mary-oharaMary O’Hara is an award-winning social affairs journalist and author of the book Austerity Bites. She writes for publications including The Guardian and The Observer and appears regularly on broadcast outlets and other forums in the USA and UK. Mary was educated at St. Louise’s Comprehensive in Belfast and at Magdalene College, Cambridge where she read social and political science.

In 2010 she was an Alistair Cooke Fulbright Scholar at UC Berkeley, California where she conducted research on press coverage of mental illness and suicide. She authored the most recent Samaritans’ Media Guidelines on reporting suicide, is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts and is a trustee of the charity Arts Emergency. Mary is currently a communications lead for Fulbright/TedX in Southern California and writes a monthly social policy column for The Guardian: Lesson From America. She was Special Rapporteur for the European Day of Persons with Disabilities 2014 and will reprise the role in 2015.

Twitter: @maryohara1

What is your feature about?

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2007/2008, numerous questions have arisen around the impact of economic downturns and austerity policies on people’s mental wellbeing. My article takes an in-depth look at the some of the key issues, including any connection between austerity policies and suicidal behaviour, drawing on empirical evidence and research from around the world.

What did you learn that you didn't expect?

The most illuminating thing I learned in this process, apart from how complex the links between mental health and financial and economic problems can be, is that when it comes to the fallout of the ‘Great Recession’ and austerity for public health it is likely to be many years before the true impact can be fully calculated.

Read Mary's article on Mosaic from 6 October 2015.

Carrie ArnoldCarrie Arnold is a freelance science writer covering many aspects of health and the living world. Before that, she worked in the field of public health for many years. She has written for a wide variety of magazines and other publications, including Scientific American, Discover, Slate, Aeon, Nautilus and Women’s Health.Carrie lives in Virginia with her husband and cat.

Carrie previously wrote 'Can America cope with a resurgence of tropical disease' and ‘Saved: How addicts gained the power to reverse overdoses’ for Mosaic.

Twitter: @edbites

What is your story about?

I first got the idea when two of my friends had babies. One of them couldn't breastfeed her child and was looking into obtaining extra milk from other local moms. Another friend had a micro-preemie and struggled to establish a milk supply with the premature birth and the stress of having her baby in the NICU, not knowing if she would make it. While all of this was happening, a friend from college, who is a NICU nurse, posted on Facebook about a fundraiser for the hospital's milk bank that featured Jen Canvasser, one of the piece's main characters. These stories opened my eyes to the world of donor breast milk. Although I knew that women had been breastfeeding each other's babies for thousands of years, I had never heard of donor milk banking.

As I dug into the story more, I realized how many facets the story had. You have mothers trying to save their babies, other mothers donating extra breast milk, and hospitals trying to save the tiniest babies. But the demand for donor milk is growing so much that there's not always enough for everyone who needs and wants it. What do you do then? Some companies have begun paying women for their excess breast milk, but not everyone thinks that's ethical, especially when campaigns target low-income, minority mothers who have historically low rates of breastfeeding.

The story, then, is ultimately about the growing need for donor human milk and how we are struggling to meet the need.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

I've never had kids, and I knew pumping breast milk was difficult and time-consuming, but I never realized just how time-consuming it could be. Mothers who donate their milk are seriously devoted. They spend a lot of time pumping their milk not just for their own child, but for babies they've never met. It's amazing.

I also hadn't thought about what someone might do with their excess milk. I didn't know that donating it was an option, and that there were so many preemies who might need it.

Read Carrie’s feature on Mosaic, publishing 29 September 2015.

Lesley Evans OgdenLesley Evans Ogden is a freelance journalist based in Vancouver, Canada. After scaling the ivory tower, turning a lifelong fascination with birds into a PhD in ecology, she parachuted into the wilds of science journalism. She is a regular contributor at BBC Earth, Natural History, New Scientist and BioScience. Lesley is an alumna of the Science Communications Program at the Banff Centre and the Santa Fe Science Writers Workshop. When not working on her next story she enjoys time with family, trail running, hiking, cycling, watching comedy or mystery, and contemplating contemporary enigmas like how odd socks lose their mates.

