McKenzie Prillaman

Science Writing Intern, Spring 2023

McKenzie Prillaman is 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 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. A close up photo of three yellow crazy ants on a bright white background.

    Invasive yellow crazy ants create male ‘chimeras’ to reproduce

    Yellow crazy ants are first known species where chimerism is required in males: Each of their cells holds DNA from just one of two genetic lineages.

  6. A close up photo of several ghost catfish swimming on a black background while a light is shining on some of their scales which appear iridescent.

    These transparent fish turn rainbow with white light. Now, we know why

    Repeated structures in the ghost catfish’s muscles separate white light that passes through their bodies into different wavelengths.

  7. A photo of two men walking side by side on a road. Both men have a piece of fabric across their foreheads that attaches to a large log on their backs.

    Two scientists’ trek showed how people of Chaco Canyon may have hauled logs

    By carrying a log with the aid of head straps called tumplines, the duo demoed how people may have hauled timbers to Chaco about 1,000 years ago.

  8. A diagram showing every nerve cell in a larval fruit fly brain, in all the colors of the rainbow, on a white backdrop

    Scientists have mapped an insect brain in greater detail than ever before

    Researchers have built a nerve cell “connectivity map” of a larval fruit fly brain. It’s the most complex whole brain wiring diagram yet made.

  9. An overhead photo of a skeleton.

    The Yamnaya may have been the world’s earliest known horseback riders

    5,000-year-old Yamnaya skeletons show physical signs of horseback riding, hinting that they may be the earliest known humans to do so.

  10. A photo of a boy with an eye drop bottle being held above his eye by his mom in the background.
    Health & Medicine

    Medicated eye drops may delay nearsightedness in children

    Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a growing global health threat. But a Hong Kong study found that medicated eye drops may delay its onset in children.

  11. A microscope image of a nerve cell with colors highlighting special receptors.
    Health & Medicine

    Psychedelics may improve mental health by getting inside nerve cells

    Psychedelics can get inside neurons, causing them to grow. This might underlie the drugs’ potential in combatting mental health disorders.

  12. two 3-D maps of the LRP2 protein
    Health & Medicine

    3-D maps of a protein show how it helps organs filter out toxic substances

    Images of LRP2 in simulated cell environments reveal the structural changes that let it catch molecules outside a cell and release them inside.