Articles by Kimbra Cutlip

Unlike seeds of other plants, orchid seeds (above, a seed packet) do not contain the nutrition they need to sprout. They get it from fungi.

Why the Conservation of Orchids Is No Simple Matter

Smithsonian's Sidedoor podcast visits with researchers working to understand the conditions these threatened plants need to grow

In the five generations since the treaty was signed and broken, the Sioux Nations have steadily lost reservation lands to white development.

In 1868, Two Nations Made a Treaty, the U.S. Broke It and Plains Indian Tribes are Still Seeking Justice

The American Indian Museum puts the 150-year-old Fort Laramie Treaty on view in its "Nation to Nation" exhibition

“We’ve been raising CO2 in this marsh for 30 years, but [elevated] CO2 comes with warming,” says Pat Megonigal, lead researcher of the new study in the Global Change Research Wetland at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC).

Age of Humans

For the World’s Wetlands, It May Be Sink or Swim. Here’s Why It Matters

One of the world’s most long-studied marshes has revealed a wealth of information, but it continues to perplex and intrigue the scientists who analyze it

A cheetah stalks past a herd of giraffes in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve.

Age of Humans

Humans Caused a Major Shift in Earth's Ecosystems 6,000 Years Ago

We upended a pattern held for 300 million years, and that may mean we are causing a new phase in global evolution

Activities are designed with 6 to 12-year olds in mind, and presented as open-ended questions focused on themes that rotate throughout the year.

Inspiring Invention the MacGyver Way

Visitors to the Smithsonian's new Spark!Lab are challenged to solve problems with ingenuity and a pile of off-the-shelf items

One series of photographs in particular is exciting for the unique perspective. It was taken from an angle no one had seen before. “In his camera lens you can see the back of Clarence Darrow, and you can see the face of William Jennings Bryan,” historian Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette says.

The Scopes Trial Redefined Science Journalism and Shaped It to What It Is Today

Ninety years ago a Tennessee man stood trial for teaching evolution, a Smithsonian archives collection offers a glimpse into the rich backstory

Lake Jökulsárlón shimmers with the reflection of a magnificent iceberg. This lake, located at the edge of Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest ice cap, formed slowly when part of the glacier began to recede in the 1920s. The glacier continues to calve (split), releasing more icebergs into the expanding lake.

A New Photo Exhibition Depicts Just How Dramatic Mother Earth Can Be

Iceland, the land of fire and ice, brings vivid focus to the raw power of a geophysically active Earth

Week of Making

Maker’s Week at the Zoo is Business as Usual

When the right product doesn't exist for a fish ultrasound or other procedure, scientists build it themselves

To discourage the harmful trade that is having a catastrophic effect on elephant populations, nearly one ton of illegal ivory was crushed Friday, June 19, 2015, in Times Square.

Where Do Important Ivory Artifacts Fit in the Race to Save Elephants from Poaching?

The fight against poaching and trafficking came to a head in Times Square last week with the destruction of a one-ton cache of illegal ivory

If a lobster’s home territory is written into its genetic code, it just may be possible to distinguish a legally captured lobster from one with a shady background—maybe even after it’s made it to the dinner plate.

To Make Lobster Fisheries More Sustainable, Scientists Attempt to Decode Crustacean DNA

As the battle escalates to combat illegal fishing, Smithsonian scientists offer up a possible genetic tool

This second hatchling is even more notable for the emergency efforts that the animal keepers took to keep it alive.

UPDATE: Second Critically Endangered Tortoise Hatches from a Cracked Egg

To get the critically endangered Madagascar spider tortoises to breed successfully took both tenacity and a whole lot of luck

The first pair of experimental nylon stockings made by Union Hosiery Company for Du Pont in 1937 resides in the Smithsonian collections.

How Nylon Stockings Changed the World

The quest to replace natural silk led to the very first fully synthetic fiber and revolutionized the products we depend on

The sperm, taken from a nine-year old panda named Hui Hui will be used to impregnate the Zoo’s 16-year-old female panda Mei Xiang (above).

To Transport Frozen Panda Semen From China, Zoo Officials Went All the Way

After consulting a "stud book," the Zoo brought a male panda's sperm back to D.C., setting an exciting precedent

A blue whale specimen, dating from 1936, from the Gulf of Mexico is part of a rare Smithsonian collection of whale fetuses.

New Research

Rare Collection of Whale Fetuses Reveals the Evolution of Cetacean Hearing

Smithsonian researchers offer up an unprecedented glimpse at the development of the “acoustic funnel,” an ear area found exclusively in whales

Though threatened by adverse conditions in the Chesapeake Bay, oysters are filter feeders and may provide a much-needed solution for better water quality.

Let Oysters Get Sick to Clean Up the Chesapeake

The delicious oyster you love to slurp might be the best bet for clearing away pollutants

Faced with the only high-cost options, Smithsonian researcher Whitman Miller began building his own portable, inexpensive monitoring stations.

Saving Money is Great, but Saving the Chesapeake Bay Will Be Even Better

Whitman Miller's “off the shelf” technology may answer complicated questions about rising CO2 and ocean acidification

Located on the Rhode River of the Chesapeake bay, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's new laboratory building emits 37 percent less CO2 and cuts energy costs by 42 percent.

A New Environmental Science Lab Now Walks the Walk, Cutting Its Overall Emissions by 37 Percent

With geothermal heating, on-site water reclamation and a host of other energy saving technologies, the Smithsonian's first LEED-Platinum building opens

The ecology of the meat-eaters like Allosaurus fragilis  were likely threatened by the decline of the plant-eating dinosaurs, making the "perfect storm" for a mass extinction

Why the Dinosaurs Could Have Had a Chance of Surviving the Asteroid Strike

A new study suggests it wasn't just the asteroid that killed the dinos, but that other factors weakened their ability to survive it