Erika Hayasaki

Associate Professor of Literary Journalism
School of Humanities Phone: (213) 840-1385
Email: ehayasak@uci.edu

University of California, Irvine
403 Humanities Instructional Building
Mail Code: 2650
Irvine, CA 92697

picture of Erika  Hayasaki

Research
Interests
Literary journalism in the digital age, medical and science narratives, immersion journalism, youth, culture, crime, poverty, health, education, race, death.
   
URL Website for Erika Hayasaki
   
Academic
Distinctions
Society for Features Journalism Narrative Writing Award for "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die," The Big Roundtable. (2014)

University of California, Hellman Fellowship Award. (2013-2014)

University of California, Irvine Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research. (2013)

University of California Academic Senate’s Council on Research, Computing and Libraries (CORCL) Grant. (2010)

Finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for the reconstruction of Virginia Tech shootings inside a French classroom, Los Angeles Times. (2008)

American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors third place Excellence-in-Feature-Writing Contest award in narrative writing category for West magazine profile, Los Angeles Times, “The Daughter.” (2007)

American Society of Newspaper Editors, one of six recipients of Team Breaking News Award for coverage of a train crash in Glendale, Calif. (2006)

Los Angeles Times Best Writing award for stories about a new teacher, a boy's dangerous journey to school, and a cultural divide at a Latino high school, Los Angeles Times. (2004)

Finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for a three-part series about a first-year teacher, Los Angeles Times. (2004)

Asian American Journalists Association award. (1999)

Society of Professional Journalists & Chicago Headline Club award. (1999)

Northwest Journalists of Color award. (1996)

Seattle Times and Dow Jones Newspaper Fund award. (1995)
   
Research
Abstract
Erika Hayasaki is a journalist who writes about health, science, behavior, culture, crime, youth, education, race and death. She is a former New York-based national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, where she spent nine years covering breaking news and writing feature stories. She is the author of The Death Class: A True Story About Life (Simon & Schuster 2014). Her research, writing and teaching interests include medical narratives, telling feature stories off the news and digital longform journalism. In addition to the LA Times, Erika's stories and essays have appeared in Wired, Newsweek, The California Sunday Magazine, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Foreign Policy, Glamour and The Wall Street Journal, as well as in the burgeoning world of digital publications devoted to in-depth feature storytelling including Matter, The Big Roundtable, Narratively, Longreads, and Zocalo Public Square. She has worked as a Los Angeles editor for Narratively, and is the author of two Kindle Singles, Dead or Alive (2012), and Drowned by Corn (2014), both Amazon bestsellers.
   
Publications Selected Literary Journalism, Feature Articles & Essays

"Women vs. The Machine." Is AI Sexist? Foreign Policy magazine. January/February 2017 issue.

"The Investigator." Fingerprints. Eyewitness accounts. Bite marks. All suspect? The L.A. public defender’s office decided it needed a scientist. The California Sunday Magazine, December 2016 issue.

"Traces of Times Lost." How childhood memories shape us, even after we've forgotten them. The Atlantic, Nov. 29 2016.

"How Poverty Affects the Brain." New research reveals the connection between stress, poverty and brain development in children. Newsweek, Sept. 2, 2016 cover story.

"How a Self-Taught Hacker Escaped a Cult." Shyama Rose, 36, is one of the country's top cybersecurity specialists. She learned to hack because she had to—it was her only escape from abuse. Glamour, July 2016 issue.

"Teaching Prison Inmates About Their Own Brain Trauma Could Help Them Rehabilitate." A startling number of convicted criminals have a history of traumatic brain injury. Newsweek, July 18, 2016.

"In a Perpetual Present." The strange case of the woman who couldn't remember her past—and can't imagine her future. Wired magazine, April 2016 issue.

"A Criminal Mind." For 40 years, Joel Dreyer was a respected psychiatrist who oversaw a clinic for troubled children, belonged to an exclusive country club, and doted on his four daughters and nine grandchildren. Then, suddenly, he became a major drug dealer. Why? The California Sunday Magazine, October 2015 issue.

"This Doctor Knows Exactly How You Feel." A rare condition causes Joel Salinas to experience other people's emotions and sensations. Is mirror-touch synesthesia a superpower or a curse? Pacific Standard magazine, July/August issue.

