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Friend, Tim

Friend, Tim


Born in Springfield, MO. Education: Studied at University of Missouri.


Home—Alexandria, VA. Office—USA Today, 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108-0605.


Journalist and science writer. USA Today, McLean, VA, senior science writer. Explorers Club fellow; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute science writing fellow; worked variously as a surgical scrub, a police officer, and a newspaper editor and reporter.


Animal Talk: Breaking the Codes of Animal Language, Free Press (New York, NY), 2004.

The Third Domain: The Untold Story of Archaea and the Future of Biotechnology, Joseph Henry Press (Washington, DC), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Centralia Fireside Guard and USA Today.


Tim Friend is an American journalist and science writer. Friend was born in Springfield, Missouri, and studied at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He worked various jobs throughout his life, including as a surgical scrub, a police officer, and a newspaper editor and reporter for one of the country's smallest weekly newspapers. Friend began freelancing as a science writer in 1985 and eventually became the senior science writer with USA Today. For this job, he has written on stories ranging from Mt. Everest base camps to the Titanic, and the Arctic Circle to Antarctica. Friend is also an Explorers Club fellow and a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute science writing fellow. He contributes to periodicals, including the Centralia Fireside Guard and USA Today.

When asked in an interview published in the American Scientist about what single book has had the largest impact on his writing, Friend replied that it was Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, citing that "the book redefined the most basic notions of life on earth and provided us with a new way to view our own relationship with all the other living things. Darwin's ideas have stood the test of time."

Friend published his first book, Animal Talk: Breaking the Codes of Animal Language, in 2004. The book shows Friend's reasoning through deciphering the speech patterns of animals, arguing that animals are capable of human-like communication patterns and can communicate between species.

A contributor to the Midwest Book Review noted that the book highlights "all the potentials of animal communication methods." A contributor to Publishers Weekly remarked that Friend "has written a delightful, entertaining, and instructive book for the general public on animal communication." Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor described the book as "a successful mix of the personal and the scientific for interested science students." Catherine Jeanjean, reviewing the book in Library Journal, commented that "his humorous and engaging prose style makes this a captivating read, suitable for both public and academic libraries," adding that it is "more readable" than other similar studies.

Christine C. Menefee, writing in School Library Journal, found that "the pages containing unexpurgated information about randy dolphin behavior, same-sex relationships in many species, wild elephant parties, and human pheromones will appeal to" a teenage audience. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews opined that Friend has produced "an amiable, anecdotally rich tour of communication as witnessed throughout the animal kingdom, fresh with the latest ideas behind how and why we all send signals," adding that it is "a very credible overview." Clive D.L. Wynne, reviewing the book in the American Scientist, remarked that "although it may be true that journalists typically do a better job than academics of keeping a narrative moving, they are at the mercy of the scientists they call on to explain research findings for them. But Friend seems to have chosen his guides well and is seldom tripped up in explaining the meanings of animal exclamations."

In 2007, Friend published The Third Domain: The Untold Story of Archaea and the Future of Biotechnology. The book introduces readers to the archaea, a microorganism that was discovered to live in extreme environments and holds promising benefits in the field of biotechnology. Friend claims that the archaea belong to a third, distinct domain, separate from those of eukaryotes and bacteria.

Teresa U. Berry, writing in Library Journal, claimed that Friend relates a "fascinating tale." Berry concluded that "Friend's book provides less detail about the biology of archaea" than other books, but it "will inspire budding microbiologists." A contributor reviewing the book in Discover said that The Third Domain "is as interesting as the creatures themselves."



Booklist, November 15, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of Animal Talk: Breaking the Codes of Animal Language, p. 556.

Discover, August, 2007, review of The Third Domain: The Untold Story of Archaea and the Future of Biotechnology, p. 69.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2003, review of Animal Talk, p. 1298.

Library Journal, November 1, 2003, Catherine Jeanjean, review of Animal Talk, p. 118; June 15, 2007, Teresa U. Berry, review of The Third Domain, p. 92.

Midwest Book Review, June, 2005, review of Animal Talk.

Nature, July 26, 2007, Sean Nee, review of The Third Domain, p. 413.

New Scientist, September 1, 2007, Lynn Margulis, review of The Third Domain, p. 50.

Publishers Weekly, October 20, 2003, review of Animal Talk, p. 42.

School Library Journal, July, 2004, Christine C. Menefee, review of Animal Talk, p. 133.

Science News, January 31, 2004, review of Animal Talk, p. 79.

USA Today, January 13, 2004, "Nuts? Author ‘Talks’ to Squirrels."

Washingtonian, January, 2004, William O'Sullivan, "When Fish Growl," p. 31.


American Scientist, (March 1, 2004), Clive D.L. Wynne, review of Animal Talk; (March 28, 2008), "Scientists' Nightstand: Tom Friend," author interview.

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