1. Bonnie Tsui
• Spotting the common denominator in Bonnie Tsui’s life is simple: It’s water. Her parents met at a pool in Hong Kong, she was a competitive swimmer as a teenager, and now she hits the waves in the San Francisco Bay Area with her surfboard. Being around the elemental substance calms her: “It makes you feel connected to something larger than yourself,” she says. Writing for Popular Science for the first time on page 60, Tsui explores how USA Surfing is embracing science and technology as it prepares for its eventual debut at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Tsui’s second book, Why We Swim, was published in April 2020.
2. Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
• After they met in 2006 at Ohio University, photography duo Jenn Ackerman’s and Tim Gruber’s personal and professional lives became intertwined. “We were either going to break up and never work together or work together and get married,” Ackerman says. “There was no in between.” The couple, who take turns behind the camera, tied the knot in 2009. One night in March, they joined ultramarathoner Meredith O’Neill to document her cold-weather workout. The result, on page 38, exemplifies the pair’s focus. “We’re just fascinated by real people and their stories,” Gruber says.
3. Andrew Zaleski
• After wrapping up an article about grown men who spend their weekends launching 6-foot model rockets, Andrew Zaleski had a question: What other offbeat things do middle-aged guys obsess over? That led him to the National Pinewood Derby Racing League. For a feature on page 52, he hung out with adult racers who, now that their kids have outgrown their Boy Scout uniforms, put wheels on wooden blocks for themselves and turned the game into a sport. He remembers dudes observing their cars on the track and discussing how cool they looked. “It was great—but that’s because I’m a nerd,” he says.
4. Julia Bernhard
• Influenced by the clean lines she saw in The Adventures of Tintin while growing up in Bavaria, Germany, artist Julia Bernhard was determined to use her drawings to tell stories about women as well as queer life. Her comicinspired scenes—filled with bodies of all shapes, colors, and sizes—first found an audience on Instagram. From there, they caught the attention of The New Yorker, which published one of her illustrations in 2018. “It was one of my first gigs,” she recalls; she still contributes. For this issue, she created images for the Tales from the Field section, including the bacon-loving pit bull on page 99.