An old Russian proverb holds that nothing is more permanent than a temporary solution. As evidence, consider the paths by which Texas Monthly landed our new editor for business and innovation, Jason Heid, and our new senior writer based in Houston, Michael Hardy.

Jason, 43, joined us in early 2019 as a freelancer with an impressive résumé. Reared in the North Texas town of Denton, Jason earned a history degree from Trinity University in San Antonio. He returned home to write for a chain of community newspapers and within a few years was running one of them, as its sole journalist: writing stories, editing submissions, snapping photos, accepting classified ads—“everything,” Jason says, “except throwing the newspaper.”

He rose to leadership roles with other papers before joining D CEO, the business publication of D Magazine in Dallas. Within a year, Jason was promoted to run D’s website. From there, he took another step up as editor in chief of Austin Monthly. But he soon longed to do less budgeting and more writing and editing—which is when we pounced on him.

After seven months of freelancing for TM, Jason agreed to join our staff, where he ranks as one of our most versatile writers and editors, producing stories on everything from business and entrepreneurship to science and medicine. He has authored an insightful inquiry into the poor customer service ratings earned by American Airlines and a deep dive into the struggles of luxury retailer Neiman Marcus. Jason has a special talent for tackling complex stories on topics such as gene therapies for fatal childhood diseases and for capturing their human drama. “What’s fascinating about medical research is that it’s about life and death,” he says. “I’ve had few assignments tougher than interviewing a mother who’s trying to finance a cure for her dying son, who’s sitting right next to her.”

For the past year, Jason has set aside his love of writing to serve as our “acting” editor of stories on business and innovation—a temporary solution that has greatly enhanced the quality of our coverage. During that time, we searched for an editor to replace him, but we decided he remained the best fit for the job. I’m pleased that we’ve managed to persuade him to strike “acting” from his title, on the condition that he gets to write on occasion—and that he doesn’t have to deal with budgets.

An example of Jason’s work can be found on page 81 of this issue, in a story he assigned to freelancer Will Bostwick about the novel use of okra—yes, okra—as an agent for cleaning microplastics out of water supplies. “I love that this research is taking place at Tarleton State University,” which has an enrollment of about 14,000, Jason says. “It goes to show that Texas scientists are doing amazing research not just at the biggest universities but all over the state.”

I’m delighted to share with you that another temporary solution has turned permanent with our hiring of Michael Hardy. Michael has worked often with Jason and shares his voracious curiosity—about agriculture, business, COVID-19, education, fine art, hurricanes, politics, sports, and Texas history. One of my favorite Michael stories was his feature last summer about a young woman known for decades only as Pecos Jane. She drowned at a West Texas motel in 1966 and went unidentified until recently, when a Houston-area firm deployed new technologies to test her DNA. “I was drawn to the science of the story and also to the remarkable small town that never forgot this young woman,” Michael says. “I found the motel employee who pulled her out of the pool fifty-five years earlier, and the man who helped bury her”—under a marker funded by the community.

Michael, now 38, served as a college intern for TM. After graduating from Rice University, he wrote for an English-language newspaper in Sri Lanka and later for Houstonia magazine. He began freelancing for TM in 2015 and is a frequent contributor to our website and print magazine, including in this month’s cover package. I hope you enjoy his work, and that of Jason Heid, and the rest of this issue of Texas Monthly.