In 1990, I began writing for the New York Times, covering genetics, evolutionary biology, medicine and other subjects. Just ten months later, I won a Pulitzer prize in the category of beat reporting, for a series of 10 feature articles on a wide array of scientific topics. Among them: the biology of scorpions, disputes over the Human Genome Project, the importance of parasites in evolution, and the ubiquitousness of philandering in the animal kingdom.
Over the years I have written features about polar bears, jaguars, tigers, cheetahs, lions, hyenas, crocodiles, turtles, pit vipers, why we curse, why we laugh, why we play, why I'm a crybaby, why I hate the beach, why women's shoes don't fit their feet, cuteness vs. beauty, empathy, altruism, anthropomorphism, laziness, the evolution of the family, childhood, menopause, pack behavior, baboons, bonobos, orangutans, lemurs, gorillas, mandrills, chimpanzees, cotton-top tamarins, dolphins, cichlids, dung beetles, yellow jackets, cockroaches, bee brains, African bee-eaters, toxic birds, toxic frogs, orchids, fungi, men's aches and pains, men's self-destructive behavior, men's effect on women's health, suicide, bad mothers, good enough mothers, my mother, my father and Timothy Leary, GI Joe dolls, the X chromosome, the Y chromosome, telomeres, the cell cycle, estrogen, testosterone, oxytocin, leptin, protein folding, free radicals, evolutionary convergence, interstellar space travel, autoimmune diseases, depression, manic-depression, happiness, love, biophilia, women in science, atheism and science, Gary Larson, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Tony Fauci, Harold Varmus, Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, Jackie Barton, Stephen Jay Gould... to name but a few.
My books include Natural Obsessions, an inside look at the high-throttle world of cancer research, which was named a notable book of the year by the New York Times and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; The Beauty Of The Beastly, a hymn to the multitudinous, mostly invertebrate creatures we'd rather forget, which also was cited as a New York Times notable book and it has been translated into nine languages; and Woman: An Intimate Geography, a celebration of the female body and biology. A National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller, Woman has sold some 200,000 copies in this country and has been translated into 21 languages.
It won a Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation; was nominated for the Samuel Johnson Award, Britain's largest nonfiction literary prize; was a finalist for the Booksense award by the Independent Bookseller's Association; and was named one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, People magazine, National Public Radio, the Bloomsbury Literary Review, amazon.com, the Village Voice, Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal and the New York Public Library. In 2002, I edited The Best American Science and Nature Writing, described by Kirkus Reviews as a "splendid" anthology of "bright insights and buoyant prose" and by Oprah's O magazine as "impassioned...biting...supremely lucid...Science class was nothing like this."
This spring Houghton Mifflin is publishing The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, my guide to the fundamental concepts of modern science that researchers in all the major scientific disciplines — physics, chemistry, biology, geology and astronomy—wish that everybody understood about their work. Richard Dawkins calls The Canon "an intoxicating cocktail of fine science writing," Nobel-prize winning physicist Leon Lederman deems it "essential reading," and Barbara Ehrenreich declares, "Finally, Nature has found a biographer who's up to the task."
My writing has also appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, The American Scholar, Wired, Parade, Washington Monthly, Reader's Digest, Natural History, Geo, Preservation, Metropolis, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Self, Orion, Family Circle, Ms., American Health, Slate, North Dakota Quarterly, Free Inquiry, Underwire, Oxygen and other print and on-line magazines. My essays have been published in a number of anthologies, including The Bitch in the House; Sisterhood is Forever (an updated version of the classic Sisterhood is Powerful); Women's Voices, Feminist Visions; The Source of the Spring: Mothers Through the Eyes of Women Writers; When Race Becomes Real: Black and White Writers Confront Their Personal Histories; The Nature of Nature; The New Science Journalists; The St. Martin's Guide to Writing; The Best American Science Writing (for the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005); and The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2000, 2003, 2005, 2006).
I have received numerous awards and honors, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) prize for excellence in science journalism; the Lewis Thomas award for distinguished writing in the life sciences, the Barnard College Distinguished Alumna award; membership in the American Philosophical Society; the General Motors International award for writing about cancer; the Lowell Thomas Gold Medal for travel writing; an honorary fellowship from the Society for Technical Communication; multiple publishers' awards from the New York Times; and the Freedom from Religion Foundation's "Emperor Has No Clothes" award. In the fall of 2007, I will begin a five-year term as the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University, a post previously filled by Oliver Sacks, the late Wendy Wasserstein, Toni Morrison, John Cleese, Jane Goodall, Eudora Welty, and other individuals described by the Cornell faculty as "distinguished contributors to cultural achievement."
I've been a reasonably serious weightlifter for most of my adult life and have a pale, ropy scar running down the middle finger of my left hand to show for it. I'm also a devoted if incorrigibly amateur student of Spanish, and though I doubt I'll ever be fluent, I love the language nonetheless. I live in Takoma Park, Maryland, with my husband, Rick Weiss, a science reporter for the Washington Post, and our daughter, Katherine Ida Weiss Angier, who was born in August of 1996. Katherine is an extremely funny and remarkably accomplished girl who doesn't yet realize how lucky she is to be able to sit down at the piano and play Bach, Beethoven, Scott Joplin, the blues. No matter. Someday she is sure to appreciate her nimble mastery of the keyboard, and in the meantime, I know how lucky I am to hear it.