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Jennifer Ouellette (born May 17, 1964) is a science writer based in Los Angeles, California. Her writings are aimed at mainstream audiences unfamiliar with complex scientific issues.

Jennifer Ouellette
Jennifer Ouellette in July, 2012
Jennifer Ouellette in July, 2012
Born (1964-05-17) May 17, 1964 (age 55)
Ashland, Wisconsin
OccupationWriter and editor
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationBA English, Seattle Pacific University, 1985
Sean M. Carroll (m. 2007)

Life and careerEdit

8th Freethought Alliance Conference in 2018

Ouellette is the former director of the Science & Entertainment Exchange, an initiative of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) designed to connect entertainment industry professionals with top scientists and engineers to help the creators of television shows, films, video games, and other productions incorporate science into their work:[1] "The National Academy is hoping to basically foster this current trend in television and get more interactions between science and Hollywood, in the hopes of changing the way science and scientists are portrayed. ... We want Hollywood to basically help us inspire people and to get them interested in science and in rationalism so that they then go on to read more and become more educated."[2]

She also served as Journalist in Residence at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in 2008[3] and worked in New Mexico with the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop as an instructor in 2009.[4]

From 1995 until 2004 she was a contributing editor of The Industrial Physicist magazine, published by the American Institute of Physics.[5] On the Meet the Skeptics! podcast Ouellette's husband, physicist Sean Carroll, said "She was an English major with no science background whatsoever...while working as a freelance journalist in New York City she was hired by the American Physical Society after they found out that it was easier to teach physics to people who knew how to write than to teach writing to people who knew physics."[6] She is currently a freelance writer contributing to a physics outreach dialogue with articles in a variety of publications such as Physics World,[7] Discover magazine,[8] New Scientist,[9] Physics Today,[10] The Wall Street Journal.[11] and Quanta Magazine[12]

Ouellette also participates in a variety of print and online interviews such as NPR's Science Friday, SETI radio with Seth Shostak, and panel discussions at The Amaz!ng Meeting,[13] Dragon Con,[14] Center for Inquiry, and the National Association of Science Writers.[15] She appeared on NOVA in 2008 and on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on February 11, 2011 discussing her book The Calculus Diaries and winning a coveted Golden Mouth Organ.[16] She also has a blog, "Cocktail Party Physics: Physics with a twist" where she and other female contributors chat about the latest science news. "You just tell entertaining stories and weave the science in and it’s a way of getting people familiar and interested in what is normally kind of a scary subject for them."[2]

September 2015, Ouellette announced a new role as Senior Science Editor for Gizmodo.[17]

On March 30, 2018 the American Humanist Association awarded Oullette the 2018 AHA Humanist of the Year award.[18] During her May 18, 2018 acceptance speech at the AHA's conference in Las Vegas, Oullette spoke of her brother's struggle with and death from cancer.[19] She spoke about doctors and medical professionals who "hide behind euphemisms and platitudes" that hinder end of life decision making, and about patients' need for frankness and honesty about their prognosis. She spoke about the suffering due to the limitations of the medical profession's current understanding of pain management and the need for research, and about her support for right-to-die legislation.

August 2018, Ouellette announced a new role as a contributor for Ars Technica.[17]


  • — (2005). Black Bodies and Quantum Cats: Tales from the Annals of Physics. New York, NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0143036036.
  • — (2006). The Physics of the Buffyverse. illustrated by Paul Dlugokencky. New York, NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 0143038621.
  • — (2010). The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0143117377.
  • — (2012). "Introduction". In Zivkovic, Bora (ed.). The Best Science Writing Online 2012. New York, NY: Scientific American; Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0374533342. OCLC 824733257.
  • — (2014). Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self. New York, NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0143121657.


  1. ^ "NAS Announces Initiative to Connect Entertainment Industry With Top Experts". The National Academies. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  2. ^ a b Richard, Saunders. "Jennifer Ouellette Interview". Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Jennifer Ouellette". UC Santa Barbara, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop". Archived from the original on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  5. ^ "Features Index". The Industrial Physicist. American Institute of Physics. Archived from the original on 2 February 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Meet Sean Carroll". Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  7. ^ Ouellette, Jennifer (January 2011). "The Scholar and the Caliph". Physics World: 21–24. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  8. ^ Ouellette, Jennifer (November 2010). "Big Game Theory". Discover: 58–62. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  9. ^ Ouellette, Jennifer (30 December 2007). "Mechanical mysteries of the yodel". New Scientist (2635). Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  10. ^ Ouellette, Jennifer (January 2008). "Femtosecond Lasers Prepare to Break Out of the Laboratory". Physics Today. 61 (1): 36. doi:10.1063/1.2835147. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  11. ^ Ouellette, Jennifer (July 23, 2010). "Going With the Flow". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Tensor Networks and Entanglement". Quanta Magazine. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  13. ^ "The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 Speakers". James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Dragon*Con Biography - Jennifer Ouellette". Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  15. ^ Sunshine, Wendy Lyons. "What's science got to do with it? Thinking outside the lab". The National Association of Science Writers. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  16. ^ "Jennifer Ouelette 2011.02.11 - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson". Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  17. ^ a b Ouellette, Jennifer. "Bidding a Fond Farewell". Cocktail Party Physics. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  18. ^ "AHA Announces the 2018 Humanist of the Year" (Press release). American Humanist Association. 2018-03-30. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  19. ^ Oullette, Jennifer (2018-10-23). "The Ending Needs Work: Humanists Can Lead on End-of-Life Decisions". The Humanist. Vol. 78 no. 6. Washington, DC: American Humanist Association. pp. 12–15. ISSN 0018-7399. Retrieved 2019-03-08.

External linksEdit