"Sick and Poor in Los Angeles." The ravages of poverty go beyond lack of income. The poor suffer physically as well. Blueprint magazine, Fall 2016 issue.

"Police Racism: A Search for Answers." In Ferguson, Charleston, Baltimore and beyond, the nation confronts charges of police racism. One researcher is breaking new ground. Blueprint magazine (UCLA) Spring Issue

"Cancer Fighting Machine Gets First Human Trial." Newsweek, July 21, 2015. The growth of nanotechnology is revitalizing hope in radio wave cancer cure many thought to be bunk science.

"Living With Being Dead." This terrifying disorder turns people into zombies, into living, breathing ghosts; they believe they died, or never existed. And somewhere in their brains may be the key to human consciousness. Matter (April 28, 2015)

"Buried Alive in a Grain Silo." Grain-bin accidents have become a consequence of our massive corn consumption. Longreads.com (excerpted from the Kindle Single, "Drowned by Corn." (April 2015)

"Viola Davis' Personal Story." A young girl grows up hungry but goes on to become an award-winning actress. Glamour (March 11, 2015)

"The Debate Over an Autism Cure Turns Hostile." One activist's search for a cure is drawing a violent backlash. Newsweek (Feb. 18, 2015)

"Batgirl's Psychologist." By applying characters' fictional psyches to real-life problems, a cosplay enthusiast turned a passion for comic books into a mental-health career. The Atlantic (Jan. 17, 2015)

"Somersaulting Into America." As a Top Japanese Gymnast, My Dad’s Future Was Laid Out for Him. He Opted for Adventure in the U.S. Instead. Zocalo Public Square (Jan. 5, 2015). TIME (Jan. 10, 2015)

"Drowned by Corn." A gripping true story that centers on what happened to one courageous and flawed young man who survived a grain bin accident. It is a story about love, unbreakable friendship, and "king" corn. As international dependence on the highly subsidized crop for cattle feed, corn syrup and ethanol has surged—so have deaths by corn. Based on three years of reporting and interviews with the people involved and thousands of pages of court documents, transcripts, police reports, this is a narrative nonfiction tale about the people who sometimes lose their lives for this powerful commodity. Kindle Single (Dec. 1, 2014)

"Drowning in Corn." The story of one teenager's near-death experience inside the grain bin that killed his friends. (Excerpted from the Kindle Single, Drowned by Corn). The Atlantic (Dec. 8, 2014)

"The End of Eyewitness Testimonies." When memory meets the courts. Newsweek (Nov. 19, 2014)

"The First HIV/AIDS Generation Reaches Retirement Age." HIV patients are living longer, but are also aging faster than the rest of the population. Newsweek (Sept. 18, 2014)

"Want to Know When You'll Die? 'Big Data' Could Tell You." Everyone from police departments to insurance companies is scrambling to figure out how long you’ll live. Newsweek (July 24, 2014)

"Gray Matter Anatomy." A scarcity of brains for autopsies could be holding back neuroscience. Newsweek (May 2, 2014)

"Sweaty as Hell, and Staring Down Death." Said to mimic end-of-life experiences, an ancient Native American sweat lodge ceremony has drawn new devotees, all eager to understand what it feels like to die. Narratively (April 7, 2014)

"Life of a Police Officer: Medically and Psychologically Ruinous." The intensely challenging job of law enforcement is linked to many health issues. I met a former officer who tried to protect my high school friend and learned the effect her death had on him. The Atlantic (March 14, 2014)

"Why College Students Are Dying to Get Into 'Death Classes.'" Thousands of college courses on dying and mortality are being held nationwide—and teaching lessons about life. The Wall Street Journal (March 6, 2014)

"Tracking Those Who Can’t Keep Track of Themselves." On GPS trackers, autistic children and privacy. Newsweek. (March 5, 2014)

The meaning of life -- in a class on death." Norma Bowe's 'Death in Perspective' course went beyond violence, morbidity and grief, opening the door to insight on one thing that every person shares. Los Angeles Times, (Jan. 12, 2014)

"A Lesser-Known Dementia That Steals Personality." Frontotemporal dementia, unlike Alzheimer's, often hits people in the prime of their lives, and can make them act like a completely different person. The Atlantic (Jan. 9, 2014)

