Madeline K. Sofia

Madeline Sofia is an assistant producer on NPR's Science Desk, and specifically for Joe's Big Idea. The goal of Joe's Big Idea is to tell scientific stories that explore the minds and motivations of researchers, and highlight the scientific process. Joe's Big Idea is also involved in helping young scientists become better scientific communicators. These scientists are part of a world-wide group known as Friends of Joe's Big Idea, or FOJBIs. Madeline is in charge of connecting the FOJBI community and facilitating their growth as communicators. FOJBIs regularly volunteer at outreach events, hold science socials, and contribute to blogs.

Before working at NPR, Madeline received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Rochester Medical Center. She studied Vibrio cholera, a fascinating 4 billion-year-old, single-celled organism that's evolved to outsmart the human immune system — and cause cholera. If you're interested in working with us, check out the JBI Facebook page.

Snot otter. Lasagna lizard.

Pick your favorite nickname for the Eastern hellbender salamander.

If you're standing in the blazing sun struggling to read this on your cellphone, there may be some relief in sight.

And you'll have a moth to thank.

The reason you have to find shade to read your phone is the way the light reflects off the screen. The reflection reduces contrast, washing out images.

Whales are the largest animals on the planet, but they haven't always been giants. Fossil records show that ancient whales were much smaller than the currently living behemoths.

So when did whales get so big, and how?

A new study suggests it might be due to changes in climate that affected the food that some whales eat: krill and small fish. Instead of being spread throughout the ocean, lots of krill started being packed into a small area. Bigger whales were simply more efficient at eating the dense pockets of krill, and they beat out their smaller cousins.

Meet Beibeilong sinensis, the most recently identified dinosaur species.

The name means "baby dragon from China." The dinosaur had massive feathered wings and a birdlike skull. It probably looked most like a cassowary, flightless birds slightly smaller than an ostrich.

Don't be tricked by their appearance — fangblenny fish aren't just a cute face. They use special opioid-based venom to avoid being eaten.

The fish are 2 inches long and live in places such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef. When one is caught and swallowed up by a predator, the blenny literally bites its way out. The venom disorients the bigger fish, and the blenny escapes to freedom.

Men may soon be able to take their own sperm count — at home. With a smartphone. Yes, there's an app for that.

You may be asking yourself, why?

Low sperm count is a marker for male infertility, a condition that is actually a neglected health issue worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.