You can find her on Twitter @ljevanso.

1  What is your feature about?

My feature is about exploring, and exposing, some of the stereotypes about disability and how it is often portrayed in the media. We seem to have a great desire to dichotomize people into the categories of “disabled” versus “non-disabled,” but I think that labeling does us a disservice in coming to terms with the vast continuum of experiences of being human, and in creating societal tools to address a diversity of needs. Often media stories about disability follow the overused and oversimplified narrative of overcoming tragedy. I wanted to explore a more complex, interesting and nuanced reality. So the idea of reverse integration intrigued me.

2. What did you learn that you didn't expect?

What surprised me was how much I had to confront and overcome my own anxiety, prejudices and preconceived ideas about disability. Speaking to experts, I came to realize that my fear is not unique. Barriers created by fear of difference can lead, and have led, to many different forms of prejudice and discrimination in human societies – not just in the form of “able-ism” around disability. What surprised me about seeing reverse integration in action was its apparent effectiveness in breaking down those barriers.

Read Lesley’s feature on Mosaic, publishing 22 September 2015.


Sue ArmstrongSue Armstrong is a science writer and broadcaster. As a foreign correspondent based in Brussels and then South Africa, she worked for, among others, New Scientist and the BBC World Service. She has worked as a consultant writer for the WHO and UNAIDS for more than 25 years, and was commissioned by the WHO to write a book on AIDS, for which she reported from many of the worst affected countries of Africa and Asia.

Her book on pathology, A Matter Of Life And Death, was published in 2010. p53: The Gene That Cracked the Cancer Code, published in 2014, was ‘highly commended’ by the British Medical Association and shortlisted for the BMA Book Awards 2015 in the Basis of medicine category. She lives in Edinburgh.

Twitter: @armstrong_sue

What is your story about?

It’s about a gene called p53 that is arguably the single most important gene in cancer. Its job is to prevent tumours from forming, and the gene is corrupted by mutation or prevented by some other means from working normally in virtually every case of human cancer. I focus on a group of people in southern Brazil born with mutant p53 in every cell in their bodies, who are therefore extremely vulnerable to cancer, and on the medics and scientists working with them. Where did the mutant gene originate? What effect does it have? What can the Brazilian carriers tell us about how p53 – our bodies’ first line of defence against cancer – works normally and what happens when it goes wrong? In other words, what can they tell us about the dynamics within cancerous cells? Lots, it seems!

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

This gene is almost endlessly fascinating as it seems to play a role in regulating so many of the key processes of living, from quality control of our cells (that’s cancer prevention at work), to ageing, to energy production through metabolism. But what most stopped me in my tracks in writing this story was the testimony of a father whose son George inherited a mutant copy of p53 and died at 17 after a childhood spent in and out of hospital being treated for multiple tumours. It made me realise how high the stakes are in cancer research and how big the gap can be between the promise of science and the delivery. There can be few things more cruel and lonely than the moment a patient and his or her family are told there is no more the doctors can do, they have exhausted all options for treatment, and they are on their own.

Read Sue’s feature on Mosaic, publishing 15 September 2015.

Bryn NelsonBryn Nelson is a former microbiologist who decided he’d much rather write about microbes than mutate them. Since launching his new career in science journalism with a gripping yarn about an electronic watermelon thumper, he has written for the New York Times, Nature, Scientific American, BBC Focus, Science News for Students and many other publications. A resident of Seattle, he has a particular affinity for unconventional travel destinations and double tall lattes.

Twitter: @seattlebryn

Bryn previously wrote 'Medicine's dirty secret' and 'Inside the green schools revolution' for Mosaic.

What is your feature about?