"How Many of Your Memories Are Fake?" Stories color our perceptions of the past — even when the past in question is our own. The Atlantic (Nov. 18, 2013)

“Death is Having a Moment.” Fueled by social networking, the growing “ death movement” is a reaction against the sanitization of death that has persisted in American culture. The Atlantic. (Oct. 25, 2013)

“The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die.” On a moonlit ride through L.A. with Mike, Vince, and Eddie, things go bad. The Big Roundtable. (August, 13, 2013)

“Dead or Alive.” What happens after we die? Does our consciousness vanish at the moment of death? Or does it continue in some form? Kindle Singles. (Feb. 1, 2012)

“March for Survival.” NYC Students Seek Kinship With Puerto Rico's Endangered Leatherbacks. Sierra magazine. (September/October 2009 issue)

“A Gay Muslim, tested by faith and family.” Aliyah Bacchus returns home to offer a choice: Accept her sexuality -- as she has -- or lose her forever. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (Dec. 17, 2008)

“A very dark Black Friday.” Jdimytai Damour died on the floor of a Long Island Wal-Mart, trampled by a mob thinking only of bargains and buying. Page A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (Dec. 6, 2008)

“The Koran, Punk and Lots of Questions.” this much Hiba Siddiqui knows: She is a Muslim teenager living in America. But what does that mean for her? Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (Nov. 19, 2008)

“Finding Life's Meaning in Death.” students visit the dead, the dying, and convicted murderers. Along the way, they learn to value what they have. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (Sept. 3, 2008)

“Bodega Fights for its Life.” Julio Pimentel is trying not to let his neighborhood shop become one of the many that have been forced to close. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (August 8, 2008)

"Love stories buried no longer." A history buff whose heart has been broken shares Valentines from a Victorian cemetery. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (Feb. 14, 2008)

"A scrapbook career in shreds." Kristina Contes was known in crafting circles for her avant-garde designs, celebrating Converse sneakers and her hairless terrier, Chloe. But with one mistake, her world turned on her. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (Jan. 12, 2008)

“Story of the Scarf Still Waits to Be Told.” stained with the blood of a journalist killed in Iraq, it bonds two women. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (Dec. 19, 2007)

" Sending Cancer a Signal." John Kanzius, sorely weakened by leukemia treatments, drew on his life's work as a radio engineer to come up with his own battle plan. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (Nov. 2, 2007)

“Now the Giant Awakes.” an L.A. gang member and a boy drawn to the streets find refuge in writing, Los Angeles Times. Page: A-1, Column One. (Oct. 10, 2007)

“A Mother Never Forgets.” as others talk of moving on, Carol Ashley visits the place where her Janice died. Page: A-1, Los Angeles Times. (Sept. 12, 2007)

“A Deadly Hush in Room 211.” bodies lay where only moments before the students were laughing about their French. Page: A-1, Los Angeles Times. (April 25, 2007)

"He died in vast isolation." To the world, Vincenzo Riccardi was the `Mummified Man,' found in front of his TV after 13 months. His life was the saddest poetry. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (March 31, 2007)

“The Daughter.” her father shot them all. She was the only one who lived. And she forgave him. Cover Story, West magazine, Los Angeles Times. (Oct. 29, 2006)

“A Painful Course to College.” as Betsy Perez realizes her dream of going away to school, her father wakes up to the reality of just how far away. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (August 18, 2006)

“A Time of Heartbreak and Humor.” childhood loosens its grip as a girl readies for a key role in a school play against a backdrop of the kind of humor and pain only a teen knows. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (August 12, 2006)

“15-Year-Old Gets to Be a Daughter.” her mom is in prison for life, so a Mother’s Day visit offers a rare treat. Page: B-1, California section, Los Angeles Times. (May 14, 2006)

“Young Love, Old Divisions,” an African-American boy and a Latina, both 14, are unwavering sweethearts at Jefferson High, where racial strife is a fact of life. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (May 13, 2006)

“It’s Like You’re Climbing Everest,” eleven boys thought they’d leave high school as they entered it – together – on graduation day. It wasn’t that simple. Page: A-1, Los Angeles Times. (Feb. 3, 2006)

