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Maryn McKenna is an independent journalist and author who specializes in public health, global health and food policy. She is a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and the author of the 2017 bestseller Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats (National Geographic Books, Sept. 2017), named a Best Book of 2017 by Amazon, Science News, Smithsonian Magazine, Civil Eats, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Toronto Globe and Mail, as well as an Essential Science Read by Wired.. Her 2015 TED Talk, “What do we do when antibiotics don’t work any more?”, has been viewed more than 1.5 million times and translated into 33 languages.
She has reported from epidemics and disasters, and farms and food production sites, on most of the continents, including a field hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a Thai village erased by the Indian Ocean tsunami, a bird-testing unit on the front lines of West Nile virus, an Arctic graveyard of the victims of the 1918 flu, an AIDS treatment center in Yunnan, a polio-eradication team in India, breweries in France, a “Matrix for chickens” in the Netherlands, and Midwestern farms devastated by the 2015 epidemic of avian flu. She writes for The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, NPR, Newsweek, WIRED, Scientific American, Nature, The Guardian, and other magazines and sites. Her work has been anthologized in The Best Science Writing Online (2012), The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2014), and The Dirt: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Food and Farming (2016). She is the creator of the Tumblr Today in Ebolanoia, which has been cited in medical and biodefense literature for documenting public overreaction to disease threats.
She received the 2014 Leadership Award from the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics and the 2013 Byron H. Waksman Award for Excellence in the Public Communication of Life Sciences. Her piece for Modern Farmer on the beyond-organic farm White Oak Pastures received a first-place award from the Association of Food Journalists, and her essay for the Food and Environment Reporting Network, “Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future,” was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation Media Award and has been republished in Russian, Norwegian and French. She also shared the 2015 AH Boerma Award from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as one of the writers for National Geographic’s food-writing site The Plate, part of the magazine’s year-long Future of Food project.
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