Stephen Ornes

Stephen Ornes

Stephen Ornes is an award-winning science and medical writer in Nashville, Tennessee, whose articles have appeared in Scientific American, Discover, The Washington Post, Cancer Today, Science News for Students, and other outlets. His first book was a 2008 young adult biography of mathematician Sophie Germain, and he contributed two chapters to The Science Writers' Handbook. Visit him online at, or on Twitter @stephenornes.

A new study adds to a growing body of research aimed at understanding how a mother’s body’s response to infection influences a growing fetus. In research published this week in mSphere, researchers at Columbia University report that the sons of pregnant women who tested positive for antibodies against genital herpes (herpes simplex type 2, or HSV-2) at mid-pregnancy are more likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The study is the first to connect maternal response to infection with autism risk.  

A new study on dogs' diets could be used as an initial step toward using microbiotic information to customize pet diets. 

Researchers report that the ratio of proteins and carbohydrates in a canine’s daily diet have a significant influence on the balance of microbes in its gut.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017 14:35

Recycling Iron in the Ocean

Scientists used a variety of -omics tools to study the mechanisms used by Roseobacter bacteria to take in and use iron in the ocean.

New research shows how bacteria claim heme, an iron-containing molecule in the ocean, directly from algal cells that have died and disintegrated.

A new study is the first step in understanding the microbiome of the Arctic Inuit community, and also in finding ways to prevent mercury poisoning.

Researchers have characterized the gut microbiome of the Canadian Artic Inuit. Their diversity of gut microbes is remarkably similar to their urban counterparts.

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 12:24

Metagenomics for Foodies

Kefir is a viscous, sour-tasting, slightly alcoholic, milk-based beverage that's been consumed for centuries. It's made by adding a starter mix of bacteria and yeast – called the kefir “grain” – to pasteurized cow milk, though brewers have reported success with milk from goats, sheep, buffalo, and soy. As fermented dairy products go, it still lags behind yogurt and cheese in popularity, but in recent years kefir has enjoyed a surge in global sales.