Writer Profiles

Writing profiles were compiled and composed by Katherine Tschida at Saint Louis University

Jonah Lehrer

About the Author

Jonah Lehrer (b.1981) is an American author and journalist primarily publishing on science related topics. Lehrer is specifically interested in neuroscience, psychology, and the relationship between science and the humanities. According to science writer Simon Ings, "Lehrer fancies himself – and not without reason – as a sort of one-man third culture, healing the rift between sciences and humanities by communicating and contrasting their values in a way that renders them comprehensible to partisans of either camp."

Lehrer has published in a wide variety of publications. He is currently a contributing editor for Wired magazine (see “The Frontal Cortex” blog) and writes the “Head Case” column for the Wall Street Journal. He also writes for The New Yorker and is a frequent guest on NPR’s RadioLab. Lehrer’s work can be found in Seed magazine and Scientific American Mind as well.

Jonah Lehrer has an undergraduate degree in neuroscience from Columbia University and studied 20th century literature and philosophy at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Books: Imagine (2012), How We Decide (2009), and Proust Was a Neuroscientist (2007).

Personal Website
Wikipedia Page


Wired Examples


Wall Street Journal Examples


Seed Examples

  • Thinking Meta (2/16/2009) [long example]  Subject: metacognition, neuroscience, rationality 
  • Getting Our Nitrogen Fix (3/4/2009) [short example]  Subject: nitrogen, biotechnology, populations


Scientific American Mind Examples

All examples from Scientific American Mind are interviews conducted by Jonah Lehrer. These must be accessed through SLU libraries system.


The New Yorker Examples

No short examples from the New Yorker. Also need to be accessed through SLU libraries system.
  • THE EUREKA HUNT (7/28/2008) [long example]  Subject: scientific discovery, brain function 
  • DON'T! (5/18/2009) [long exampl]  Subject: Bing Nursery School, delayed gratification, psychology Your Future in a Marshmallow (From Fate and Fortune episode of RadioLab 10/15/2010) http://www.radiolab.org/2010/oct/15/your-future-marshmallow/ Relates to the marshmallow eating experiment discussed above. 
  • GROUPTHINK (1/30/2012) [long example] Subject: brainstorming, positive feedback, psychology


RadioLab Examples


David Quammen

About the Author

David Quammen (b. 1948) is an American science, nature, and travel writer. His work tends to be focused on the natural sciences, commonly writing on topics related to biology, ecology, and geology. Often his writing fuses science and travel writing, discussing the science he discovers on his journeys to far off places like Australia, Africa, and the Galapagos Islands.

Quammen’s work has appeared in National Geographic, Outside, Harper’s, and the New York Times Book Review. His column, “Natural Acts,” ran in Outside magazine for fifteen years. Quammen’s recent work has largely been book publications rather than periodicals, although he is a frequent contributor to NPR’s RadioLab.

David Quammen is a graduate of Yale University and was a Rhodes scholar, concentrating on the work of William Faulkner.

Books: Natural Acts (1985), The Flight of the Iguana (1988), The Song of the Dodo (1996), Wild Thoughts from Wild Places (1998), The Boilerplate Rhino (2000), Monster of God (2003), and The Reluctant Mr. Darwin (2006).

Personal Website
Wikipedia Page


Harper’s Magazine Examples


The New York Times Articles

Most of his articles in NYT are in the book review section, with a couple in opinion.
  • A Bear's Necessities (1/18/2006) [short example] Subject: grizzly bears, endangered species, genetic diversity 
  • A Drink of Death (11/12/2006) [short examples]  Subject: Steven Johnson’s novel on cholera. This is a review of SBJ’s The Ghost Map, which discusses cholera. However, SBJ did mention a similar topic around this same time in NYT (see below). Might be interesting for students to see why Quammen critiques SBJ to keep in mind for their own writing.


Outside Examples

A lot of his pieces in Outside are more travel narratives that happen to deal with nature and aren’t really much about science (more about the journey). 


National Geographic Examples

Articles from National Geographic must also be accessed through SLU libraries system. 
  • RETURN TO ZOOTOPIA (11/2004) [long example]  Subject: Darwin, Galapagos Islands Very few National Geographic articles are available. Some are reviews of other books, but several articles are not available through databases (at request of the rights holder). 
  • In the Kingdom of Eternal Blue Heaven (Dec 2005/Jan 2006) [long example]  Subject: Mongolia, fish, ecology. Another example that is more about the journey than science. You have to get pretty far into the article before he starts talking about the science.


