Heather Goldstone

Science Editor, WCAI

Heather Goldstone is the science editor at WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR Station. She holds a Ph.D. in ocean science from M.I.T. and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and spent a decade as an active researcher before leaving the lab to become a writer. 

In her nine years with the Cape and Islands NPR Station, Goldstone has reported on Woods Hole’s unique scientific community and key environmental issues on Cape Cod. Her reporting has appeared in venues ranging from NPR and PBS News Hour to The Cape Cod Times and Commercial Fishery News. Most recently, Goldstone hosted the blog Climatide, an exploration of how climate change is impacting coastal life in the region.


Life Science
1:18 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

How Viagra Could Help Stop the Spread of Malaria

A new study finds that Viagra could prevent malaria transmission by making infected red blood cells too stiff to escape the spleen.

Could Viagra help stop the spread of malaria? A new study by a team of European scientists makes it look like a possibility worthy of further consideration.

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Local News
12:48 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Seven Lab Lit Books (About Scientists) to Get You Through Winter

There are books about cops and books about doctors. John Grisham made his name writing about lawyers. So where are all the scientists? Look no further than the Lab Lit genre.


On what exactly Lab Lit is

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How We Live
8:21 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Diverging Views on the Future of New England's Energy System

New England’s energy system is at a crossroads. Economics and climate concerns are driving a shift away from coal and oil, but experts remain divided on where to go from here.

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NPR Story
11:58 am
Tue December 9, 2014

The Nation's First Research Ship, Seen from the Crew's Perspective


Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 3:53 pm

A new book provides a glimpse of what life was like for the sailors, rather than scientists, aboard an ocean-going research ship in the mid-twentieth century.

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NPR Story
8:19 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Energy Sources at Ends of Lines Could Benefit Everyone

Boothbay Harbor, Maine, has a message for end-of-the-line towns around New England.

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 9:45 am

Boothbay, Maine has a message for end-of-the-line towns around New England: you could make the whole grid stronger.

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Local News
4:42 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Bristol County DA Calls Off Climate Change Show Trial

Two men who used a lobster boat to block a coal shipment headed for Brayton Point Power Station will not face criminal charges.

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Science and Technology
3:30 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Could This Be The End For Gulf Of Maine Cod?

Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Altered and prepared plate from the NOAA Photo Library

New England's cod fishermen are struggling with drastically reduced catch allowances. A new report says the fish are disappearing anyway.

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Science and Technology
1:00 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Five (Science) Books to Take to the Beach

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Beach reading should be enjoyable, of course, but that doesn't mean it has to be brainless.

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Science and Technology
11:02 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Study: New Wave Of Deforestation Poses Threat In Mass.

Houses perforate forest land on Martha's Vineyard.
Credit David Foster / Harvard University

Harvard researchers caution that careful planning is needed to protect Massachusetts forests, and the ecological services they provide.

Massachusetts is in the midst of a new wave of deforestation. The first wave came back in the 1800's when the land was cleared for farms and pasture. Many of those forests have since recovered.

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Science and Technology
11:22 am
Tue September 10, 2013

How Could 'Sterile' Surgical Equipment Cause A Fatal Brain Disease?

Sterilized surgical instruments are prepared for use for surgery.
Credit Chris Thamann / U.S. Navy

Last week, we learned that 13 patients treated in hospitals in New Hampshire and Cape Cod may have been exposed to the protein that causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disease similar to "mad cow disease"

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Science and Technology
5:00 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Climate Changes Forcing Fish Stocks To Migrate North

For decades, fishery management has focused almost exclusively on the need to restrict fishing. Now, environmental changes are forcing fishermen and regulators to reevaluate their traditional practices.

Ernie Eldredge has been fishing all his life - clamming, long-lining cod, and crewing on sea scallop boats. But weir fishing is his love and mainstay. Last May, Eldredge pulled up something (or rather, two somethings) in his Chatham nets that even he’d rarely seen before – an Atlantic croaker and a grey triggerfish.

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Science and Technology
11:56 am
Thu August 1, 2013

Massachusetts' Quest For Renewable Energy

This map shows renewable energy installations in Massachusetts
Credit Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources

Hundreds of people marched outside Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset on Sunday.

The protest was organized by 350MA in an effort to convince Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to shut down New England’s largest fossil-fueled power producer and opt for cleaner energy instead.

The Patrick administration has set a target of getting more than a quarter of the Commonwealth’s electricity needs from renewable or alternative sources by 2020.

The Bottom Line

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Science and Technology
10:18 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

What the Autism-Vaccines Controversy Teaches Us About Scientific Process

Actress and model Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaccination rhetoric pushes scientists' buttons.
Credit Michael Dorausch / Wikimedia Commons

It’s been more than a week since ABC announced that actress and model Jenny McCarthy would join their mid-day talk show, The View, but backlash against the decision continues. At the heart of the controversy is McCarthy’s anti-vaccine activism.