“Required: School Prayer.” Micah Grant begins his day under a clock, its hands pointed at 6:41 a.m., his hands clasped in prayer. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (Dec. 14, 2004)

“A Writer Turns to Teaching,” beginning a new chapter in his life, a three-part series. Page A-1, Los Angeles Times. (Dec. 19, 20 & 21, 2004)

“Sketches of Life on the F-train.” artists find a priceless collection of subjects on New York's subways. Page A-1: Column One, Los Angeles Times. (July 4 2008)

“Evading Death and Taxes.” a couple holed up for months, refuses to pay the IRS or go to prison. They say it's a battle for freedom, and it could end in bloodshed. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times. (July 20, 2007)

“A Cultural Divide on Campus.” At Montebello High, as elsewhere in the state, Latinos split between the more Americanized and those more drawn to their immigrant roots. Page: A-1, Column One, Los Angeles Times (Dec. 03, 2004)
   
  Work Featured in Books
The Death Class: A True Story About Life, by Erika Hayasaki, Simon & Schuster. (January 2014)

America’s Best Newspaper Writing, a collection of American Society of Newspaper Editors prize-winning journalism. (2006)
“Tragedy on the Rails, Survival is a Matter of Chance,” Page, A-1, Los Angeles Times. (January 27, 2005)
   
  Work Featured on Literary Journalism & Feature Writing Web Sites

Longreads.com, curates the best long reads:

* "Traces of Times Lost." How childhood memories shape us, even after we've forgotten them. The Atlantic, Nov. 29, 2016.

* "In a Perpetual Present" The strange case of the woman who couldn't remember her past—and can't imagine her future. Wired magazine, April 2016 issue.

*"A Criminal Mind" * For 40 years, Joel Dreyer was a respected psychiatrist who oversaw a clinic for troubled children, belonged to an exclusive country club, and doted on his four daughters and nine grandchildren. Then, suddenly, he became a major drug dealer. Why? The California Sunday Magazine, October 2015 issue.

* "Buried Alive in a Grain Silo." Grain-bin accidents have become a consequence of our massive corn consumption. Longreads.com (excerpted from the Kindle Single, "Drowned by Corn." (April 2015)

* "Life of a Police Officer: Medically and Psychologically Ruinous" The Atlantic (March 2014)

Longform.org , curates the best longform journalism:

* "In a Perpetual Present" The strange case of the woman who couldn't remember her past—and can't imagine her future. Wired magazine, April 2016 issue. (Also featured on Longform's Best of Science writing 2016.

*"A Criminal Mind" For 40 years, Joel Dreyer was a respected psychiatrist who oversaw a clinic for troubled children, belonged to an exclusive country club, and doted on his four daughters and nine grandchildren. Then, suddenly, he became a major drug dealer. Why? The California Sunday Magazine, October 2015 issue.

* "This Doctor Knows Exactly How You Feel" A rare condition causes Joel Salinas to experience other people's emotions and sensations. Is mirror-touch synesthesia a superpower or a curse? Pacific Standard magazine, July/August issue.

* "How Many of Your Memories Are Fake?" The Atlantic Nov. 2013.

Byliner, an online archive of great nonfiction writers. Various stories published, reprinted, and linked, including:

* A Deadly Hush in Room 211 Los Angeles Times (April 2007)

Love Stories Buried No Longer Los Angeles Times (Feb. 2008)

Nieman Narrative Digest , a moderated archive of narrative journalism assembled by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University:

* “A Deadly Hush in Room 211, Los Angeles Times. (April 2007)

* West magazine, Los Angeles Times. (Oct. 2006)

*
"A Painful Course to College,” Los Angeles Times. (August 2006)

* “A Time of Heartbreak and Humor, Growing Up Is Fun Right?” Los Angeles Times. (August 2006)

News Gems, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists, a site highlighting the best in American journalism, run by Jon Marshall, a reporting and writing teacher at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

* “Young Love, Old Divisions,” Los Angeles Times. (May 2006)

*“Love Stories Buried No Longer,” Los Angeles Times. (Feb. 2008)

Gangrey.com , a daily roundup of narrative and feature writing journalism across the United States.

* “He Died in Vast Isolation, Los Angeles Times. (March 2007)
   
   
Link to this profile http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=5640
   
Last updated 01/18/2017