A brilliant young professor, shaped by personal challenges, prepares a groundbreaking plan to respond to contact from aliens. With sweeping research, our writer explores the first contact scenario as never before. The real life stakes could be higher than imagined.

If alien contact is made, most of us won’t know — at first. Governments would have an interest in locking down the information for as long as possible. As potential scenarios for encountering extraterrestrial life become further grounded in science, they can be anticipated with more specificity. If contact comes to pass, we will look to the people who have spent years envisioning the scenarios by applying expertise and imagination in equal parts. This piece draws from interviews and reporting while playing out a contact scenario set in 2032.

Around the year 2000, the 12-year-old boy walked with his…


Road Out of Winter, a novel by Alison Stine, set in a dystopian apocalyptic future, grapples with many complex issues that shape people’s lives and pose threats to our future, including climate change and poverty. Danger is omnipresent throughout the novel, and the protagonist Wil has to outrun imminent danger after infuriating a cult. As our current world feels out of balance due to the coronavirus pandemic and the visible presence of white supremacy, the actions of the character of Wil is a reminder that we need to continue our own paths until we reach safety.

Set in Appalachia, Stine…


The history of student protests, divestment, and climate strikes

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Last September, I heard constant remarks from my peers at The New School expressing their hope that our university would cancel classes in light of the impending New York City Climate Strike. The New School ended up sending an email to students saying that we would not be reprimanded for missing classes, as did many universities across the United States for their respective local climate strikes. But members of the academic community should not seek out approval from our institutions’ administrations to attend strikes and protests.

Universities should not cancel class for strikes and protests because these acts of civil…


Heart Puzzle, credit to MMIWG Inquiry

In June 2019, Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) wrapped up a ten-year long investigation, labeling the horrible treatment — rapes, murders, and disappearances — of Indigenous women a “genocide” (“Final Report” 2019). For this case study assignment, I will review two examples of art-related projects that have attempted to bring awareness to MMIWG and healing to Indigenous communities in Canada.

As part of the inquiry itself, Indigenous politicians and activists gathered artwork, ranging from songs to sculptures, from Indigenous peoples who have lost women due to colonial violence. One of these pieces of…


After being hospitalized in Mexico with an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder, my life, and my relationship with my dad, were on the mend.

Image by Marcelo Leal at Unsplash

I had just gotten back from visiting a dog shelter in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico when I noticed a red welt on my arm when I picked up my dog Lucky, a white Havanese, who insisted on trying to figure out why I smelled like other dogs.

“Dad, I think I’m getting another attack. There’s a red bump on my arm, and I feel like I’m burning.”

“Julia, you look fine. Just play with the dog,” my dad responded.

“I’m not concerned with how I look. I’m concerned that I’m going to die,” I say.

My dad and I were visiting…


Image courtesy Wikipedia

New York City Housing Authority federal monitor Bart M. Schwartz released his first report on the NYCHA and the conditions of its residential properties on July 22, 2019. One of the main concerns in the 267-page report was the prevalence of mold in NYCHA developments.

The position of federal monitor was created in agreement between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, NYCHA, and New York City, on Jan. 31, 2019 . Per the agreement, one of the duties of the federal monitor is to analyze and improve “environmental health and safety at NYCHA,” including issues related to mold.


Protestors occupied the lobby of Equitable Life Building until the police threatened to arrest them for “disrupting business.”

After multi-million dollar properties and commercial buildings were developed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Annette Gonzalez lost a “sense of community” when many family members and friends were priced out of the neighborhood where her family has lived since the 1940s.

Gonzalez is a member of New York Boricua Resistance, an organization that describes themselves as a group that mobilizes Puerto Ricans and their allies in New York City for decolonization and the liberation of Puerto Rico. On Oct. …


Handcuffs rest on top of fingerprints
Handcuffs rest on top of fingerprints

Apexart, a non-profit arts organization in Manhattan, hosted a panel “Digital Punishment and the Modern Mugshot” with activist Paolo Cirio and sociologist Sarah Lageson, on the subject of the digital publication of mugshots. Curator Elizabeth Breiner moderated this Sept. 7 panel, and the event was open to the public.

The digitalization of punishment has led to people’s mugshots being published on mugshot aggregator sites, including Mugshots.com. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and activists have tried to confront the release of mugshots through various legal and technical methods, but these aggregator sites still remain active.

Lageson explained that websites like Mugshots.com…


I’ve been chronically ill since I developed an autoimmune disorder when I was 18 years old. What I didn’t expect was how much my chronic illness would impact my mental health.

Here are ten articles (one by me!) which go into the connection between chronic illness and mental health.

  1. Prednisone: The Steroid That Can Make You Feel Crazy by Shawna De La Rosa

“All medicines come with side effects, some good, some bad. The corticosteroid prednisone is no exception. Prednisone has life-saving anti-inflammatory properties. But this miraculous drug is also known to have sinister side effects.”

2. Here’s How I…

Julia Métraux

Writer, student, and dog person. juliametraux@gmail.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store