My story is about a severe and chronic form of eye pain whose source isn’t immediately clear. For some people, however, the agony is so excruciating that it can provoke thoughts of suicide. An 82-year-old ophthalmologist named Perry Rosenthal, once hailed for his breakthrough discoveries in the field, has obsessively hunted for the true cause of this mysterious pain. In doing so, he has alienated some former colleagues and become a hero to patients who felt abandoned after their own eye doctors accused them of being dishonest or melodramatic.

Within the past few years, Rosenthal’s potential explanation – that dysfunctional nerves or altered pathways in the brain may be causing some of the worst pain – has begun to catch on. As he gains supporters, more researchers are using the new line of enquiry to devise their own strategies to alleviate the suffering. 

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

I didn’t know beforehand that our corneas are so jam-packed with nerve endings or that the tear film is such a sophisticated and sensitive three-part structure – meaning that the pain triggered by something going wrong in or around the eye can be incredibly intense. I also didn’t realise that few researchers or patients are really happy with the catchall category of “dry eye disease”, which has become something of a dumping ground for anything that can make your eyes feel dry, including chronic eye pain.

Like cancer, though, the range in severity and the underlying mechanisms of “dry eye” may vary enormously. That lesson stuck with me as a surprising example of how little we still know about our eyes and how messy medical science can be. From multiple patients, I also learned how intractable eye pain can take over nearly every aspect of their lives – and even make some wish they were dead.

Read Bryn's feature on Mosaic, publishing 8 September 2015.

Alex O'BrienAlex O’Brien is a freelance science and technology writer. She is a regular contributor for German-based Trademark Publishing and has written for Delayed Gratification and TheLong&Short, among other publications.

Alex previously wrote ‘How to mend a broken heart’ for Mosaic.

Twitter: @obrientweet

What is your feature about?

Cancer surgery - with a specific focus on a new drug derived from scorpion venom that highlights tumours to an unprecedented detail and could be a potential game changer in this field.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

During my week with the Olson research group at the Fred Hutch in Seattle I found that a significant amount of the team aren’t working in labs wearing white coats. In fact, a lot of the work happens in offices and on computers. These are computational biologists and chemists who try to find patterns, algorithms and analyse data – mostly before any typical lab experiments are done. I learned that today maths and computer science (bioinformatics) plays a huge role in research in general.

Read Alex’s feature on Mosaic, publishing 1 September 2015.

Mary-Rose AbrahamMary-Rose Abraham is a multimedia journalist, currently based in Bangalore, India. She was previously a staff producer for several years at ABC News in Los Angeles and New York City. Mary-Rose graduated with honors from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. She was born and raised in Los Angeles.

Twitter: @maryroseabraham

What is your story about?

The intersection of human health and canine health.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

Having grown up in the US, I was familiar with the system of impounding dogs (and cats) and the subsequent euthanasia of millions of these animals every year. In Indian cities, there is no large-scale shelter system, which explains why dogs make their homes on the streets. However, I was surprised to learn that it is against Indian law to kill them. Perhaps in this one narrow measure, India fulfils the words of Mahatma Gandhi: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Read Mary-Rose’s feature on Mosaic, publishing 25 August 2015.

KQKatharine Quarmby is a writer and journalist, and a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. She has worked as a journalist for the BBC, including stints as Newsnight’s science and politics producer, and at The Economist, as well as contributing to newspapers. Her third non-fiction book, Hear My Cry, co-written with ‘honour’ violence survivor, Diana Kader, is published this year by Hachette Poland. Her previous books have won the AMIA International Literature Award and been shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Non-Fiction award, and her journalism has been shortlisted for the Paul Foot Prize. She finds the connection – and clash – between science and society on particular issues completely fascinating, and has written about or made films about genetic modification, the BSE crisis, adoption, genetics and identity, fertility and the nuclear industry.

Katharine previously wrote 'Sex, lives and disability' for Mosaic.

Twitter: @KatharineQ 

What is your feature about?

