Headshot of Sophie Fessl

Sophie Fessl

Sophie Fessl is a freelance science journalist. She has a PhD in developmental neurobiology from King’s College London and a degree in biology from the University of Oxford. After completing her PhD, she swapped her favorite neuroscience model, the fruit fly, for pen and paper.

Articles by Sophie Fessl
a Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) resting on a reflective surface
Reshuffled Genomes May Explain Cephalopods’ Smarts
Sophie Fessl | May 13, 2022
In two related studies, researchers describe huge chromosomal rearrangements and about 500 novel gene clusters in the octopus, squid, and cuttlefish genomes, which they say could help explain how they evolved their extraordinary brains.
close-up of an Aedes aegypti mosquito on human skin
Researchers Discover What Attracts Mosquitoes to Humans
Sophie Fessl | May 11, 2022
A brain area of Aedes aegypti responds specifically to components of human sebum, a study finds.
Person taking antibiotic pill
What Happens to the Gut Microbiome After Taking Antibiotics?
Sophie Fessl | May 5, 2022
Studies are finding that a single course of antibiotics alters the gut microbiomes of healthy volunteers—and that it can take months or even years to recover the original species composition.
line illustration of DNA with single-strand break
Cancer Cells Break Own DNA to Defend Against Radiation
Sophie Fessl | Apr 28, 2022
Self-inflicted DNA breaks let the cells hit pause on repair of radiation-induced DNA damage, giving them time to recover, an in vitro study shows.
illustration of a blood vessel
Bacteria in Tumors Promote Metastasis in Mice
Sophie Fessl | Apr 7, 2022
Microbes living inside cancer cells may help them spread to distant sites by enhancing the cells’ resistance to mechanical stress, a study shows.
illustration of yellow fish with red stripe down its back
Can These Fish Do Math?
Sophie Fessl | Mar 31, 2022
Scientists find that two species can be trained to distinguish quantities that vary by one.
Steam rises from a blue-gray hot spring, visible beyond a patch of reddish, rocky soil.
Soil Microbes Sacrifice Ribosomes in Response to Warming
Sophie Fessl | Mar 29, 2022
When soil heats up, microbes scale back protein synthesis machinery by making use of higher reaction rates that occur at higher temperatures, a study finds.
colorful parrot-like bird riding a tiny bicycle on a tightrope
Reptiles are the Real Bird Brains
Sophie Fessl | Mar 22, 2022
A research group argues that a species’ number of neurons, rather than brain volume, should serve as indicator of cognitive capacity when studying brain evolution, but some experts voice doubts.
illustration of thymus in white on a green background
New Mechanism for Virus-Triggered Autoimmunity Uncovered
Sophie Fessl | Mar 11, 2022
Roseolovirus infection disrupts how the body trains immune cells not to attack it, a mouse study shows.
artist's depiction of white, beige, and brown fat cells
Heat May Melt Away White Fat
Sophie Fessl | Mar 4, 2022
Local heat therapy induces browning of adipose tissue in mice and humans, a study finds, suggesting it could help treat obesity—though some experts have reservations.