Of lava lamps and living cells

Maybe it was all the late nights staring through a microscope, pondering the materials of cells. Or perhaps it was the work-induced hallucinations that followed —the soft, squishy building blocks of life, stuck in his vision, superimposed on the cold and rigid bricks of Boston. Whatever caused it, Brangwynne saw cells and their structures a little differently than other scientists, and it would lead him to a major discovery that had been hiding in plain sight. Get to know your inner-blobs. My feature for Princeton's Discovery: Research at Princeton Magazine

A taste for humans: How disease-carrying mosquitoes evolved to specialize in biting us

There are two paths. One leads to the arm of Noah Rose, a postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University. The other leads to a guinea pig. For some species of mosquitoes, their preference for humans reveals something about their evolution — and the ecology of their ancestral homes. New research, published July 23 in the journal Current Biology, identifies the genetic components underlying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes’ affinity for humans and indicates that their human-seeking behavior can be

Santa Cruz Local

In the first months of the global pandemic, when California began sheltering in place, I produced a series called Santa Cruz Local Answers. In each of its five episodes, I leveraged my science journalism background to answer listener-submitted questions related to COVID-19. The series received thousands of listens.

I continue to contribute to Santa Cruz Local as a freelancer covering local news.

Vaccines came slowly for most vulnerable in Santa Cruz County

An investigation I led into the vaccine rollout in Santa Cruz County revealed that some of the area's most vulnerable residents received inoculations over a month after the vaccine became available, even as the county expanded access to seniors in the general population that weren't living in congregate care. The slow pace of the federal pharmacy program may have caused unnecessary deaths in a population that has suffered the brunt of the pandemic nationwide.

Capitola child care program becomes more affordable with county help

The City of Capitola offers a city-sponsored child care program, as Soquel Union Elementary School District campuses remain closed due to risk of COVID-19 spread. (William Duncan — Santa Cruz Local) CAPITOLA >> Families that attend Soquel Elementary, Main Street Elementary, Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary and New Brighton Middle School will have more affordable access to a city-sponsored supervised homework help program that frees parents to work. The Capitola City Council voted unanimously Thur

Ramsay Park bike pump track plan moves forward

WATSONVILLE >> The Watsonville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved plans for a bike pump track located at the site of an older skate park in Ramsay Park. The vote included an agreement between the city of Watsonville and the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, a mountain bike trail nonprofit organization, that would lead construction and design. Funds for the project came from private donations to Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz. “This pump track is really just the start of our endeavors of

Santa Cruz County rail corridor transit options to be narrowed

SANTA CRUZ >> One transit option from four final contenders for the Watsonville-to-Santa Cruz rail corridor is expected to be recommended by Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission staff in October. The decision could shape the future for Santa Cruz County commuters for years to come. The recommendation comes from these options: • an autonomous train on wheels, similar to a bus Detailed cost estimates also will be included in the transportation commission’s “virtual open house” Oc

PODCAST: Tough decisions- Child care during a pandemic — Santa Cruz Local Answers, episode 5.

Parents and child care providers worry about the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Santa Cruz Local's Jerimiah Oetting answers your questions about child care rules in Santa Cruz County during the coronavirus emergency: How can we expect young children in daycare to socially distance? What is the county doing to ensure these facilities are safe? This is the fifth installment of "Santa Cruz Local Answers," where Jerimiah tackles your coronavirus-related questions. Submit your questions: www.santa

PODCAST: What's the plan for antibody testing? — Santa Cruz Local Answers, episode 4

Santa Cruz Local's Jerimiah Oetting answers your questions about antibody testing: What is it? Is it available in Santa Cruz County? How reliable are the tests? And is the county pursuing antibody testing? This is the fourth installment of 'Santa Cruz Local Answers,' where Jerimiah tackles your coronavirus-related questions. Submit your questions to www.santacruzlocal.org/coronavirus. Or email a question to answers@santacruzlocal.org. Get Santa Cruz Local's free email newsletter: https://mailchi

PODCAST: Your Questions On Testing — Santa Cruz Local Answers, episode 1

Santa Cruz Local's Jerimiah Oetting answers your questions on coronavirus testing: Who gets tested? What is the process? How long does it take? Why is testing limited in Santa Cruz County and when will that change? Jerimiah talked to a medical leader, a scientist and others to get some answers. This is the first installment of 'Santa Cruz Local Answers,' where Jerimiah tackles your coronavirus-related questions. Submit your questions to www.santacruzlocal.org/coronavirus . Read the transcript to

The Mercury News

In the winter of 2020, I interned at the San Jose Mercury News. I covered science and the environment alongside some of the Merc's brilliant reporters, including Lisa Krieger and Paul Rogers.

Due to the Merc's paywalls and pop-up ads, I present my work here in PDF format. Links to the original work can be found in the PDF.

California’s ban on shark fins doesn’t stop the trade from passing through its ports

March 3, 2020 — Mercury News: Through a FOIA request and contacts I made through federal and state agencies, I uncovered one of the largest shark fin seizures in U.S. history at the Port of Oakland. The seizure illuminated that shark fins — which are illegal to possess and sell in California — were still transiting through the state's ports, typically en route from Central America to Hong Kong.

UCSC Science Communication Program

Below are examples of my early class and internship work while attending the UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program. The list includes a variety of publications, representing the diverse science communication training provided by the program. Also included are pieces I wrote during my internship with the Monterey County Weekly.

Whales are being killed by shipping traffic at alarming rates. A new initiative aims to help.

Of the many cargo ships in California, only a tiny fraction pass through the large swathes of marine habitat along the coast, such as the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It’s unknown how many of these ships collide with whales, but research indicates the number is much higher than what endangered populations of blue, fin and humpback whales can withstand.
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