It’s about testing the case for medical cannabis to be introduced in the UK. I think it’s important to tell controversial stories ‘in the round’ – interview people with widely differing points of view about whether or not there should be reform of our cannabis laws, in this case. I felt it was crucial to hear the voices of scientists on the latest research (on how effective cannabis is a treatment) and of people, many of whom have disabling conditions, who feel that their access to a medicine that they feel is of use to them is denied.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

I’m intrigued by the fact that cannabis still carries such a pariah status as a plant and drug. This means that advocates both for and against are very passionate about their positions. This makes for a good story but puts a lot of pressure on scientists, somewhere in the middle, trying to puzzle out the benefits and harms of cannabis.

Read Katharine's feature on Mosaic, publishing 18 August 2015.

Carrie ArnoldCarrie Arnold is a freelance science writer covering many aspects of health and the living world. Before that, she worked in the field of public health for many years. She has written for a wide variety of magazines and other publications, including Scientific American, Discover, Slate, Aeon, Nautilus and Women’s Health. Carrie lives in Virginia with her husband and cat.

Carrie previously wrote ‘Saved: How addicts gained the power to reverse overdoses’ for Mosaic.

Twitter: @edbites

What is your story about?

Few of us think much about the world of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that surround us. Especially in the US, issues of so-called 'tropical' diseases like toxocariasis, Chagas disease, and neurocysticercosis seem like issues for other countries. With a new wave of these diseases on our doorstep, this complacency could be deadly.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

When I started reporting, I expected to find warning signs. But as I dug deeper and spoke with doctors and locals, especially those in South Texas, I realised that we were long past the time of warning signs. Plenty of people were already suffering from deadly diseases that few of us have heard of or can even pronounce. It's easy to make it an issue of "Them," of travellers bringing diseases back or immigrants arriving from other countries. The issue, though, has much more to do with poverty than anything else. Poverty, like many of these diseases, is already here.

Read Carrie’s feature on Mosaic, publishing 11 August 2015.

emma youngEmma Young is an award-winning science and health journalist. A former reporter and editor on New Scientist, working in London and Sydney, she now freelances from an attic in Sheffield. As E L Young (in the UK, Emma in the US), she is also the author of the STORM series of science-based thrillers for kids. 

Emma previously wrote ‘Can you supercharge your brain?’ and ‘Secrets of the strong-minded’ for Mosaic.

What's your feature about?

The fundamental, 'behind-the-scenes' influence of smell on our daily lives.

What did you learn that surprised you?

One: people are a lot better at smelling than I'd thought. Two: smells from other people can influence our judgements of not only their psychological state but their abilities.

Read Emma’s feature on Mosaic, publishing 4 August 2015.

Mike IvesMike Ives is a journalist based in Hanoi, Vietnam, and a regular contributor to the Economist, the New York Times and other publications. He has reported on business, politics, science, art, food, health, travel, architecture, real estate and the environment.

Twitter @mikeives

What is your feature about?

It explores the state of healthcare in Myanmar. The country is in the middle of a landmark political metamorphosis, and healthcare is one of several areas where the government is planning deep reforms. But Myanmar's healthcare infrastructure is rickety after decades of neglect, and some wonder if it has the capacity to absorb all the international aid it is receiving. There is also deep distrust lingering between the government and many rebel groups in the hinterlands -- and the distrust further complicates healthcare reform.

Many health experts are confident that Myanmar's healthcare system will improve. The question is how long significant reforms will take to succeed, who will benefit and what may hold progress back. In the meantime, the country's basic health indicators are among the world's lowest. Infectious diseases like TB and HIV/AIDS are also a major source of concern. And scientists worry that drug-resistant malaria along Myanmar's western border could spread to India and beyond.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

I was especially interested in analysis of the links between political reconciliation and healthcare delivery in conflict-affected areas of Myanmar's countryside. The main takeaway is that healthcare reform is a potential dividend, but also a potential disruptor, of Myanmar's ongoing peace process. The actual results will depend on how the reforms are planned and implemented.

