Science GoH: Jennifer Ouellette

Writer for Scientific American and author of several books

Jennifer Ouellette is a recovering English major who stumbled into science writing as a struggling freelance writer in New York City and found it was the perfect career for her. She has been avidly exploring her inner geek ever since. Now based in Los Angeles, California, she is the author of three popular science books for the general public: The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse (August 31, 2010), The Physics of the Buffyverse (2007), and Black Bodies and Quantum Cats: Tales from the Annals of Physics (2006), all published by Penguin.

Jennifer's work has appeared in the Washington Post, Discover, Salon, Nature, Physics Today, Symmetry, Physics World, and New Scientist, among other venues. She maintains a personal science-and-culture blog at Scientific American called Cocktail Party Physics, featuring her avatar altar-ego/evil twin, Jen-Luc Piquant, and also blogs about physics and space science for Discovery News.

She has strong interests in the intersection of science and popular culture, communicating science, and in fostering the next generation of science writers. In November 2008, Jennifer became director of the Science & Entertainment Exchange, a Los Angeles-based initiative of the National Academy of Sciences aimed at fostering creative collaborations between scientists and entertainment industry professionals. From February through April 2008, she was Journalist in Residence at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In May 2009, she was an instructor at the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop.

Over the years, Jennifer has covered such varied topics as the acoustics of Mayan pyramids and New York City subways; the physics of bubbles; fractal patterns in the paintings of Jackson Pollock; the underlying science behind architectural arches; and the precarious pitfalls of pseudoscience. Her 1997 article on concert hall acoustics for The Industrial Physicist garnered an award in science writing from the Acoustical Society of America. She holds a black belt in jujitsu, and has been known to draw upon that expertise from time to time to demonstrate the fundamentals of Newtonian mechanics to the general public. Jennifer is married to Caltech physicist (and fellow author/blogger) Sean (M.) Carroll.