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Spoorthy Raman

I love words. I admire science. I put them together to be a science writer. I evolved into a journalist. Now, I write about science, the environment and everything in between for readers big and small.

I also fact-check, edit and teach the craft of science writing.

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My Latest Work

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About Me

I'm an award-winning science and environment journalist based in St. John's, Canada. My words have been published in many national and international media outlets.  

How I Work

Journalism is under attack today from many quarters. Conspiracy theories abound. To win my reader's trust, I believe being critical, transparent and accurate in my reporting is key. 

My Ethos

My ethos lie in treating people and their lived experiences with respect, bringing diverse perspectives in my stories, strengthening relationships with my sources and building communities.

Get in Touch

Liked my stories? Have a story tip? Want to tell me about a cool project you are working on (Scientists, looking at you!)? Interested to work with me? Want me to speak at an event? Let's talk!

My Articles

Diatoms: Storytellers of the past

When diatomist Karthick Balasubramanian visited the Inter-University Accelerator Centre, a research institute in Delhi, he serendipitously met archaeologist C R Gayathri, who too was at the centre with a few ancient pottery shards. They were at the centre to look back in time—biological and archaeological—for their respective research and got talking. Over the next six years, ideas bounced off each other resulting in the first-of-its-kind scientific study that uses diatoms from ancient pottery i
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Sierra Leone cacao project boosts livelihoods and buffers biodiversity

In eastern Sierra Leone, straddling the border of Liberia, lies Gola Rainforest National Park, one of the last remaining intact tracts of the tropical Upper Guinean forests in West Africa. Towering trees with massive buttress roots create a dense, emerald-hued canopy where monkeys hoot, malimbes chatter and hornbills flutter between the branches with their high-pitched honks and impressive wingspans.

Along the park’s fringes, 122 communities own small patches of the jungle within the four-kilom

Conservationists welcome new PNG Protected Areas Act — but questions remain

With more than 70% of the country blanketed by tropical rainforests, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a megadiverse country home to more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity, including charismatic tree kangaroos, egg-laying echidnas and flightless cassowaries. However, since 1972, nearly a third of the country’s rainforest has been lost or degraded due to logging, road construction, agricultural expansion and mining.

In a significant push to conservation, the country’s parliament passed the Protected A

Finding a lost turtle by tapping into people’s wisdom

In the monsoon months of 2019, turtle researcher Ayushi Jain and her team visited a few villages on the banks of the Chandragiri River in Kasargod, Kerala, to check how the Cantor’s giant softshell turtle was doing. Between 1970 and then, scientists had recorded only 15 sightings of this elusive turtle, and recent surveys had spotted none. Jain and her team set out to confirm if the critically endangered turtle had gone extinct in the region.

Local ecological knowledge is the knowledge people h

No joking: Great apes can be silly and playfully tease each other, finds study

Being silly and indulging in humor may sound easy, but our brains need to do a lot of heavy lifting to pull it off. Landing a joke requires recognizing what’s socially acceptable, being spontaneous, predicting how others may react, and playfully violating some social expectations. Until now, research on the complex cognitive abilities that underpin humor has focused primarily on humans, while other species are understudied.

In a recent study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal So

Culture and conservation thrive as Great Lakes tribes bring back native wild rice

In the late summer of 2023, thick stands of wild rice stood tall and shimmered gold in some of Lac du Flambeau’s lakes. The plant has been virtually absent in these lakes for decades, so for Joe Graveen, the sight of grain-filled stalks was a thing of joy, he says. As the wild rice program manager for the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, a tribal band in northern Wisconsin, Graveen was seeing the fruits (or grains, literally) of hard work he and his tribe’s members had put

‘Shocking’ mortality of infant macaques points to dangers of oil palm plantations

For 12 years, primatologist Nadine Ruppert and her colleagues have had one recurring task on their calendar: tagging along with a group of southern pig-tailed macaques in Segari, Peninsular Malaysia, as these primates hop between native rainforests and the neighboring oil palm plantations. Over the years, the researchers successfully habituated the group: they named every individual, discerned their life histories, and watched their behavior to understand how these monkeys adapt to human-modifie

What principles should define natural climate solutions? A new study has some answers

Following a litany of conferences and calls that stress the urgency to address climate change, there’s growing interest and investments in nature to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Protecting and restoring natural ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, farmlands and oceans, could remove at least 10 gigatons of CO per year by 2050, according to a 2021 report. Besides cooling our planet, these interventions can prevent floods and droughts, conserve biodiversity and, in some cases,
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Birders find help in artificial intelligence

Human relationships with birds have metamorphosed with time. From seeing them as a source of food, gathering their feathers, eggs and skin and hunting them for sport, we have come a long way in appreciating birds for what they are: intriguing life forms that aesthetically please our eyes and make sounds that are music to our ears. Our fascination has morphed into a hobby called birdwatching or birding, a term coined in the early 1900s by British ornithologist Edmund Selous.

When birding began a

In PNG, researchers record 9 new species of predatory hermaphroditic land snails

In the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, where arboreal tree kangaroos, vibrant birds-of-paradise and ornate birdwings hog the limelight with their charismatic presence, teeny-tiny, leaf litter-eating land snails don’t always stand a chance to vie for scientific attention. Although land snail shells hold an essential place in PNG’s culture — as jewelry and adornments in ceremonial clothing — scientific understanding of these mollusks is, at best, patchy.

Worldwide, more 30,000 land snail species

Study: Singapore biodiversity loss is bad — but not as bad as previous estimate

With its iconic skylines and waterfront vistas, Singapore is today a bustling city-state with one of the highest population densities in the world. Two centuries ago, before the British chose to build the port city in 1819, Singapore was covered by rainforests, mangrove forests and swamp forests. In the two centuries that followed, these forests were cleared to make way for people, plantations and concrete structures, and iconic species like tigers and leopards vanished.

