Michaeleen Doucleff

Michaeleen Doucleff is a reporter for NPR's Science Desk. She reports for the radio and the Web for NPR's global health and development blog, Goats and Soda. Doucleff focuses on disease outbreaks, drug development, and trends in global health.

In 2014, Doucleff was part of the team that earned a George Foster Peabody award for its coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. For the series, Doucleff reported on how the epidemic ravaged maternal health and how the virus spreads through the air. In 2015, Doucleff and Senior Producer Jane Greenhalgh reported on the extreme prejudices faced by young women in Nepal when they're menstruating. Their story was the second most popular one on the NPR website in 2015 and contributed to the NPR series on 15-year-old girls around the world, which won two Gracie Awards.

As a science journalist, Doucleff has reported on a broad range of topics, from vaccination fears and the microbiome to beer biophysics and dog psychology.

Before coming to NPR in 2012, Doucleff was an editor at the journal Cell, where she wrote about the science behind pop culture. Doucleff has a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Berkeley, California, and a master's degree in viticulture and enology from the University of California, Davis.

There's no question about it: Breast-feeding is hard. And we aren't born knowing to do it.

As we reported a few weeks ago, women all around the world have problems when they first start breast-feeding. From midtown Manhattan to northern Namibia, they need help to learn how to do it.

In the the 1960s, a Stanford psychologist ran an experiment to study children's self-control.

It's called the marshmallow test. And it's super simple.

Kids ages 3 to 5 choose a treat — an Oreo cookie, a pretzel stick or a marshmallow. Then researchers give the child brief instructions: You can eat the treat now, but if you can wait for me to return, you'll get two treats.

The researchers leave the room. And the child just has to sit there staring at a marshmallow — and deciding whether to exert self-control or to dig in.

There's a big push in the U.S. from pediatricians to have mothers of newborns breast-feed exclusively for at least six months.

And many new moms want to. But only about 60 percent who start off breast-feeding keep it up for six months or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In many ways, parenting newborns seems instinctual.

We see a little baby, and we want to hold her. Snuggle and kiss her. Even just her smell seems magical.

Many of us think breast-feeding is similar.

"I had that idea before my first child was born," says Brooke Scelza, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Los Angeles, California. "I definitely thought, 'Oh, I'm going to figure that out. Like how hard can it be?' "

Eye-popping. That's the word that comes to mind when you hear how many viruses are likely hiding out around the world in animals.

"We expect there are hundreds of thousands of mammalian viruses out there," says Kevin Olival, a disease ecologist at EcoHealth Alliance, who led the study.

Really? Hundreds of thousands?

"Yes, it's likely," Olival says. "Any given mammal species is likely to have 20, 30 or even 100 viruses. When you add that up around the planet, you get a big number."