Angier, Natalie 1958–

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Angier, Natalie 1958–

(Natalie Marie Angier)


Born February 16, 1958, New York, NY; daughter of Keith and Adele Bernice Angier; married Richard Steven Weiss, July 27, 1991; children: Katherine Ida. Education: University of Michigan, 1974-76; Barnard College, 1978, B.A. Hobbies and other interests: Weightlifting.


Home—Takoma Park, MD. Office—New York Times Washington Bureau, 1627 I St. NW, Floor 7, Washington, DC 20006-4007. Agent—Anne Sibbald, Janklow & Nesbit, 445 Park Ave., New York, NY 10022-2606. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer, journalist. Discover magazine, New York City, staff writer, 1980-83; Savvy magazine, New York City, editor, 1983-84; Time magazine, New York City, staff writer, 1984-86; New York University, journalism educator, 1987-89; New York Times, New York City, reporter, 1990, currently Washington science correspondent. Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large, Cornell University, beginning 2007 (a five-year appointment).


National Association of Science Writers.


Lewis Thomas Prize, Rockefeller University, 1990; Pulitzer Prize for specialized reporting, 1991; journalism award, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1992; Distinguished Alumna Award, Barnard College, 1993; Maggie Award, Planned Parenthood Federation, 1999, for Woman: An Intimate Geography.


Natural Obsessions: The Search for the Oncogene, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1988, published as Natural Obsessions: Striving to Unlock the Deepest Secrets of the Cancer Cell, 1999.

The Beauty of the Beastly: New Views on the Nature of Life, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Woman: An Intimate Geography, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.

(Editor, with Tim Folger) The Best American Science and Nature Writing, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

Contributor to anthologies. Contributor to online and print periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, American Scholar, Wired, Parade, Washington Monthly, Reader's Digest, Natural History, Geo, Preservation, Metropolis, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Self, Orion, Family Circle, Ms, American Health, Slate, North Dakota Quarterly, Free Inquiry, Underwire, and Oxygen.


Natalie Angier is a science writer and journalist whose books explore various scientific topics, including molecular biology and female physiology. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1991. She is currently a science correspondent for the New York Times at their Washington, DC, bureau.

In her first book, Natural Obsessions: The Search for the Oncogene, Angier explores the world of cancer cell research. For the work, she spent several months as a resident journalist in Robert Weinberg's laboratory in the esteemed Whitehead Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Robert M. Cook-Degan, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, asserted that the book "describes the brutal intellectual darwinism that dominates the high-stakes world of molecular genetics research." He further noted: "Angier's text is largely composed of skillfully concatenated quotations from the researchers. This permits an accurate glimpse of life inside a modern molecular biology laboratory." However, Cook-Degan added that "Angier's account lacks a grasp of the underlying significance of the work and suffers from a limited perspective." Stephen S. Hall, in Hippocrates, though writing that the book has "an odd hybrid tone that falls somewhere between Cell and Seventeen," added that "one of the virtues of Natural Obsessions is that it clearly explains the science behind each step of the oncogene story."

In 1995, Angier published The Beauty of the Beastly: New Views on the Nature of Life, a collection of essays in which she expounds on her notions of all levels of life forms from roundworms to dolphins. Donna Seaman in Booklist asserted that Angier's frequent anthropomorphism is a "perspective that imbues her marvelous essays with a palpable delight in life's madcap ingenuity…. In every essay, Angier offers us something new to ponder." May Berenbaum, writing in BioScience, found Angier's writing to be "enormously entertaining…. She has a gift for finding the exact turn of phrase to convey a complex idea."

In Woman: An Intimate Geography, Angier investigates female biology from the ovum to the psyche, including personal details from her own life to elucidate various topics. Anne Magurran, reviewing the work for the Times Literary Supplement, found this to be a "timely contribution" that is written in a "breathless style that is sometimes engaging but more often infuriating." Magurran felt that "the main problem of the book is inconsistency: the author embraces speculation when it supports the superiority of women, but spurns it when it might engender prejudice." Polly Shulman in Discover found Angier's exposition on evolutionary psychology to be "particularly illuminating."

In her 2007 book, The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, "Angier agitates energetically for scientific literacy by highlighting key elements of scientific thinking," as Boston Globe writer Harvey Blume noted. A critic for Kirkus Reviews praised the book, noting that by "decrying smug scientific illiteracy, … Angier … deftly sets forth the universally accepted principles underlying basic science that everyone should understand." Intended initially as an introduction to the most important ideas in physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and astronomy, The Canon soon metamorphosed into a project demanding a great deal of research from Angier in order to fully understand the principles herself and not merely rehash others' understanding of them. The result, according to Publishers Weekly contributor Marcela Valdes, was an "overarching narrative that pulls facts and ideas together into a cohesive whole." Reviewing the same work in the New York Times Book Review, Steven Pinker observed that Angier "presents the fundamentals of science: numbers and probability, matter and energy, the origins and structure of living things, and the natural history of our planet, solar system, galaxy and universe." While applauding the effort, however, Pinker also complained of the author's "misapplication of the power of the verbal analogy in scientific exposition." Pinker went on to note that The Canon was "never dull or obscure, and despite the distracting wordplay, most of Angier's explanations are anything but superficial." Higher praise came from Mother Jones contributor Elizabeth Gettelman, who wrote: "Angier makes nerdiness fun but also points out that scientific literacy is serious business," and from Fortune critic Daniel Okrent, who termed The Canon a "fine new book."



BioScience, April, 1996, May Berenbaum, review of The Beauty of the Beastly: New Views on the Nature of Life, p. 297.

Booklist, June 1, 1997, Donna Seaman, review of The Beauty of the Beastly, p. 1710; January 1, 2000, review of Woman: An Intimate Geography, p. 815; December 1, 2002, Donna Seaman, "The Booklist Interview," p. 637.

Discover, May, 1999, Polly Shulman, review of Woman, p. 96.

Fortune, May 14, 2007, Daniel Okrent, "Popular Science," p. 130.

Hippocrates, January-February, 1989, Stephen S. Hall, review of Natural Obsessions: The Search for the Oncogene, p. 82.

Journal of the American Medical Association, February 3, 1989, Robert M. Cook-Degan, review of Natural Obsessions, p. 772.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2007, The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, p. 201.

Library Journal, February 15, 2000, review of Woman, p. 218; March 1, 2007, Gregg Sapp, "Q & A: Natalie Angier," p. 102.

Mother Jones, May 1, 2007, Elizabeth Gettelman, "The Canon," p. 81.

Ms., February-March, 2000, Marilyn Milloy, "Natalie Angier: Turning the Tables on ‘Science,’" p. 48.

National Catholic Reporter, February 9, 2001, Eugene Kennedy, "What She Dislikes about Faith Is Not What It Is," p. 19.

Newsweek, April 12, 1999, review of Woman, p. 69.

New York Times Book Review, July 10, 1988, review of Natural Obsessions, p. 7; May 27, 2007, Steven Pinker, "The Known World," review of The Canon.

Publishers Weekly, March 5, 2007, Marcela Valdes, "Angier Dives in Again," p. 31.

St. Paul Legal Ledger, June 18, 2007, review of The Canon.

Smithsonian, November, 1988, review of Natural Obsessions, p. 226.

Times Literary Supplement, March 19, 1999, Anne Magurran, review of Woman, p. 10.

Washingtonian, January, 2000, Courtney Rubin, "What Makes a Woman?," p. 50.


Boston Globe Online, (May 13, 2007), Harvey Blume, "Q & A with Natalie Angier."

Natalie Angier Home Page, (August 16, 2007).