Keith Seinfeld

Health & Science Reporter/Assistant News Director

Keith Seinfeld has been KPLU’s Health & Science Reporter since 2001, and prior to that covered the Environment beat. He’s been a staff reporter at The Seattle Times and The News Tribune in Tacoma and a freelance writer-producer. His work has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Keith's stories prior to Nov. 2010 can be found at our old website archives. And, more stories are at his KPLU blog, Science and Wonder.

You can also check out his "Weather with Cliff Mass" weekly interviews.

Keith’s most memorable KPLU radio moment: “Watching brain surgery on a patient with Parkinson’s Disease. When the doctor pulled out a pretty hefty hand-held drill, I realized: It may be a hi-tech procedure, but you still have to put a hole in the skull, while the patient’s awake.”

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Weather with Cliff Mass
9:07 am
Fri October 12, 2012

The rain is here, but nothing like Columbus Day 1962

Before the storm was over 46 people had died, 317 were hospitalized, and 15 billion board feet of timber, enough to build 300,000 homes, had fallen.

Expect light, misty rain for much of today, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. And a much stronger front is approaching on Saturday night -- bringing heavy showers on Sunday.

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If it's legal ...
7:09 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Dueling messages call marijuana 'benign' and 'risky'

A glossy, full-page ad for marijuana products look like something you would see from a pharmaceutical company. Does it signal the future of advertising for marijuana ... if it's legal?
Justin Steyer KPLU

Even if you never smoke marijuana, Initiative-502 could make it much more a part of our society, like alcohol. In our series “If it’s legal: Five ways legal pot could affect your life,” we consider some ways things could change for all of us. Today, we look at what sort of advertising and public messages we might expect to see.

If you turn on the TV today, beer and wine are everywhere. A typical commercial for Corona Light, for example, features a guy whose life improves with girls, dancing, lively music, a great time – all thanks to a frosty beer.

This sort of commercial is what Denise Walker was imagining, when she started thinking about the possibility of marijuana advertising in the future.

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Weather with Cliff Mass
9:10 am
Fri October 5, 2012

Ditto? Seven more days of the same sunny skies forecasted

rutlo Flickr

Don't credit global warming. And don't call it karma. Sometimes, weather patterns just lock in place, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Today, the pattern is perfection. Sunny, clear skies, with temperatures in the upper 60s, occasionally breaking 70, says Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. And seven days in a row of that, stretching through next Thursday. It could change at the end of next week, but maybe not, he says.

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If it’s legal ...
11:45 am
Wed October 3, 2012

Marijuana Notes: Strange new state job … cannabis quality control

If the marijuana initiative passes, the state will be in the business of judging the quality of cannabis, much like the feds set guidelines for beef.

KPLU reporters are looking into Washington's marijuana legalization initiative (I-502) to produce a series of stories that will separate facts from rumors and to learn exactly what would change if it’s approved. And on this page, we’re sharing some of the interesting facts as we learn them along the way.

Oct. 3 – If it's legal, you'll need some standards for the "quality" of the cannabis sold in state-licensed stores. But how will that be determined? 

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Weather with Cliff Mass
8:43 am
Fri September 21, 2012

How Cliff Mass helps crime scene investigations

He seems like your ordinary scientist, but KPLU weather expert and University of Washington professor of Atmospheric Sciences Cliff Mass has been moonlighting. He can be found in courtrooms, as a favorite expert when the weather may determine guilt or innocence.

For the complete story, click the "listen" button above.

oceans and environment
10:30 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Inside that mysterious goo, oysters have a story

Pacific oysters in China are similar to the ones found on Washington beaches
©Guofan Zhang, photo by Tao Liu Nature

The oyster is more than a seafood favorite. It’s an ecological lynchpin in Puget Sound and on beaches around the world, so scientists are thankful the Pacific oyster is the latest creature to have its genetic code unveiled.

The shellfish has a lot going on inside.

“I'm just always totally amazed that what most people think of as a shell full of goo, when they open it up, has this very complex physiology, where they control reproductive process very similar to humans and mammals,” says Steven Roberts, a professor of fisheries at the University of Washington.

