The Atlantic Launches “Life Up Close,” A Multi-Year Series Featuring Science Writing from Around the World

Editorial series debuts with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education

Washington, D.C. (November 6, 2017)—The Atlantic is expanding the global footprint of its science writing today with a multi-year series to investigate life in all of its multitudes. The series, “Life Up Close,” created with support from Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education (HHMI), begins today at In the first piece for the project, “The Zombie Diseases of Climate Change," The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer travels to Greenland to report on the potentially dangerous microbes emerging from thawing Arctic permafrost.

The project is ambitious in both scope and geographic reach, and will explore how life is adapting to our changing planet. Journalists will travel the globe to examine these changes as they happen to microbes, plants, and animals in oceans, grasslands, forests, deserts, and the icy poles. The Atlantic will question where humans should look for life next: from the Martian subsurface, to Europa’s oceans, to the atmosphere of nearby stars and beyond. “Life Up Close” will feature at least twenty reported pieces continuing through 2018.

“The Atlantic has been around for 160 years, but that’s a mere pinpoint in history when it comes to questions of life and where it started, and where we’re going,” said Ross Andersen, The Atlantic’s senior editor who oversees science, tech, and health. “The questions that this project will set out to tackle are critical; and this support will allow us to cover new territory in new and more ambitious ways.”

“We continue to be surprised by how life works—its ability to operate in extremes and adapt to changing environments—and it piques our curiosity about what life might look like beyond our planet,” said HHMI Vice President of Science Education Sean B. Carroll. “We’re proud to join forces with The Atlantic to bring deep and thought-provoking science writing to broad audiences.”

This extensive project signals a new chapter in The Atlantic’s dedicated coverage of science, technology and health, helmed by Andersen. In 2015, launched its standalone Science section, and hired award-winning science writer Ed Yong. The Atlantic’s staff covering these topics includes Julie Beck, Paul Bisceglio, James Hamblin, Olga Khazan, Marina Koren, Alexis Madrigal, Robinson Meyer, Sarah Zhang, and dozens of contributors.

Working with Andersen, Michelle Nijhuis will lead The Atlantic’s editorial coverage for “Life Up Close.” She has written for National Geographic and The New Yorker, and is a longtime contributing editor at High Country News, a magazine known for its in-depth coverage of environmental issues. Her coverage of conservation issues and global change has appeared in many publications and won several national awards. She is also the co-editor of The Science Writers’ Handbook.

HHMI is a science philanthropy whose mission is to advance biomedical research and science education for the benefit of humanity. Headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, HHMI is the leading private nonprofit supporter of scientific research and science education in the United States.


About The Atlantic:
Founded in 1857 and today one of the fastest growing media platforms in the industry, The Atlantic has throughout its history championed the power of big ideas and continues to shape global debate across print, digital, events, and video platforms. With its award-winning digital presence and on cities around the world, The Atlantic is a multimedia forum on the most critical issues of our times—from politics, business, urban affairs, and the economy, to technology, arts, and culture. The Atlantic is celebrating its 160th anniversary this year. Bob Cohn is president of The Atlantic and Jeffrey Goldberg is editor in chief.

About the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Department of Science Education:
HHMI is the leading private nonprofit supporter of scientific research and science education in the United States. The Department of Science Education’s BioInteractive division produces free, high quality educational media for science educators and millions of students around the globe, its HHMI Tangled Bank Studios unit crafts powerful stories of scientific discovery for television and big screens, and its grants program aims to transform science education in universities and colleges. For more information, visit