Read Mike’s feature in Mosaic, publishing 28 July 2015.

Packing a book for your holidays? How about an audiobook too?

The great thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them whenever and wherever you like – on the beach, during never-ending car journeys or while relaxing at home.

We’ve put together a list of 10 of our favourite podcast episodes –five of our own and five from others – for your summer enjoyment. All are available for free on iTunes and wherever else good podcasts are found.

Case #3 Belt Buckle (Mystery Show)

“Every lost object comes with a mystery that seems hopelessly impossible to solve. The single glove found on the train. The wedding band found on the beach. But the belt buckle was different. It came with clues.”

In Mystery Show, Starlee Kine investigates mysteries – very personal mysteries, the kind that can’t be solved online. Mystery Show is one of the most innovative and well-crafted podcasts around and this is our favourite so far.

Voices in the dark (Mosaic)

“To me it’s not a broken brain; it’s more of a broken story. There’s a broken link between yourself and the story you should live.”

In Mosaic’s first audio documentary, Chris Chapman explores what its like to hear voices. He talks with people who hear voices and the researchers trying to understand them.

How to Become Batman (Invisibilia)

“Today, we’re going to tell you a story that, we think, is gonna make you believe something that you don’t currently believe.”

How do our expectations affect the people around us? Lulu Miller meets Daniel Kish, a blind man who says that others’ expectations have helped him learn to see like a bat.


The Alzheimer’s enigma (Mosaic)

“Alzheimer’s disease may well be a construct, but with no author to decide where the answer lies, we are essentially lost. We may be deep in the labyrinth or just round the corner from the exit.”

Can a mystery really be solved if we gather enough clues? Particularly one that has been puzzling the science world’s best detectives for years.

The man who sleeps in Hitler’s bed (Guardian Long Read)

“When he was five years old, Kevin Wheatcroft received an unusual birthday present from his parents: a bullet-pocked SS stormtrooper’s helmet, lightning bolts on the ear-flaps.”

A tale of history and collecting. Meet Kevin Wheatcroft and tour his obsession: the largest collection of Nazi memorabilia in the world.

Homesick in the modern world (Mosaic)

“Homesickness often feels like unrequited love because we have such a connection with places we are fond of.”

Ten years ago, John Osborne experienced the most intense homesickness he has ever felt. Listen as he describes his return to Vienna and his search for a cure to homesickness.

Make Me a Match (Freakonomics)

“So what kind of work did Al Roth do to land a Nobel Prize in Economics? Well, it’s not the kind of work that typically wins a Nobel.”

Stephen Dubner, coauthor of the Freakonomics series of books, interviews Al Roth, an engineer by training and Economics Nobel Prizewinner, about his career. Roth and others discuss his work setting up organ exchange programs, which have led to 600 additional kidney donations a year in the US.

Why do we have blood types? (Mosaic)

“Why do 40 per cent of Caucasians have type A blood, while only 27 per cent of Asians do? Where do different blood types come from, and what do they do?”

Find the answer to these questions and more, exploring the mysterious and not yet fully understood science of blood types.

He’s Neutral (Criminal)

“He did something desperate, something that makes absolutely no sense to anyone, maybe least of all to Dan himself.”

Dan Stevenson says crime has been an issue in his neighbourhood for years – but he had never called the police about it. Phoebe Judge asks him when he reached breaking point, and the uplifting story of the action he took, with unexpected consequences.

Death in the Outback (Mosaic)

“What’s life without a heart? You can have your health, an education…but without your culture, you just simply aren’t you.”

The story of an Aboriginal girl fostered by a white family in the early 1970s, and the troubled history, and present, of healthcare in Australia’s aboriginal communities.

An audiobook a week: subscribe to the Mosaic podcast!
Available on iTunes, SoundCloud, RSS or wherever good podcasts are found. And if you like what you hear, leave a rating or review.