A new study estimates t

India's grasslands in peril

From the lofty Himalayas to the montane Shola forests of the Western Ghats, from the arid Thar Desert to the fertile floodplains in the east, grasslands once covered nearly two-thirds of India. An understory of grass dominates these landscapes, while woody plants lie scattered in the mix.

The study found a steep decline in plant species growing in altered landscapes compared to old-growth savannas, with agricultural lands recording the least. Tillage agricultural land also had the fewest native

Logging, road construction continue to fuel forest loss in Papua New Guinea

Plonked between the formidable Owen Stanley mountains to its west and the Solomon Sea to the east lies Oro, a remote province in Papua New Guinea east of the capital Port Moresby. Lush, green tropical rainforests, with their famed canopies, blanket the land while rivers and streams glitter in hues of turquoise and emerald—a landscape found across much of Papua New Guinea (PNG), where 71.8% of land still harbored primary forest in 2022, according to data from monitoring platform Global Forest Wat

Tracing turtle trafficking routes in India

Cuddling a palm-sized tortoise, which shyly withdraws its head into its patterned shell, seems so appealing that it has spurred a growing interest among people to own it as a pet. For some, its meat—especially the soft gelatinous tissue on the lower shell called calipee—is appetising. The result: Tortoises and turtles are now the most trafficked animals in the multi-billion-dollar international wildlife trade.

A recent study by researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society - India (WCS-India

To keep track of salmon migrations in real time, First Nations turn to AI

Between spring and fall each year in coastal British Columbia, when salmon migrate upstream, the region’s First Nations manually count the number of fish passing through to get a sense of how healthy the population is. But it’s work that takes place in remote and hard-to-access streams of the province, making it laborious, time-consuming, and often error-prone.

So for a recent study, marine scientists, computer scientists and conservation practitioners partnered with Indigenous-led fisheries or

Outrage: Great Green Wall crumbling

At first glance, deserts seem featureless and inert. The never-ending vastness of parched earth, sprinkled with shrivelled life forms, comes across as a mysterious terrain that induces dread. Look a little closer and you can see how dynamic and ever-changing their fringes are. As rainfall varies, it redraws the borders. When there is good rain, the edges come alive with vegetation in all shades of green; when precipitation is sparse, they turn brown and dry.

But as human-induced activities such

Study: Despite armed conflicts, Indigenous lands have better environment quality

For nearly 2,000 years, the Indigenous Karen people of southeast Myanmar have led a relatively tranquil life in the hilly forests that are part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot. But in the last seven decades, Karen civilians have found themselves entangled in the world’s longest armed conflict, between the Karen National Union and the Myanmar military regime—a battle over self-determination that’s been a part of the wider Myanmar civil war.

For them, the forests their ancestors once stewa

Big promises to Indigenous groups from new global nature fund — but will it deliver?

VANCOUVER — The devastating wildfires in the interior of British Columbia, Canada, in mid-August, forced the province into a state of emergency and gloom. But just a few days later, as the smoky skies of Vancouver began to clear up, environmentalists found a reason to cheer.

About 1,500 delegates representing environmental ministries, youth, women, Indigenous Peoples, and civil society gathered in the coastal city to promise a slew of actions to save the planet’s biodiversity. One of them came

Expected ship traffic to LNG Canada port could see whale deaths also rise

In September 2022, researchers at BC Whales, a Canadian research nonprofit studying cetaceans in the north of British Columbia province, gasped when they saw a drone image of a humpback whale known as Moon. Each summer, she regularly visited the many meandering waterways in the region with her calves, along with hundreds of other humpbacks, feeding in the food-rich, tranquil waters. But this time, she looked different.

Moon’s spine was crooked and her back half was paralyzed, probably after bei

How to make the leap into industry after a PhD

You can also search for this author in PubMed Google Scholar

Spoorthy Raman is a freelance science and environment journalist in St. John’s, Canada.

Landing that first job in industry requires planning, homework and networking — and a bit of soul-searching.

Melanie Zeppel stepped off the academic path to become a data scientist in industry. Credit: Stephen Jackson

Plant physiologist Melanie Zeppel had heard that hard work, a good publication list and securing highly competitive postdoctoral

Progress is slow on Africa’s Great Green Wall, but some bright spots bloom

The southern fringes of the Sahara are dynamic. As rainfall varies, land patches on the edge chop and change between green and arid brown. Human activities, like overgrazing, deforestation or poor irrigation, further degrade some of the already arid parts of the Sahel, resulting in desertification. As the planet heats up, changes in rainfall patterns can cause longer dry spells on the southern boundaries of the Sahara, stretching the desert further down, and affecting nearly a million people and

Snakebite: India’s silent killer

Inherently shy, snakes can turn defensive when disturbed or threatened. The slithering reptiles then bite by injecting a cocktail of toxins at the intruder through their fangs. Based on the species of snake, the toxins can over time cause respiratory paralysis, bleeding, breakdown of muscle fibres, shocks, organ failures, and death. It only takes a few hours to sniff out human life with a snake bite.

Studies estimate that each year, about five million snake bites occur around the world, while 8

Volunteers, First Nations work to bring back a disappearing oak prairie

On the eastern edge of Victoria, British Columbia, abutting the Salish Sea, sits Uplands Park, spanning about 30 hectares, or 74 acres, amid the bustling municipality of Oak Bay. Although an urban park, it lacks manicured lawns, ornamental flowers or asphalted walkways — quintessential elements of modern-day urban parks.

Instead, the landscape is sprinkled with stunted, gnarled and crooked oak trees. A few shrubs of snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and ocean spray (Holodiscus discolor), and som
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