McKenzie Prillaman

Science Writing Intern, Spring 2023

McKenzie Prillaman was the Spring 2023 science writing intern at Science News. She holds a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience with a minor in bioethics from the University of Virginia. She also studied adolescent nicotine dependence as a postbaccalaureate fellow at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. After figuring out she’d rather explain scientific research than conduct it, she worked at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and then earned a master’s degree in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work has appeared in NatureScientific American, Mongabay, Eos and the Mercury News, among other publications.

All Stories by McKenzie Prillaman

  1. An illustration showing the thymus as an orange ball at the base of a blue person's throat with a blue background.
    Health & Medicine

    The thymus withers away after puberty. But it may be important for adults

    The thymus is considered somewhat unnecessary in adults. But a new study finds that its removal is associated with heightened risks of death and cancer.

  2. A photo of Crawford Lake with trees surrounding it.

    Canada’s Crawford Lake could mark the beginning of the Anthropocene

    The mud of a Canadian lake holds an extremely precise record of humans’ influence on Earth. But the Anthropocene isn’t an official geologic epoch yet.

  3. photo of a bottlenose dolphin mom and calf

    Bottlenose dolphin moms use baby talk with their calves

    When their babies are near, bottlenose dolphin moms modify their signature whistles, similar to human parents speaking in baby talk.

  4. A photo of a woman putting a spacesuit helmet on astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

    Brain cavities that swell in space may need at least 3 years to recover

    MRI scans of astronauts show that duration in space and time between flights affect how much the brain’s fluid-filled cavities expand during missions.

  5. 'The 84-Gun Danish Warship "Dronning Marie" in the Sound' painting, which shows one large ship sailing flanked by two small ships

    19th century painters may have primed their canvases with beer-brewing leftovers

    Several paintings from the Danish Golden Age contain remnants of brewer’s yeast, barley and other grains commonly used to brew beer.

  6. People wearing gloves and full-body personal protective equipment prepare a COVID-19 test for a person sitting in a car wearing sunglasses
    Health & Medicine

    WHO declares an end to the global COVID-19 public health emergency

    Global COVID-19 deaths are down and immunity is up. But with the virus here to stay, it’s time to shift to more long-term health measures.

  7. A Lab-Q sign advertising free walk-up COVID-19 testing sits on a public sidewalk. People walk in the background.
    Health & Medicine

    The U.S. COVID-19 public health emergency is ending. What does that mean?

    The declaration, made early in the pandemic, made tests, vaccines and treatments free to all. On May 11, the proclamation ends.

  8. A CT scan image showing a human brain in yellow with a big patch of green in the middle of the brain.
    Health & Medicine

    Ultrasound allows a chemotherapy drug to enter the human brain

    An early-stage clinical trial demonstrates a technique for getting a powerful chemotherapy drug past the usually impenetrable blood-brain barrier.

  9. An overhead photo of a small dog sitting on the lap of a person in a yellow long sleeve shirt working on a laptop.
    Health & Medicine

    Pets and people bonded during the pandemic. But owners were still stressed and lonely

    People grew closer to their pets during the first two years of COVID. But pet ownership didn’t reduce stress or loneliness, survey data show.

  10. A photo of a man and a woman sharing a pair of headphones while listening to music on a handheld device.

    Native language might shape musical ability

    People who speak tonal languages, where pitch alters meaning, are better at perceiving melody but worse at rhythm than speakers of nontonal languages.

  11. A photo of a punctured animal bone fragment on a black background.

    A prehistoric method for tailoring clothes may be written in bone

    A punctured bone fragment was probably a leatherwork punch board. Perforated leather sewn together may have been seams in clothing.

  12. A photo of a dark room with a projector screen showing a film about the origin of a star cluster. The outlines of people and stars are on the screen frozen while stars light up the ceiling.
    Science & Society

    The Smithsonian’s ‘Lights Out’ inspires visitors to save the fading night sky

    The exhibition examines how light pollution harms astronomy, ecosystems and human cultures. But it also offers hope.