Calum Wiggins

Linda GeddesLinda Geddes is a Bristol-based freelance journalist writing about biology, medicine and technology. Born in Cambridge, she graduated from Liverpool University with a first-class degree in Cell Biology. She spent nine years as an editor and reporter for New Scientist magazine, and has received numerous awards for her journalism, including winning the Association of British Science Writers’ awards for Best Investigative Journalism, and being shortlisted for the Paul Foot Award. Her book, Bumpology: The Myth-Busting Pregnancy Book for Curious Parents-to-be was published in 2013.

Twitter: @lindageddes

What’s your feature about?

The days of the traditional family with 2.4 children are gone. Today, there are umpteen ways to make a baby and the availability of donor eggs, sperm, and surrogate mothers means you don’t necessarily even need a mum and dad. Gay parents, single mothers by choice, Methuselah mums - my feature questions the impact of these new family forms on the kids they produce, and probes what really matters when it comes to parenting.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

I was surprised to learn that your gender makes little difference to the way you parent – at least, if you are the child’s main carer. When men are handed sole-responsibility for a child’s upbringing, their brains adopt a more “maternal” pattern of response. Also, boys raised by two women are no more feminine in terms of their toy choices or behaviour, than those brought up by a conventional mum and dad.

I was also blown away by the gay couple I interviewed: Chris and Harry, and by the relationship they continue to maintain with their twins’ surrogate mother. These are two sensitive, loving fathers, forging a new path for the children they once believed they’d never have.

Read Linda’s feature in Mosaic, publishing 21 July 2015.

1 Comment

Longform-loving websites Digg and Mosaic are joining forces to commission a compelling, long story that will be published on both sites.

Digg is fascinated by internet culture, while Mosaic explores science, medicine and health. So we’re looking for a story from the intersection of these two realms.

Do you have the story for us? If so, send us a pitch of no more than three to four paragraphs to tell us:

  • What’s the story in a nutshell?
  • What are the main questions you’d be exploring?
  • Which places would you go to report it?
  • How would you tell the story?

Please also include a brief bio and links to other narrative-led, longform pieces (3000 words plus) you’ve written. We offer a competitive rate.

Send your pitch to no later than 7 August 2015.


About Digg

Every day, Digg finds the best written, most interesting, and most talked-about articles on the Internet and brings them together in one place, so you don’t have to go looking.

While our front page spans a wide variety of topics, from science to television to religion, our original content sits at the intersection of science, human nature, and Internet culture. Digg lives and breathes Internet – how it works, how different people interact with it, how it will shape our future – and our readers do too.

Our original long form content mines that interest, from an investigation into why audio rarely goes viral, to one of our editors’ experience with SMS-based Invisible Girlfriend service, to the experience of being mistakenly targeted by angry people on the Internet.


About Mosaic

Mosaic is all about exploring the science of life. Every Tuesday, we publish a narrative, non-fiction longform feature on an aspect of biology or medicine that affects our lives, our health or our society. We tell stories with real depth about the ideas, trends and people that drive contemporary life sciences.

The topics we cover are diverse: everything from the science of faecal transplants, to the people hacking their nervous systems, to asking why we have blood groups.

We publish under a Creative Commons licence, which means that all of Mosaic’s articles can be republished or distributed free of charge.



Geoff WattsGeoff Watts spent five years in academic biomedical research, realised he’d made a mistake in thinking he’d enjoy lab work, and dropped out with no plans for the future beyond staying in touch with science. Journalism eventually offered the ideal escape route, and he’s since divided his time between writing and radio broadcasting.

He’s presented countless programmes on science and medicine for BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and the World Service – but has not yet learned to like the sound of his own voice.

Geoff previously wrote In other words: inside the lives and minds of the simultaneous interpreters for Mosaic.

 What is your feature about?