Scientists pride themselves on being rational, able to disagree civilly. Of course, scientists are also human, so it doesn’t always work that way. But few things spark more raw outrage than anti-vaccination rhetoric. Even climate change and evolution might have to settle for consolation prizes in this category. But why?

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8:32 am
Tue July 9, 2013

How Cooperative Research Could Ease Tensions Between Fishermen, Regulators

Rhode Island fisherman Joel Hovanesian points to the bumper sticker he says he created.
Credit Heather Goldstone / WCAI

This week, WGBH News is putting a focus on New England's fisheries with the series Long Haul: the Future of New England's Fishing Industry. WGBH's science editor Heather Goldstone reports on tensions surrounding fishery management.

Tensions between fishermen and the scientists and managers that oversee their industry are more than just unpleasant. They actually affect the quality of fishery research and management.

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Science and Technology
8:29 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Five Ways to Get Involved in Citizen Science

Kindergarteners check out insects during the 2006 Woods Hole BioBlitz. BioBlitzes are intensive biodiversity surveys powered by volunteers.
Credit Jennifer Junker / WCAI

One couldn't dream up a more perfect topic for citizen science than biodiversity. It happens anywhere and everywhere, scientists need more data points than they could ever possibly gather on their own, and you can see (at least some of) it with your own two eyes.

Here are just a few ways you could get involved:

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Life Science
10:01 am
Thu April 4, 2013

How Acoustic Monitoring Could Help Protect Cod Stocks

Sofie Van Parijs, head of NOAA's Passive Acoustic Monitoring group, listens in on underwater sounds.
Credit Credit of NOAA

Here's your science factoid of the day: male Atlantic cod grunt during spawning season. It may sound like useless trivia, but that behavior could help fishery managers better protect cod stocks.

Underwater microphones - hydrophones - installed along the shipping channels leading into Boston already listen for right whales and automatically alert nearby vessels in real time. In fact, you can even get that information on your iPhone.

Now, a new study demonstrates the ability to use a similar method of passive acoustic monitoring to locate aggregations of spawning cod, known as haystacks.

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Life Science
1:43 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Art-science collaborative to debut at Museum of Science

Nathalie Miebach's woven sculptures interpret oceanographic data.

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 11:32 am

Back in June, I spoke with Whitney Bernstein and Michael McMahon about their nascent artist-scientist collaborative, Synergy. The project has now reached fruition; eight artist-scientist teams have produced science-inspired works of art that will be shown at Boston's Museum of Science starting February 16th.

The exhibit spans media from music to abstract video, from sculpture to painting. Each work of art is as unique as the artist-scientist team that came together to create it.

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10:33 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Heather Goldstone on Bottle Ban: Reduce More, Recycle Less

Soda bottles at the Casella Waste Materials Recovery Facility in Charlestown, Mass.
Credit Cristina Quinn / WGBH

WGBH reporter Adam Reilly recently looked into the plastic bottle ban in Concord, Mass, finding the town split between environmental and business concerns.

For additional, environmental context, Morning Edition's Bob Seay talked to Heather Goldstone, author of WGBH's Living Lab.

Bob Seay: What impact can a single town have in banning these bottles?

Heather Goldstone: I think we have to be realistic – the biggest impact will probably be an educational or awareness impact.

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10:44 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

The Science of Fisheries

An aptly named fishing boat in New Bedford Harbor.
Credit animaltourism.com / flickr

There’s nothing new about tension between New England’s fishermen and the scientists and regulators who oversee their industry. But the situation has reached fever pitch in the past two years, in large part due to a federally mandated deadline to end overfishing and the introduction of a new management scheme, known as catch shares, in which a total catch limit is set and the catch is divvied up among eligible fishermen.

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10:00 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Empowering Everyone to Explore Life's Diversity

An unnamed mushroom found in South Carolina and posted on mushroomobserver.org.
Credit Patrick R. Smith / mushroomobserver.org

I feel like I'm becoming a broken record. Each week, my guests wow me with just how little we know about their chosen field. Today, it was the diversity of life on Earth. Earlier this year, Encyclopedia of Life (EOL.org) passed the one million page mark. While that's impressive, it's nowhere close to the project's goal of one page for every species on Earth. In fact, Nathan Wilson, technical director for EOL.org and a curator on the site, says we don't even have a good handle on how many species there are on Earth.

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3:18 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Toxic Chemicals Found in Household Dust

A new study found potentially hazardous levels of flame retardants in household dust.
Credit Heather Goldstone / WGBH

Dust is unsightly, a sign of poor housekeeping, perhaps. But toxic? Unfortunately, yes.

In 2003, researchers from Massachusetts-based Silent Spring Institute sampled dust from 120 homes on Cape Cod looking for hormone-like chemicals known as endocrine disruptors. They followed that up with a study of 50 homes in California. In both cases, they found what they were looking for.

