Born and raised in Massachusetts, I studied biology at Yale and then went on to get a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell. After grad school, I became a fellow with a program that takes disgruntled science graduate students and puts them in news outlets to try out being journalists. I was sent to The Oregonian, the Portland daily, and fell in love with news writing. The following winter, I started writing for The New York Times as a clerk in the science section until I left to become a contributor from afar here and afar there. In 2009, a longstanding fascination I’ve had with taxonomy - which everyone thinks is dull and fusty, but is actually a bizarre and ancient practice that reveals fundamental truths about what it is to be human - led to the publication of my book Naming Nature. I live in the paradise marked on maps as Bellingham, Washington with my husband, Merrill Peterson.