Five Questions for Steffen Foss Hansen

Nanoparticles confer special properties — strength, lightness, chemical reactivity — that make them useful in everything from cosmetics to car maintenance. Yet much remains to be learned about how these materials affect humans, animals, and the environment. And for the most part, the public is in the dark.

Silencing Scientists: A Recent History

In this installment of the Undark Five, Gretchen Goldman, research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, discusses how President Trump’s clampdown on communication from federal agencies compares to actions taken during the Bush and Obama administrations.

Five Questions for Mitchell Valdés-Sosa

In this installment of the Undark Five, Mitchell Valdés-Sosa, director of the Cuban Neuroscience Center, discusses how academia and scientific research operate in communist Cuba, the country’s need for outside funding, and the possible challenges that will come with the arrival of the Trump Administration.

Five Questions for Todd Moss

In 2013, the Obama administration launched an ambitious, $7 billion project to expand and modernize electrical power in sub-Saharan Africa. Todd Moss, an economist and expert in U.S.-Africa relations, expects that support to continue — with some possible shifts in emphasis — under Donald Trump.

Five Questions for John Gunn

A robust industry has grown up around harvesting trees for generating electricity, but researchers continue to urge caution, noting that the presumed “carbon neutrality” of woody biomass is a complicated matter. John Gunn, a New Hampshire forest scientist, is among them. “We need to do the math,” he says.

Five Questions for Judith Edersheim

In this installment of the Undark Five, we asked Judith Edersheim, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and also a lawyer who specializes in forensic evaluations, what brain imaging can reveal about the “criminal brain,” and how this research ought to be used in the courtroom.

Five Questions for Amy Stewart

In this installment of the Undark Five, we asked Amy Stewart, the bestselling science author and this year’s editor of the “Best American Science Writing” book series, about what makes a story stand out, and about gender and diversity in science writing — and in society — a topic that she believes is crucial.

Five Questions for Harold Varmus

For this installment of the Undark Five, we asked Harold Varmus, an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to answer questions about the 2016 election, his experience as a political adviser, and the difficulties inherent in communicating how science works to both politicians and the public.

Five Questions for Marcia McNutt

Marcia McNutt, a geophysicist who has held positions as director of the United States Geological Survey and editor in chief of the journal Science, answers questions on the 2016 election, science literacy, peer review, and more. Last July, McNutt became the president of the National Academy of Sciences.

Five Questions for Steven Pinker

In the debut of the “Undark Five” — a new feature in which our editors put five questions to influential, provocative, sometimes controversial scientific thinkers — Harvard psychologist, linguist, and author Steven Pinker meditates on journalism, violence, and the contextual fluidity of language.