One of the chemicals they found in high levels was a banned flame retardant called PBDE. So they went back, again, to look for other flame retardants in those California homes. And, again, they found what they were looking for in abundance. One class of flame retardants, known as chlorinated Tris compounds, made up as much as 0.1% of dust. That's a lot for a single chemical.

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10:01 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Why Deep Sea Volcanoes Matter

An eruption of an underwater volcano in the Mariana Arc, 2006.
Credit Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, so it’s no surprise that three quarters of volcanic activity happens on the sea floor. Understanding those volcanoes has ramifications for everything from climate science to the evolution of life. But studying volcanoes covered, in some cases, by miles of water is no mean feat. So it’s also no surprise that there are still plenty of discoveries yet to be made and questions remaining to be answered.

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3:12 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Understanding Your Carbon Food-print

Beef has one of the highest carbon footprints of any food.
Credit Rick Harrison / Flickr

While conversations about climate change typically focus on cars or power plants, the food we eat is a major factor that often flies under the radar. Food - it's production, processing, and transport - accounts for nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The irony is that putting a dent in that portion of our carbon footprint could be fairly simple. If everyone in the U.S. avoided meat and dairy one day a week for a year, it would be the carbon-cutting equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road. On the other hand, since transportation actually accounts for just 2% of food-related emissions, eating locally may not be the climate panacea some have made out.

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10:18 am
Tue November 13, 2012

The Pteropod Project: Sea Butterflies, Climate Change, and Art

Artist Cornelia Kavanagh visited WHOI biologist Gareth Lawson’s lab in November 2011 to show him some of the pteropod sculptures on which she was working.
Credit Tom Kleindinst / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

You've no doubt heard of the butterfly effect. Well, Gareth Lawson of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has his own version: the sea butterfly effect. As carbon dioxide emissions build up in the atmosphere, some of it is absorbed by the ocean, where it turns to acid - a phenomenon known as ocean acidification.

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4:08 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

The Art of Telling Science Stories

Ari Daniel Shapiro interviews ecologist E.O. Wilson.
Credit Tracy Barbaro / Encyclopedia of Life

Among those who make a living communicating science to the public, there are two main groups. There are those who began as writers, journalists, film makers, what have you, and somewhere along the way discovered a particular affinity for the subject of science. Increasingly, though, there’s a second group who received formal training in science, may even have made a career as a scientist, but somewhere along the way discovered that research wasn’t quite the right fit and instead turned to telling the stories of science.

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10:15 am
Wed October 31, 2012

On the Cape, Sandy Beaches ... or Not

Storm surge and high surf washed right under this house on stilts on Falmouth's Surf Drive. Sand had to be cleared from the road by bulldozer.
Credit Heather Goldstone / WGBH

Hurricane Sandy couldn't have been more appropriately named. With storm surges of 3-6 feet around the Cape and Islands, and up to 12 feet along the Jersey Shore, coastal erosion is one after-effect that communities in Sandy's path will be wrestling with even after the power is back on.

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6:59 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

30 Issues: What You Need to Know About ... Candidates' Visions for the Future

President Obama and Governor Romney shake hands after their first debate.
The University of Denver Flickr

What the Candidates Think  

Obama: President Obama’s "Economy Built to Last" envisions the United States as a global leader in technology and innovation and his plans are aimed at creating what he calls the jobs and economy of the future. Development of renewable energy and a robust green tech sector are central to his plans for both energy independence and economic growth.

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4:16 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Realizing the Potential of Ocean Energy

Thar she blows! An energy source like a snow hill! A wave towers astern of the ship Delaware II off Massachusetts.
Personnel of Delaware II NOAA

Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth's surface. Those vast waters provide food, enable global shipping and drive the global climate. They could also provide much of the world's electricity needs. Waves, tides, even differences in salinity and temperature, are all potential sources of energy. The trick is harnessing that power.

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2:26 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

The Politics of Science Funding

The money available for science research — and how it can be used — is often determined by politics.

While it may not be the issue that decides elections, funding for scientific research is a fundamentally political beast. Take, for example, President George W. Bush's 2004 manned space exploration initiative - an overhaul of NASA's priorities aimed at putting American men and women back on the moon and, eventually, on Mars. Or there's Sarah Palin's somewhat notorious comments during the 2008 presidential campaign mocking biomedical research using fruit flies and calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars.

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9:08 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Photosynthesis for Children of All Ages

Courtesy of Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Plants and photosynthetic bacteria sustain much of life on Earth. They form the base of food chains both on land and in the ocean, and they produce the oxygen we breathe. Indeed, when the first photosynthetic algae arose some 3 billion years ago, they fundamentally changed our planet — breathing oxygen into the atmosphere and paving the way for life as we know it today.

While photosynthesis is typically covered in elementary and high school science classes, studies have shown that even the most fundamental facts are often forgotten quickly. In contrast, the books we read as children sometimes stay with us for a lifetime.

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