The Science of Sustainability

Melissae Fellet

Melissae Fellet

Melissae Fellet is a freelance science writer obsessed with electrons, atoms and molecules. Writing about chemistry, physics and technology, she hopes to reveal how the invisible building blocks of matter influence things like plastics, perfumed shampoos and the speedy computer chips we use everyday. She holds a BS in biochemistry and microbiology from the University of Florida and a PhD in chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis. She spends sunny days at her home in Santa Cruz either watching otters in the bay or tromping around the redwood forests.

rss feed Author's Website

Melissae Fellet's Latest Posts

Tracing the Origins of the Durian’s Stench

Tracing the Origins of the Durian’s Stench

Researchers in Germany have identified compounds in durian that might be responsible for its unique smell.

Continue Reading

Creative Use of a Cancer Mutation May Improve Nylon Production

Creative Use of a Cancer Mutation May Improve Nylon Production

Chemists want to reengineer metabolic proteins and pathways in microbes so they can convert sugar into commodity chemicals. Now a mutant protein found in cancer cells provides clues to help scientists improve a protein that could help microbes create a precursor to nylon. In science, as in so much of life, inspiration can come from unusual places.

Continue Reading

H2-Whoa: Computing With Water Instead of Electrons

H2-Whoa: Computing With Water Instead of Electrons

Superhydrophobic surfaces enable simple water-based data storage and logic.

Continue Reading

Starbucks' Food Waste Fuels Experimental Biorefinery

Starbucks' Food Waste Fuels Experimental Biorefinery

Most of our plastics come from petroleum-based chemicals. Now, thanks to engineered microbes, similar materials might be made using food waste from Starbucks.

Continue Reading

NASA's Roving Robotic Chemist Will Collect Clues For Life on Mars

NASA's Roving Robotic Chemist Will Collect Clues For Life on Mars

Scientists are looking for elements and molecules that signify life as we know it. But even if they don’t find those molecules, minerals contain important information about the Martian environment. That could help scientists determine if life could have survived on the planet.

Continue Reading

Prescription Drug Disposal: Who Should Foot the Bill?

Prescription Drug Disposal: Who Should Foot the Bill?

A new ordinance in Alameda County requires the pharmaceutical industry to pay for disposal of extra medicine. The regulation is part of a larger movement to shift responsibility for waste disposal from local governments to companies that make products like paint, medicine and batteries.

Continue Reading

Smelly Rocks: Researchers Reveal The Source of "Stinkspar" Stench

Smelly Rocks: Researchers Reveal The Source of "Stinkspar" Stench

The source of the stench in crushed “stinkspar” is a 200-year old mystery. Solving this puzzle took a mixture of old-fashioned chemical analysis and modern instruments.

Continue Reading

How Do Fireworks Work?

How Do Fireworks Work?

From colors to crackles, fireworks are all about chemistry.

Continue Reading

Shining a New Light on the Chemistry of Art Conservation

Shining a New Light on the Chemistry of Art Conservation

Conserving delicate artwork requires knowing what paints and techniques were used to create a piece. A new imaging technique helps restorers look at the pigments in frescos even while visitors are enjoying the works in a gallery.

Continue Reading

The Fungus Among Us Could Help Clean Oily Soil

The Fungus Among Us Could Help Clean Oily Soil

There’s more to fungi than just mushrooms. Buried in the soil live large fiber networks of fungi. And these fibrous microbes might be able to help clean up polluted soil.

Continue Reading

Try This at Home: The Chemistry of Fresh Cheese

Try This at Home: The Chemistry of Fresh Cheese

You can make cheese at home with some milk and a little bit of chemistry. Here's how.

Continue Reading

The (Dog's) Nose Knows: Sensor Mimics Canine Sniffing Cells For Smells

The (Dog's) Nose Knows: Sensor Mimics Canine Sniffing Cells For Smells

Dogs have an amazingly sensitive sense of smell that allows them to find lost people, illegal drugs and even floating whale poop. A new sensor uses the same principles to sniff out rotten food.

Continue Reading

Metal Materials, Cold Could Have Contributed to the Titanic’s Demise

Metal Materials, Cold Could Have Contributed to the Titanic’s Demise

One hundred years after the sinking of the Titanic, questions still abound about what really caused the ship to go down. Two theories say the physical properties of the ship’s metal hull or the composition of the iron rivets could have worsened the damage when the ship slammed into the iceberg.

Continue Reading

Coffee Flavor By the Numbers

Coffee Flavor By the Numbers

Technology helps home coffee drinkers analyze and automate their morning brew so that everyone can brew the same artisanal cup of coffee each day.

Continue Reading

Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee

The science of brewing coffee includes scales, thermometers and trained taste buds. And like any good experiment, it requires a bit of flair too.

Continue Reading

Try This at Home: Invisible Ink

Try This at Home: Invisible Ink

Many invisible ink recipes from the Revolutionary War and World War I used chemicals commonly found in labs. Write your own secret messages using ingredients in your house.

Continue Reading

Plant Proteins Power Solar Panel

Plant Proteins Power Solar Panel

Simplifying the production of bio-solar cells using many different plants could bring power to the developing world. It could be a whole new way to DIY solar.

Continue Reading