amanda heidt

Amanda Heidt

Midway through her master’s degree in marine science, Amanda realized how few scientists felt comfortable speaking about their work. She challenged herself to share her research and ultimately went on to complete a second master’s in science communication at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Formerly an intern at The Scientist, she joined the staff in March 2021 and is now an associate editor, writing for all sections of the print magazine and website and editing the Scientist to Watch, Foundations, and Short Lit sections from her home in Utah. Read more of her work at

Articles by Amanda Heidt
A ball-and-stick plus ribbons molecular model of the hormone orexin, also known as hypocretin, isolated on a white background.
2023 Breakthrough Prizes Showcase Research in AI and Narcolepsy
Amanda Heidt | Sep 22, 2022
Three prizes were awarded to six researchers working across the life sciences on cellular organization, protein structure, and the genetic underpinnings of a chronic sleep disorder.
A 3D rendering of a neuron
Independent FDA Advisory Panel Recommends Approving ALS Drug
Amanda Heidt | Sep 8, 2022
The group’s 7-2 ruling in favor of the therapeutic represents a shift from previous deliberations, in which data on its effectiveness was deemed insufficient.
A photograph of Christine Guthrie and Hiten Madhani
RNA Pioneer Christine Guthrie Dies at 77
Amanda Heidt | Sep 1, 2022
Guthrie established foundational concepts in the field of pre-mRNA splicing during her career at the University of California, San Francisco.
Activists protest. Political riot sign banners, people holding protests placards and manifestation banner. Jobs activist strike, vegetarians meeting or feminist demonstration vector illustration
Unionization Efforts Pick Up Across US Universities
Catherine Offord, Andy Carstens, and Amanda Heidt | Sep 1, 2022
Members of newly certified workers’ organizations at campuses across the US speak about how they achieved official recognition and what they’re planning for the years ahead.
A red sign that reads “Clinical Center, Building 10” outside of a brick building
NIH Fails to Enforce Rules for Reporting Clinical Trial Results
Amanda Heidt | Aug 18, 2022
A review by the US Office of Inspector General found that only about half of the scientists running clinical trials funded by the NIH in 2019 and 2020 appropriately recorded their findings in a federal database, as is legally required.
An illustration of a pregnant women wearing a mask, surrounded by microbes
How COVID-19 Affects Pregnancy
Amanda Heidt | Aug 16, 2022
Evidence thus far shows that pregnant people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are at higher risk for severe disease and death, as well as complications in their pregnancies.
To flag neurons that have experienced genotoxic stress, researchers developed an in vivo sensor using an adeno-associated viral vector, called PRISM. Because a cell’s DNA damage response (DDR)—which activates in response to stressors such as environmental toxins or the buildup of misfolded proteins—also responds to invading pathogens, PRISM has an easier time transfecting cells whose damage response mechanisms are preoccupied with existing DNA damage. Once inside, the virus hijacks the neuron’s DNA replication machinery, which reverts an engineered frameshift mutation in the virus and thereby prompts the production of a fluorescent protein that can be observed via microscopy.
Infographic: DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
Amanda Heidt | Aug 15, 2022
A new genetic sensor called PRISM makes use of a host cell’s DNA replication machinery to trigger fluorescence in neurons with damaged DNA.
Broken DNA
DNA Damage Viewed with Unprecedented Clarity
Amanda Heidt | Aug 15, 2022
A new tool called PRISM draws on virus-host interactions and a DNA repair pathway to help researchers visualize how cellular stress may contribute to neurodegenerative disease.
Ferns bounced back much faster than other plants after the meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Why Did Ferns Persist When All Other Plants Perished?
Amanda Heidt | Aug 15, 2022
A strange layer in the fossil record contains evidence that fern populations exploded following the mass extinction that ended the Cretaceous period. Scientists want to know why.
A male and female lizard sit together on a fence post with grass in the foreground
Climate Change Prematurely Ages Lizards Before They’re Born
Amanda Heidt | Aug 9, 2022
Lizards born to parents that experienced persistent heat had shortened telomeres, a genetic weathering that typically happens with age but can also be exacerbated by stress.