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health care
5:42 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Layoffs and cost-cutting coming to Group Health

Group Health Cooperative says it lost money in August and needs to cut costs.  That will include some layoffs this year. 

It’s not a calamity, says CEO Scott Armstrong, but the trend could lead Group Health to finish the year in the red if it doesn't make changes.

(For the complete story, click the "listen" button above.)  

obesity trends
6:22 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Watch out: Half of Washington residents could be obese

Washington state is not immune from America’s obesity epidemic. A new study looking at where the trends are headed on weight-gain shows half the population headed for obesity by the year 2030. 

Currently, 26.5% of Washington residents are already considered obese. That’s a step beyond overweight, using the standard measurement of body-mass-index (BMI). 

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Smoking laws
1:36 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Should hookah bars remain open despite Washington's indoor smoking ban?

In this 2005 file photo Cary Wilson (right) and Lyle Klyne smoke a hookah in Fire and Earth, a former Olympia hookah lounge, days prior to the smoking ban. The business continues to sell hookahs, smoking supplies and gifts.
John Froschauer AP

Washington banned indoor smoking nearly seven years ago, but one exception survives: hookah lounges.

Local health departments have struggled to shut them down. 

The lounges say they’re private clubs, not public venues, so the law doesn’t apply. They all charge some sort of membership fee, typically about $5.

That defense doesn’t sway health officials, like Frank DiBiase of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. His office inspected three hookah bars in Tacoma last year.

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Weather with Cliff Mass
9:13 am
Fri September 14, 2012

Why the water at Washington's beaches is so cold

Nevermind the predictable weather for this weekend (cloudy mornings, sunshine breaking through, temps in the 70's) -- KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass wants to talk about a strange phenomenon along the Washington coast.

The water temperatures on any of our coastal beaches -- along the Olympic coast, at Ocean Shores, Westport or Long Beach -- is typically in the 40s or low 50s, says Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington.

That's cold.

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Economy
12:11 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Poverty rate appears to be rising in Washington

The number of Americans living below the official federal poverty line stayed steady last year. That was a surprise to most experts, who predicted it would rise for the fourth year in a row. 

Still, poverty is near it’s highest rate since the modern welfare system began in the 1960s. And, the rate in Washington state appears to be rising.

Currently, about 850,000 people in Washington are officially poor. Poverty is defined by a certain income level – which was adopted back in 1959 and gets adjusted for inflation. Today, it’s about $23,000 for a family of four.

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money and health
7:06 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Gaining health insurance nationally, not in Washington

Young adults were given the right to join their parents plans back in 2007, so there was no sudden boost in 2011.
Tedeytan Flickr

Despite the difficult economy, more Americans have health insurance than a year ago, according to newly released census data. One reason: the new “Obamacare” law allows young adults, up to age 26, to stay on their parents’ insurance. Many others qualified for government programs in 2011, such as Medicaid and Medicare.

The pattern is different, though, in Washington state.

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Weather with Cliff Mass
9:07 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Will we break the 'dry' record? Cliff Mass says, Unlikely

Will the stretch of sunny days end soon? Cliff Mass predicts it will.
Jake Ellison KPLU

The record for consecutive days without rain at Seatac is 51 days, set in 1951. To break that record, we'd need to see no rain through Tuesday.

"I think we are probably going to get to 49, but I don't think we'll get to 50 or 51," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. "It's tragic. But we're going to be happy with the second longest streak of dry weather in Seattle history."

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Science
6:29 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Seattle team has big role in Human Genome 2.0

DNA molecule unwinding from inside the nucleus of a cell.
NHGRI

It's not officially called Human Genome 2.0. But, key scientists say the research results published Wednesday should re-kindle some of the promise of the Human Genome Project.

One of those key scientists is John Stamatoyannopoloulos of the University of Washington, along with his team of about 40 researchers.

"One of the important hopes here is that this will reinvigorate drug development that’s built around the genome," he says.

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food and nutrition
2:15 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Schools rush to reform lunches; more whole grains and veggies required

Trish Gossage serves up the new and federally approved lunch at Cascade Middle School in White Center.
Keith Seinfeld KPLU

The rush is on, to get healthier lunches into public school cafeterias. But administrators say you almost need an advanced degree to comply with the latest rules.

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