Jennifer Ouellette: It Takes a Phase Transition: Communicating Science and Changing Minds


Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics

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Jennifer Ouellette is currently Journalist in Residence
at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. (Jan-Feb 2018).
She is a nationally recognized science writer and the author of four popular science books: Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self (2014); The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse (2010); The Physics of the Buffyverse (2007); and Black Bodies and Quantum Cats: Tales from the Annals of Physics (2006), all published by Penguin. She also edited The Best Online Science Writing 2012 (Scientific American Books/FSG). She is currently working on a book about phase transitions and criticality.

She is former science editor of Gizmodo, a popular technology/science daily news blog that garners over 35 million page views per month. Her freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times Book Review, Discover, Slate, Salon, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, Alta, Nature, Physics Today, Physics World, and New Scientist, among other venues. Her 1997 article on concert hall acoustics for The Industrial Physicist magazine won a science writing award from the Acoustical Society of America. Ouellette maintains a blog called Cocktail Party Physics (hosted by Scientific American from 2011 to 2015) -- and has also written for Discovery News (2008-2012), NOVA’s Nature of Reality blog, and Nautilus’ Facts So Romantic blog. She is a regular contributor to Quanta, an editorially independent online publication of the Simons Foundation.

From October 2012 to June 2015, Ouellette served as a co-host for Virtually Speaking Science, a weekly conversation with a prominent scientist or science writer hosted by the Exploratorium in Second Life and aired as a podcast by Blog Talk Radio. She makes frequent public appearances, including stints on National Public Radio, and an appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in February 2011. As a bonus, she won one of the show’s coveted “Golden Harmonicas.” She was the founding director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange, a Los Angeles-based initiative of the National Academy of Sciences aimed at fostering creative collaborations between scientists and entertainment industry professionals in Hollywood. She holds a black belt in jujitsu, and lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, Caltech physicist Sean (M.) Carroll, and two cats.