|“500 Lifetimes: Notes on Suicide in Bhutan”
Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2017
In the Kingdom of Bhutan, with its vaunted guiding policy of Gross National Happiness, suicide is dramatically on the rise. What explains this troubling trend in the pristine Himalayan paradise that often tops travelers’ bucket lists? This deeply reported essay examines the problem from a number of revealing perspectives.
|“Obesity: Can we stop the epidemic?”
Harvard Public Health, Spring 2017
Since the 1970s, the obesity rate has steadily climbed in the U.S.—an unprecedented epidemic that has never reversed course. As a result, U.S. life expectancy may be starting to decline. Do we need a social movement to turn things around?
|“The Happiness Metric: Bhutan’s experiment in turning principle into policy”
Tricycle, Fall 2014
In late 2012 I traveled to the Kingdom of Bhutan to take a close look at the country’s concept of Gross National Happiness, an alternative measure to gross domestic product. Here are my findings, as reported in the Fall 2014 issue of Tricycle. This story was selected for Best American Travel Writing 2015 (Houghton Mifflin). Read an accompanying Q&A about the reporting expedition: “Gross National Happiness: On the Ground in Bhutan”
|“Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll”
Special Report Harvard Public Health, Spring 2013
In the national debate over gun violence—a debate stoked by mass murders such as the December 2012 massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school—a glaring fact has been eclipsed: Far more people kill themselves with a firearm each year in the United States than are murdered with one. Why is this disturbing public health fact overlooked? Which conditions raise the risk of gun suicide? And what can be done to stop these highly preventable tragedies? This article was the winner of the 2014 Grand Gold Award for Best Article of the Year, Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
|“Why Your Food Isn’t Safe”
Good Housekeeping, October 2011
Each year in the United States, about 48 million people—1 in 6 Americans—get sick from something they ate. Contaminated food sends 128,000 victims to the hospital and kills 3,000 children and adults. This investigative article details serious lapses and failures in U.S. food safety policies and practices. Immediately after the article became public, two federal agencies responsible for different aspects of food safety announced positive changes recommended in the piece. The story received the 2012 Sigma Delta Chi/Society of Professional Journalists Public Service Award in Magazine Journalism and the 2012 Clarion Award for Feature Article.
|“18 Stethoscopes, 1 Heart Murmur and Many Missed Connections”
New York Times, February 28, 2011
Illustration at right by Grady McFerrin
After volunteering as a “patient” for second-year medical students learning to conduct cardiology exams, I wrote this essay exploring the essential—but perhaps unteachable—quality of compassion that should be required of all aspiring physicians.
|“Swirl, Sip, Spit: A connoisseur of India’s national drink makes a pilgrimage to Darjeeling for the ‘Champagne of teas’”
LA Times, October 16, 2005
My passion for fine tea brought me to the inner sanctum of Darjeeling, India’s professional tea trade—and the lessons were quietly bracing.