It’s about our fear of radiation, or rather, as I see it, our excessive fear. Many natural phenomena - heat and cold, for example, or very high and very low pressure - are potentially damaging to health and well-being. By and large, though, we make sensible decisions about them. We recognise they can be dangerous, but we’re not frightened to use them.

Radiation is in a different category. Outside of its role in medicine the prevailing view is that the only good radiation is no radiation. The biggest casualty of this outlook is power generation. As the need for carbon-free sources of energy has grown more pressing, so too has public disdain for a key source of it: nuclear power. And when a nuclear power station develops a fault, or suffers damage leading to a radioactive leak, we panic beyond all reason.

Events ranging from the 1945 atomic bombs to the recent tsunami in Fukushima have given us the facts we need to make rational decisions about the risks of using radiation. The question is whether we’ll take notice of them.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

I learned that if you enjoy lying on a wooden bench in the near dark at 40 degrees Centigrade and 100 per cent humidity while breathing air that’s mildly radioactive, there’s a disused gold mine in Austria that will be more that happy to accommodate you. Moreover, it’s claimed, you’ll be healthier when you emerge than when you entered. Irresistible…

Read Geoff’s feature in Mosaic, publishing 14 July 2015.

Rose GeorgeRose George studied modern languages at the University of Oxford, then international politics at the University of Pennsylvania. She became an intern at the Nation magazine in New York in 2004, in offices so scruffy they were chosen for the set of a Woody Allen film, and has been writing ever since. Her first book, A Life Removed, looked at the reality of refugee life. The Big Necessity, an exploration of sanitation, has been putting people off lunch since 2008, and Deep Sea and Foreign Going (2013), on merchant shipping, enabled her to run away to sea. She is now thinking seriously about blood.

What is your feature about?
It's about many things. The cholera epidemic in Haiti, of course, and why that's still flourishing despite all the effort put into containing it. But it's also about the place of sanitation in the development agenda, and in popular consciousness, and why attention can be turned so quickly from one crisis to the next – from cholera to Ebola, for example – even when so many Haitians are still getting and dying from cholera.

What did you learn that you didn't expect?
I was surprised that cholera was still raging, and so murderous, yet Haitians are so savvy about public health messages, about hygiene and sanitation. They know what cholera is and what it does. The story showed me, yet again, the disconnect between what the development world calls "messaging" and actual behaviour change.

Read Rose's story on Mosaic from 7 July 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 13.15.46Jeremy Hsu is a freelance journalist based in New York City. He frequently writes about science and technology for Backchannel, IEEE Spectrum, Popular Science and Scientific American. One of his ongoing projects includes running the blog Lovesick Cyborg for Discover Magazine, where he examines the impact of technology on the human experience. His website is:

Twitter: @jeremyhsu

What is your feature about?

This is a story about one of the more puzzling diseases known to medical science. Kawasaki disease is a rare condition that can cause children to develop heart disease if they don't receive proper treatment. But researchers still don't know what causes the disease, decades after Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki first described it in 1967. Researchers have been chasing several different theories about what might cause the disease, including a windborne toxin, a virus, and even carpet cleaner.

What did you learn that you didn't expect?

I knew that Kawasaki disease was mysterious, but I was surprised to discover just how much we don't know about it. For instance, the annual number of new cases has been steadily climbing in Japan, but has held steady in the USA. Nobody knows why.

Read Jeremy’s feature on Mosaic, publishing 30 June 2015.

Neil steinbergNeil Steinberg is a columnist on staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He has also written for Esquire, Granta, Rolling Stone, Forbes, Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News and many other publications. The author of seven books, his most recent, You Were Never in Chicago, was published by the University of Chicago Press, which is also publishing his next book, Out of the Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery, written with Sara Bader and due out in the spring of 2016. He writes daily on his aptly named blog

Twitter: @neilsteinberg

What is your feature about?