RadioLab Examples

  • Devil Tumors (From “Famous Tumor” episode 5/17/2010)  Subject: Tumors, the Tasmanian devil article above from Harper’s 
  • Taking the Plunge (From “Falling” episode 8/20/2010)  Subject: falling cats (how they survive a fall), gravity 
  • Gravitational Anarchy (11/29/2010) x Subject: revisiting the topic of falling cats from the “Taking the Plunge” episode. 
  • The Cell That Started a Pandemic (From “Patient Zero” episode 11/14/2011)  Subject: HIV/AIDS


Margaret Wertheim

About the Author

Margaret Wertheim (b. 1958) is an Australian science writer and author. She most often writes about topics related to physics and mathematics, although she has tackled all areas of science in her writing over the years. Wertheim considers it her mission to bring science writing to female audiences, choosing to publish in ladies’ magazines like Vogue and Elle in her native Australia. She also frequently writes and lectures on the role of science and society, particularly about science and religion. Wertheim’s current project is the Institute for Figuring, where she and sister Christine crochet coral reefs to educate about hyberbolic geometry and reef preservation.

Wertheim has been published in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, New Scientist, Omni, Wired, Australian Geographic, Vogue (Australia), Elle (Australia), and Glamour (Australia). She has also contributed to numerous documentaries about science and hosted a television show, “Faith and Reason,” on PBS. Wertheim has written less frequently in recent years, choosing to focus her efforts on lecturing and her work with the Institute for Figuring.

Margaret Wertheim has a B.S. in pure and applied physics and a B.A. in pure mathematics and computing.

Books: Pythagoras's Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender War (1997), The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet (2000), and Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything (2011).

Wikipedia Page
PBS Biography

The Institute for Figuring


New York Times Examples


Wired Example

  • The Pope's Astrophysicist (12/2002) [long example]  Subject: astronomers, cosmologists, Vatican Observatory Research Group, Jesuits


Australian Geographic Example

  • Crochet coral and maths (1/6/2011) [short example]  Subject: crochet corals, math. ** This article has a very pretty gallery of the crochet corals.

Omni Examples


LA Weekly Examples

  • Pharm Phresh (10/2/2002) [short example]  Subject: pharmaceutically modified foods, plant reproduction 
  • Buckyballs and Screaming Cells (4/3/2003) [long example]  Subject: sonic cells, yeast, physics, interspecies dialogue 
  • Space(F)light (12/4/2003) [long example]  Subject: space, quantum mechanics, light 
  • Gut Reactions (4/2/2006) [short example]  Subject: gut ecology, termites, alternative fuels


New Scientist Example

  • Other Theories of Physics (1/6/2012) [short example] (article originally on published in New Scientist) Subject: Jim Carter, alternative physics, National Philosophy Alliance


Carl Zimmer

About the Author

Carl Zimmer (b. 1966) is an American science writer and blogger. His work is often focused on biology, evolution, and parasites. He publishes prolifically and is a frequent lecturer at universities. Zimmer is also a regular guest on NPR’s RadioLab.

Zimmer’s worked has been featured in National Geographic, Time, Scientific American, Science, Popular Science, The New York Times, and Discover. He is currently a contributing editor at Discover, writing to a monthly column called “The Brain” and his blog, “The Loom.” Zimmer is also the host of a periodic podcast called “Meet the Scientist” for the American Society for Microbiology.

Carl Zimmer has an undergraduate degree in English from Yale University and is currently a lecturer on science writing at Yale.

Books: At The Water’s Edge (1999), Parasite Rex (2000), Evolution (2001), Soul Made Flesh (2004), Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins (2005), The Descendent of Man: The Concise Edition (2007), microcosm (2008), The Tangled Bank (2009), Brain Cuttings (2010), More Brain Cuttings (2011), A Planet of Viruses (2011), Science Ink (2011).

Personal Website
Wikipedia Page


Discover Examples

Discover’s website does not have a very effective search engine. I’m choosing to use a database to find the articles instead. Zimmer has an ongoing section called “The Brain,” focusing on what seem to be neuroscience topics. Most are relatively short, but there are a lot of them available. I’ve only selected a few here, but there are many others if you don’t like these selections.


Time Examples

The Time articles pose an interesting challenge. Through the databases, you can get the full text of the article, but no pictures. Through the Time website, you can often only get the pictures, but not the text because they require a subscription. So I’ve included links to both when necessary.


The New York Times Examples

Zimmer has articles of varying length from about 2001-2012 published in NYT. There are many other options available than the ones selected here.


RadioLab Examples

  • “In Defense of Cheats” (from “Parasites” episode 2/2/2006)  Subject: parasites (wasps, nematodes, flukes, etc), defense of them 
    • The Wisdom of Parasites (Discover 2/2/2006)  Short blog from Discover that further discusses the parasitic wasps mentioned in the RadioLab episode. 
  • “Random Rules” (from “Stochasticity” episode 6/15/2009)  Subject: protein creation in cells, e. coli, biology, ordering of chaos. 
  • “An Equation for Good” (from “The Good Show” episode 12/14/2010)  Subject: selflessness/altruism, why the family exists, evolution. Also see “Scientists Square Off on Evolutionary Value of Helping Relatives” (New York Times 8/30/2010). 
  • “Sleepless in South Sudan” (10/31/2011)  Subject: deadly diseases, cancer, evolution, parasites. More a reflection on his life as a science writer than about explaining science. 
  • “The Cell That Started a Pandemic” (from “Patient Zero” episode 11/14/2011)  Subject: HIV/AIDS