Molly Samuel | WABE 90.1 FM

Molly Samuel


Molly Samuel joined WABE as a reporter in November 2014. Before coming on board, she was a science producer and reporter at KQED in San Francisco, where she won awards for her reporting on hydropower and on crude oil.

Molly was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

She’s from Atlanta, has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

Ali Guillory / WABE

A new initiative by the Atlanta Audubon Society is trying to save birds by asking people to turn off their lights at night.

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Hundreds of millions – maybe even a billion -- birds die each year when they get confused by lights and crash into buildings, according to the Audubon Society.

Molly Samuel / WABE

In many Georgia counties, the drought is clearing up. The state recently relaxed water use restrictions in dozens of counties. But not in metro Atlanta, most of which remains in a "Level 2" drought response. In places that rely on Lake Lanier for water – that includes most of the metro area – the drought drags on.  

E.J. Keller / Wikimedia

Neuroscientist Gregory Berns has a closet full of brains in his lab at Emory University.

There are brains from a few species of dolphins. There are coyote brains and a Tasmanian devil brain, which Berns said is sort of the jewel of the collection -- it's the only one in North America, as far as he knows.

He pulls one in a plastic container down off the shelf. 

“This is the brain of a German shepherd who I knew, who was owned by a friend of mine.” He said it's a little sad working with that brain, since he knew the animal.

Courtesy of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management

The Georgia Senate honored Killer Mike on Friday morning. And the Atlanta rapper, businessman and political activist took the opportunity to speak not just about his involvement with Atlanta’s water infrastructure, which was the reason for the honor, but also about education, equity and opportunity in Georgia.

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Plant Scherer in operation at Juliette, Ga.
Gene Blythe / Associated Press

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week that would begin dismantling one of the Obama administration’s key climate change rules.  

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Danny Johnston / AP File

The poultry industry in Georgia is on alert after avian influenza hit a facility in Tennessee

“When there is a discovery of avian influenza anywhere in the United States, and especially in a neighboring state, it causes the poultry industry to go on higher alert and make sure that biosecurity practices are tightened,” Georgia Poultry Federation president Mike Giles said.

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David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia is loosening water use restrictions in more than 80 counties as the drought has eased, but not for most metro Atlanta counties.

The drought has improved in much of Georgia over the past couple months, but it's still affecting Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River.

So while the state is lifting outdoor water use rules in 86 counties, the restrictions are staying in place for 12 counties that rely on that water. They are Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin, Paulding and White counties.

A raised flower bed in Mattie Freeland Park, with the words 'We Are Better Together' painted on the side.
Molly Samuel / WABE

The Atlanta neighborhood of English Avenue doesn't have many parks, but there's one that a community got together and built themselves in honor of a local resident who was like a grandmother to her neighbors.

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Mattie Freeland was the kind of woman who always shared her food and checked in on people, say people who knew her. They called her "Miss Mattie." She passed away several years ago, but the park that’s grown next door to her house was sort of her idea.

Seth Perlman / Associated Press

President Donald Trump is directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to revisit a regulation on clean water.

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The Obama-era rule, known both as the Clean Water Rule and "Waters of the United States," was intended to clarify what bodies of water are protected by the Clean Water Act: Big rivers are, but what about creeks that feed into them, or streams that go dry part of the year, or wetlands? The rule would have protected those too.

Al Such / WABE

There's a drill digging a tunnel deep under Atlanta. It cuts through granite six nights a week, all night long, 300 to 400 feet below the ground. Eventually, it will connect Bellwood Quarry – recognizable, perhaps, from scenes in the Hunger Games, Walking Dead and Stranger Things – to the Chattahoochee River.

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Now, the bottom of the quarry, where the tunnel starts, is a construction site.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Some fish that live in one of Atlanta's creeks, a tributary to the Chattahoochee River, have elevated levels of chemicals in their bodies, including pesticides that went out of use in the 1980s.

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Proctor Creek, on Atlanta’s Westside, has had issues with e. coli and fecal coliform bacteria caused by sewer overflows, but a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents man-made toxic chemicals in fish caught at a fishing spot in Bankhead, near Maddox Park.

Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As Oklahoma Attorney General, he has opposed the agency in lawsuits, and Georgia has often sided with him.

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Molly Samuel / WABE

Experts on climate change and public health gathered at the Carter Center on Thursday for a conference put together to replace one with a similar agenda the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put on hold.

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Ali Guillory / WABE

Housing prices near the BeltLine are rising faster than in the rest of Atlanta, according to a new study.

That probably comes as little surprise to anyone familiar with the popular path and the businesses and homes that spring up around it. But now, Dan Immergluck, a professor at the School of City and Regional planning at Georgia Tech, has quantified it.

Alison Guillory / WABE

For Valentine’s Day, here's a story about a long separation, where – finally – the boy and the girl are united.

This is not a story about people. It's not even a story about animals.

This is a story about plants.

First, a very short botany review: Most plants are both male and female. Their flowers have both parts. But some kinds of plants aren't like that; there are males with male flowers, and females with female flowers.

