Public Health in a Warming World

Public Health in a Warming World
Interviews with Dr. Paul Epstein

Interviews with Dr. Paul Epstein

In January 2011, I interviewed Dr. Paul Epstein, co-founder of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, for a video. Paul had a talent not only for research, but for communicating it with lucidity and compassion. His "foggy voice" (as his good friend, author Ross Gelbpsan describes it) drew you in and made you listen. As is so often the case, we used only a small fraction of his wonderful interview for the program we were producing. A few months later, Paul died of lymphoma.

In collaboration with director, editor Ian Brownell, and Mary Dewart, producer of the original video for Climate Change Action Brookline, I am publishing 11 videos cut from the original footage, with the hope of keeping Paul's vision alive at a time when his message is more urgent than ever.

Life in Death Valley

Headed for Death Valley?

Stock up on beer! A six-pack of Sam sets you back about $14.00 once you're inside the park... in this blog, check out some natural history, a haunted hotel, a look at the Ranch at Furnace Creek and a very useful shopping list.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gnocchi-Making Italian Seeks Beginning of the Universe

My sister's boyfriend Michele Limon is an astrophysicist. One summer afternoon a couple of years ago he organized a gnocchi-making festival in a 1920's former hotel in Isle-au-Haut Maine. All day long, children, teenagers, 20-somethings, parents and grandparents twisted long strings of floured potato dough hanging over every chair, counter, and cabinet door in the kitchen into perfect little gnocchi clouds.

Michele was part of another team that may have discovered some of the universe's oldest stars.  In 2006 a receiving device called the Arcade that Michele helped to launch began picking up strange radio static. At first the Goddard team thought they were making some kind of mistake, but eventually determined the radio static was really there. But what was it? Today, the team thinks the static could be coming from the ghosts of ancient, metal-free stars that had been formed by clouds of helium and hydrogen. If they're right, then these gassy masses exploded like gigantic Hindebergs in the earliest days of the universe.

Looking that far back in time is best done from the high, dry mountaintops in the Atacama Desert. When Michele first started going to Chile, the mountains were pretty desolate but today the area is packed with fellow star-gazers from all over the world. One spot bristles with over 60 antennas. Clusters of road signs direct crews to every experiment. At 8000 feet, the village of San Pedro boasts a thriving astronomic industry with over 30 restaurants and tourist attractions like ancient ruins, hot springs and flamingos in lagoons. 

Michele designs and deploys instruments that peer into the universe's ancient past. His father, an optician, crafted lenses and sold glasses and his son carries on in a tradition of developing technology that helps people see the world and the universe. While his uncle encouraged him to go to business school, Michele found that pursuit mind-numbing but there is  nothing boring about looking at the beginning of time and getting a glimpse of the evolution of the universe. Michele can't imagine anything more gratifying. 

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Professional Experience

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Cover developments in cancer research and treatment; work with principal investigators and staff to craft donor reports and articles for publication.

Harvard University School of Public Health
Worked with faculty to develop distance learning programs that incorporate video, discussion, networking, and assessment.

Scripted mobile apps and songs for educational activities.

AARTPACK Interactive
Science editor
Scripted over 80 standards-based science and math activities for use on interactive whiteboards.

Harvard University
Correspondent – HarvardScience Website
Wrote online articles about Harvard scientists.
Geology is Destiny, A Profile of Paul Hoffman

Writer –
Dig It! The Secrets of Soil
Exhibit and website explore the importance of the earth's soil and its affect on climate. Developed and scripted numerous programs including Chef's Challenge, an animated/live action short that pits two soil chefs against each other. Boston Productions, MFM Design

LOTT Alliance, Olympia, WA
Visitors Center
Visitors control a drop of water as it works its way from the clouds to a treatment plant and troubleshoot problems during a flood. Boston Productions

Department of Homeland Security – Northeast Regional Advisory Council
Copywriter – It's Up to You to Stop the Flu
Developed concept and copy for advertising campaign. Wrote copy for television spot, transit ad, poster and PowerPoint presentation. Winner: CINE Golden Eagle. Geovision

Writer – Cape Cosmos
Developed content and scripts for website about the relationship between the Civil Rights Act and the space race. Kids explore Cape Cosmos to learn about women and African Americans who broke social barriers and made achievements in science and technology.

Scripted song lyrics and wrote all collateral material for ad campaign that teaches subtle signs of stroke. Distributed internationally. Geovision

The Connecticut Science Center, Harford, CT
Writer for Media
Scripted more than thirty interactive exhibits about weather patterns, global warming, mountain-building, and preventative health. Boston Productions, Thinc Design

We Treasure Elephants, The Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA
Writer for Media and Interpretive Text
Developed content for exhibit story. Worked with museum designer to conceive and develop 3-D elements and panels that communicate changes in elephant populations. Scripted a conservation game based on research done by the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project. Boston Productions, Trace Design Group

Gray Fossil Museum, Johnson City, TN
Wrote scripts and created storyboards and flow charts for games for museum overlooking Miocene fossil pit. Visitors assemble virtual fossils or determine whether the animal was a carnivore, an herbivore or a reptile by looking at a single tooth. Boston Productions, Gallagher & Associates

Build-A-Business, Newark Children's Museum, Newark, NJ
Content Developer, Instructional Designer, Writer
Created learning objectives, interactive design, content, and script for video game in which visitors operate a bakery and learn fundamentals of running a business. Game pay-off highlights social benefits of entrepreneurship such as providing employment and contributing to a vibrant community. Boston Productions

The Discoveries Project, D. C. Heath, Lexington, MA
Head Writer
Led a team of writers, graphic designers, video producer, programmers, and composer. Immersive multimedia programs appealed to multiple learning styles. Students explored virtual worlds that offered realistic settings, video, animation and interactive games. Natural history programs featured an in depth look at the Sonoran Desert and The Everglades.

Children's Television Workshop/Sesame Street
Lyricist, Scriptwriter
Wrote classic song lyrics including The Toothpaste Song and The Library Song. Scripted several short films. Geovision


BA English Literature, University of Notre Dame
MS Communications, Boston University

Associations and Memberships

National Association of Science Writers (NASW)
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
Ed Tech Up, Boston