Notable Essays & Shorter Writing

You can read my writing in The Atlantic, Granta, The New York Times Magazine, Griffith Review, and elsewhere online. I tend to be drawn to stories at the intersection of culture and ecology. I am particularly interested in how our relationships to animals — historical and modern — illuminate shifting attitudes towards ideas like cruelty, connectedness and exceptionalism. My favourite type of story often starts with a scientific finding, but leads off into literature, philosophy, art and observation. If I'm writing about nature, it might equally be through a kitsch, artificial object like astroturf, or via a snail in the garden; or it could be a subject as vast as a whale. 

My work has been anthologised in collections including Best Australian Essays and Best Australian Science Writing. Below is a selection. 

A better way to look at trees (review)
The Atlantic
What pioneering new research has revealed about the forest

Listening to birdsong through the pandemic
The Guardian and anthologised here
Part of a series "Fire, Flood and Plague: Australian authors respond to the crises of 2020"

WHY We're afraid of bats (REVIEW)
The Atlantic
How we know — and how we learn — what animals to fear. 

Letter of Recommendation: Snails
New York Times Magazine
On keeping snails during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tragedy of Charisma (book excerpt)
WIRED
The death of a dolphin raises questions about the role of digital technologies in grieving animal extinction.

The LEECH BAROMETER
Granta
"To be consumed by leeches is to be vital, to be animate, though it is also to be reminded you are something else’s prey, and therefore porous and mortal."

Imagining The Jellyfish apocalypse (review)
The Atlantic
Could stinging, gelatinous blobs take over the world’s oceans?

Animal Kingdom: Salmon on Psychotropics
The Atlantic
Human pharmaceuticals are polluting waterways — and freshwater animals are swimming in a cocktail of our drugs.

Letter of Recommendation: ASTROTURF
New York Times Magazine
Lawns are hardly natural. Why not go all the way?

Whale fall
Granta The Best Australian Essays
"The whale as landfill. It was a metaphor, and then it wasn’t."

What Lies Beneath (Review)
The Atlantic
Burrow below the planet's surface, and even there, humanity has left its imprint.

The Bird on the Floor
The Monthly
Helen Pynor’s bio-art explores life after death.

Animal Kingdom: Bovine Friends Forever
The Atlantic & Best Australian Science Writing
Cows need friends to be happy, but modern farms deprive them of meaningful companionship.

Giants of the deep (Review)
The Atlantic
Technology has changed the way we surveil ocean creatures, and how we understand whale evolution.