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NPR Interns
Summer 2002
Washington, DC


Helen Fields

Read Antibacterial Soap: Does It Do More Harm Than Good?

It seems like antibacterial soap has appeared everywhere in the last ten years. It's hard to even buy hand soap that's not antibacterial. Most of the soaps use a chemical called triclosan to do the bacteria-killing. It's lethal to bacteria in the lab but antibacterial soaps might not keep you from getting sick - and they might even be doing more harm than good.
Helen Fields has just finished a master's degree in ecology at Stanford University, where she did a research project on the behavioral ecology of harvester ants. It started out as a PhD, but after about a year of work she realized that, adorable as her ants were, she didn't want to continue in academic research. She began taking journalism classes last year and rediscovered her love of words. Helen is interning at the science desk this summer as she embarks on her new career in science journalism.

Helen grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she attended Montgomery Blair High School and developed her disgust with TV and love of science. She spent four lovely, if cold, years at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where she majored in biology. During that time she was a DJ on the campus radio station and started singing in choirs.

After college she lived in Norway for a year, doing marine biology research on a Fulbright grant. She then moved to Japan, where she studied Japanese on a Live Abroad With Your Parents grant, then stayed a second year on her own personal Teach English and Hang Out program. She continued to sing through the years in Norway and Japan. In Japan she sang Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in a 300-person choir where she was the only foreigner two years in a row. And of course, there was the endless karaoke.

After three years in Norway and Japan, she figures she just has to learn Icelandic and she can be at home on any whaling ship on the world.

Helen says she loves learning and telling people about science, and she's having a great time following the smart people at the NPR science desk and soaking up their knowledge. This fall, she will begin the graduate program in science writing at the University of California-Santa Cruz, and she will be looking for a real job in the summer of 2003.