Rachel Lense

Writer / Photographer

Hi, I'm Rachel. As it says above, I'm a writer and a photographer, but I just think of myself of as an eternally curious person. I'm driven to explore—to experience the world and its many inhabitants as authentically as possible. I'm eager to listen and learn, to document, to think deeply and create.

There's a special place in my heart for telling the stories of science, nature, technology, and health, and how they all intersect with culture. Much of my writing revolves around these themes. I've recently graduated with an M.A. in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Scroll on for a sample of my work or follow me on social media to see what I'm up to today.


Human Flourishing in Unprecedented Times

This is Part I in a series focused on human flourishing.

In the last few years, how many self-help books have you bought? Perhaps authors like Brené Brown or Bessel van der Kolk ring a bell. Or maybe you have had friends talk about “forest bathing” or “setting boundaries.” If any of this is familiar, you are not alone.

According to NPD Group, an international market research firm, the number of self-help titles on the U.S. market tripled between 2013 and 2019, and sales of books relating to ph

An Ultra-Rare Hybrid Solar Eclipse is Coming in April

Solar eclipses: they’re the fantastic phenomena of the firmament that have captured humanity’s imagination since time immemorial. Ancient Chaco people etched celebratory petroglyphs of the unearthly displays into dry desert stone. The Maya famously predicted their occurrences with advanced astronomical, calendrical, and mathematical systems. And on April 20, 2023, you can partake in this long line of human-sun experiences with one of the rarest types of solar eclipses: a hybrid solar eclipse.

Swimming in Doubt

A few years before this dive, I watched the movie Blackfish on Netflix. For the unacquainted, it’s a documentary that put Sea World’s abusive treatment of orcas in the searing spotlight (and caused major financial stress on the company as a result). But it also encouraged people to consider the cruelty of exploiting animals for entertainment’s sake. Things like swim-with-the-dolphins programs in Mexico, for instance, or porpoise petting stations at zoos.

In captivity, marine mammals like whales

How Legendary Creatures Transitioned from Sea to Sky

Ancient Babylon had Tiamat, the primordial creator who avenged her husband’s death in the form of a sea dragon. The Leviathan of the Bible cropped up repeatedly as a giant demon of the sea, eventually thwarted by God upon his triumphant return to Earth. And in Nordic sagas, Thor faced off against Jörmungandr, a serpent so large it encircled the Earth.

Similar tales continued in the West throughout the Middle Ages and into the Age of Exploration, where seamen’s yarns told of shivered sails and c

The Wisdom of the Online Crowd

The Wisdom of the Online Crowd

Late one Tuesday afternoon, a clear glass jar filled with a rainbow of jellybeans sparkles in the golden sun on a desk in front of me. The desk — and the jar — belong to Dr. Lucy Fortson, Associate Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota and cofounder of the Zooniverse, the largest citizen science platform in the world. Dr. Fortson is tall and willowy with cascades of long, honey blonde hair. She wears thin-rimmed glasses and an

Storming the Sun

Tonight seems like any other in early September. But as you ready for bed, you notice the flickering red of fire through your open window and any dream of sleep you had drains away. You stretch out your hands to feel for heat. Nothing. Cautiously, you take hold of the window frame and peer out, observing the same dancing light on everything below. You tilt your head back and your breath catches — ephemeral streaks of crimson and rose, brighter than the fullest moon, play across the sky, horizon