It’s about the difficulties people who are disfigured must deal with as they confront the world. They are a truly marginalised group, and I wondered whether they were making the kind of progress that others have made at being better understood and accepted by society. I focus on the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Craniofacial Center, and use my own unease as a kind of narrative arc, to show how the apprehension that many feel toward the disfigured evaporates with familiarity, as the humanity that each of us has shines through outward appearances.

What did you learn that you didn’t expect?

I thought that plastic surgery was a relatively modern phenomenon, and was surprised to discover that it goes back many centuries. The care and effort required when creating even a simple facial prosthetic – an ear, for instance – was something I had never considered, and seemed truly extraordinary. I was impressed and humbled by the positive, often cheery, attitudes of the disfigured people I spoke with, how they accepted their situations and overcame them, to the best of their ability.

Read Neil's feature on Mosaic, publishing 23 June 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 11.55.00John Osborne writes books, poems and stories. He regularly performs at festivals including Latitude, Glastonbury and the Edinburgh Fringe and has performed poetry on BBC Radio 1, Radio 3 and 6Music. He has written and performed six half-hour stories on Radio 4, most recently The New Blur Album and Don't Need the Sunshine, an adaptation of his non-fiction book of the same name. He co-wrote and created After Hours, a comedy drama for Sky One, directed by Craig Cash. He lives in Norwich and walks around with his shoelaces undone. Read more at

Twitter: @johnosradiohead

What is your feature about?
My feature is about homesickness. I hate being away from home and started to wonder if there was a cure. How bad a problem can it be? The more I researched the more fascinating the subject became. I was interested in the history of homesickness, the effects that the internet, specifically Facebook and Twitter, can have on homesickness, and how people, from students to refugees, cope around the world.

What did you learn that you didn't expect?
What I learnt that I hadn't expected was how hard it is to define the word homesickness, to the extent that some people claim it does not exist, whereas others can be seriously debilitated by it. I had no idea if there was a cure, but I think through the people I spoke to that I may have found one. Maybe.

Read John's feature on Mosaic, publishing 16 June 2015.

Nic FlemingNic Fleming’s career on what used to be called Fleet Street began 18 years ago on the Daily Express. Through a bizarre series of confusing twists and turns, he progressed from being a hopeless showbusiness reporter and following Princess Diana around to a job as science and medical correspondent at the Daily Telegraph. He is now a freelance writer and editor, working for outlets including New Scientist, the Guardian, the Economist, Nature, BBC Future and Mosaic. 

Twitter: @NicFlem

What is your feature about?
Children with lazy eyes are treated only up to the age of seven or eight because it is assumed that the relevant brain circuits are too fixed for treatment to work beyond this point. Yet research over the last 20 years suggests the brain is more open to being re-moulded later in life than previously thought.

Several groups have reported promising results for video games designed to treat lazy eye by strengthening the signals being directed to patients' weaker eyes. Some study participants who tried early versions of these have given vivid descriptions of suddenly gaining true depth perception for the first time.

If ongoing larger studies confirm the preliminary findings, there are some tantalising prospects. Perhaps children with lazy eyes can be better treated, without the need to endure patching. Maybe adults could be treated, thereby reducing the risk of blindness in later life. Might this mean there are better ways to reverse other acquired cognitive deficits like those caused by stroke and traumatic brain injuries waiting to be discovered?

What did you learn that you didn't expect?
I underwent patching treatment for my lazy eye as a child. As with a large proportion of other patients, the playground mockery I endured was all for nothing as the patch didn't work. During the first interview I did for this piece, I learnt that I don't have true depth perception, which is only possible when the brain integrates the two slightly different signals it receives from two properly functioning eyes.

Learning that most other people see the world differently to how I do was initially quite startling, and speaking to individuals who have gone from seeing in 2D to developing some 3D vision abilities was fascinating. Having the opportunity to try briefly a couple of the experimental video-game-based therapies, and getting some small indications that one of them might have the potential to fix my lazy eye, was intriguing and exciting.

Read Nic's piece on Mosaic, from 9 June 2015.