About the Author


Maryn McKenna’s newsroom nickname is Scary Disease Girl, and she earned it. She has reported from inside a field hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a village on Thailand’s west coast that was erased by the Indian Ocean tsunami, a CDC team investigating the anthrax-letter attacks on Capitol Hill, a graveyard within the Arctic Circle that held victims of the 1918 flu, a malaria hospital in Malawi, and a polio-eradication team in India. She helped uncover the first cases of Gulf War Syndrome and trigger the first Congressional hearings on the illness, and her stories on a small Midwestern town’s cancer clusters helped residents win a nuclear-harm lawsuit against the U.S. government.

She writes for SELF, More, Health and other national magazines. She is a blogger for Wired and a regular contributor to the Annals of Emergency Medicine. She has worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she was the only U.S. reporter assigned to full-time coverage of the CDC, the Boston Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Rockford Register-Star. She is also a former staff member at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s with highest honors from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Her first book, BEATING BACK THE DEVIL: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, was one of Amazon’s Top Science Books in 2004 and was also named an Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association.

She has won numerous journalism awards and held fellowships with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the East West Center, the Knight-Wallace Fellows of the University of Michigan, Harvard Medical School and the University of Maryland. She teaches science writing in the U.S. and Asia.

She lives in Minneapolis and Atlanta, and occasionally in Maine and France, and almost always has latex gloves and a face-mask somewhere close by.