Sea to Shore Alliance, taken under NOAA permit #14388-02

It has not been a good year so far for North Atlantic right whales. The endangered animals have their calves off the coast of Georgia, and officials have seen only three calves so far.

In good years, back in the 2000s, wildlife biologist Clay George says there were 22 to 24 calves in a season, but there's been a downward trend over the past five years.

Conceptual rendering by HDR, Inc. courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

The Atlanta neighborhood of Vine City, just west of the new Falcons stadium, is getting a new park.

It will have fountains, a playground and an open lawn. There will be statues honoring Civil Rights leaders with connections to the neighborhood, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Julian Bond. The park will also help address flooding issues that have plagued the area for years.

North Georgia drought, Georgia drought, Atlanta drought
Alison Guillory / WABE

A major metro Atlanta water supplier is suing the federal government, claiming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not allowing it water that the state of Georgia has allocated to it.

In this May 9, 2015 file photo, pipes for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline are stacked at a staging area in Worthing, S.D.
Nati Harnik / Associated Press file

Getting big controversial pipelines built, like the Dakota Access and Keystone XL, is one of President Donald Trump's priorities. But in Georgia there's a moratorium on building petroleum pipelines while state lawmakers review regulations.

Alison Guillory / WABE

One of the rarest salamanders in the country lives in Georgia – or, at least, it used to – a survey last year didn't turn any up in the wild. It's called the frosted flatwoods salamander, and there's a new project in Atlanta to breed the species in captivity.

The last time scientists documented one of these guys in Georgia was in 2015, near the coast. That's where they'd usually live, in longleaf pine forests.

Now, a bunch of flatwoods salamanders live in Buckhead.

Protesters stand outside of the South Domestic Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Sunday. The Atlanta airport protest was among several that occurred in airports across the country.
Alison Guillory / WABE

A few thousand people crowded outside the Atlanta airport Sunday to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration order. They packed onto the sidewalks and some of the lanes outside the airport’s south terminal with drums, megaphones and a lot of signs.

Clarence Alston’s sign was nearly wordless, but captured his general dismay about Trump’s presidency.

“My sign says, ‘Nah Bruh, NOPE.’ Because it captures what I can’t put into a more eloquent phrase,” he said.

Charity White came to Hartsfield-Jackson on Saturday, Jan. 28 to protest President Donald Trump's immigration order. ''I don’t believe in bans on people. I don’t think people are illegal.''
Molly Samuel / WABE

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, at least 11 people were detained on Saturday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. 

It led to a confusing and frustrating day, with families at the airport waiting to pick people up. Georgia Congressmen John Lewis and Hank Johnson later joined the families at Hartsfield-Jackson, and immigration attorneys were also on hand to intervene.

Todd Stone / Associated Press

President Donald Trump is pushing to get the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines permitted and built. Meanwhile, a controversial pipeline in Georgia is already moving forward.

The Sabal Trail Pipeline will carry natural gas from Alabama, through the southwest corner of Georgia, down to central Florida.

Environmental groups oppose it, saying it could threaten people’s health and access to clean water.  

A woman holds a child while walking through a farm that was damaged by a tornado, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Adel, Ga.
Branden Camp / Associated Press

Sixteen south Georgia counties are under a state disaster declaration after strong storms killed at least 15 people and wrecked neighborhoods over the weekend.

The storms came in three phases, each one stronger than the previous one, said Georgia Emergency Management Agency director Homer Bryson.

“The last one had a tornado that was on the ground for over an hour – massive tornado – that covered four counties,” Bryson said. “A lot of damage, a lot of devastation.”

Mike Gonzalez / Wikipedia

Tuesday is an important deadline for Florida and Georgia in the Water Wars. A representative of the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the states to meet by that date to try to reach an agreement on how to share water, instead of having the court decide for them.

Florida is suing Georgia, saying the state uses too much water from the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers for Atlanta and for south Georgia's farms. The special master, who is handling the case on behalf of the court, has told the states several times that they probably won't be happy with what he recommends.

Stuart Jeffries

There's a lot we still don't know about the sun. For instance, why does it get hotter as you move away from its center? A Georgia State professor is trying to answer that question, and he's traveled to the South Pole to do it.

It makes sense to study the sun from the bottom of the world, since it doesn’t set during the summer.

“We can get to see the sun 24 hours a day,” GSU physics and astronomy professor Stuart Jeffries said.

He’s down there now, working out of a lab that’s buried under the snow near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is likely to become the next U.S. attorney general. While there has been focus on his civil rights record, his stance on waterboarding and the idea of a Muslim registry, there’s another, more regional issue he’s been involved in. It’s an issue that affects all Atlantans: the water wars.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been fighting over the water in Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona for decades.  Alabama and Florida say Georgia – especially Atlanta – uses too much water from those reservoirs.

David Goldman / Associated Press

President Jimmy Carter says he plans to meet with President-elect Donald Trump to highlight the effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease.

Tess Yaney, a volunteer at the Botanical Garden, feeds frogs in the frogPOD.
Alison Guillory / WABE

A famous frog died at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in September.


2016 was Georgia's warmest year in 122 years of record keeping. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Georgia was the only state in the lower 48 to break its record last year. (Alaska also experienced its warmest year on record.)