Author Biography


Mary Bates

Mary Bates is a freelance science writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. Her work has been published by National Geographic News, New Scientist,, and other print and online publications.

Author Articles

Robotic Pets: A Senior’s Best Friend?

We are in the midst of a demographic phenomenon known as the graying of society. In more affluent countries, the population is aging. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to more than double by 2060.

Health Care Chatbots Are Here to Help

Say hello to Molly, Florence, and Ada—they’re just a few of the helpful, smart algorithm-powered chatbots taking their place in health care. Chatbots are computer programs designed to carry on a dialogue with people, assisting them via text messages, applications, or instant messaging. Essentially, instead

Natural Disasters and Public Health

After the immediate emergency of a natural disaster is over and the media attention wanes, communities must deal with the long process of recovering and rebuilding. Yet some of the greatest challenges that disaster victims face come not from the disaster itself but from long-term health problems stemming from the event.

Cover Story

Direct-To-Consumer Genetic Testing

Most genetic testing requires a doctor’s prescription. In April 2017, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave genetics company 23andMe the go-ahead to sell DNA tests assessing the user’s level of risk for ten health conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Controlling Seizures with Technology

Mike McKenna was tired of epilepsy controlling his life. For years, he tried different medications and therapies to no avail; his seizures, which occurred every three to six days, dictated what he could do and where he could live. Then, about ten years ago, he

Tackling an Epidemic

Recently, the opioid epidemic is dominating news headlines and inspiring greater calls for political action in the United States. While opioid addiction isn’t a new issue, its devastating consequences are now being felt across the country. New and emerging treatments for opioid addiction hope to offer solutions to this crisis.

From Brain to Body

Paralysis, whether caused by spinal cord injury, neurodegenerative disease, or other factors, poses a host of issues for patients. These include not just the inability to move parts of their bodies but potential problems with communication and bladder control as well. Fortunately, the last decade has seen promising technology advances to address these concerns.