Mara Hvistendahl is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine and a National Fellow at New America. She is the author of Unnatural Selection, a chronicle of the unexpected consequences of prenatal sex selection, which has resulted in a surplus of over 100 million men worldwide.  Unnatural Selection was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was named a best book of the year by The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Discover. 

A founding member of Deca, a cooperative of award-winning writers creating narrative journalism about the world, Mara sits on the advisory board of Round Earth Media, an organization that promotes international journalism by training young reporters around the world. Her articles and book reviews have been published in The Atlantic,  Harper’s, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Popular Science, Psychology Today, Scientific American, Slate, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She has testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and appeared on the BBC, CBC, MSNBC, NPR, and other radio and television outlets. 

For eight years, Mara was based in Shanghai, where she taught as a visiting journalism professor at Fudan University, wrote the longform true crime story And The City Swallowed Themand, thanks to paleobotanist Wang Jun, had a Paleozoic fossil named after her. She is currently writing a book on an unusual trade secrets theft case and what it says about the U.S.-China technological relationship, to be published by Riverhead. 


  • Watch an Ideacity talk on Unnatural Selection
  • Listen to an interview with NPR's Morning Edition
  • Listen to an interview with Canada's CBC
  • Visit Mara's page at Science
  • Read an excerpt from Unnatural Selection in Mother Jones


On the hunt for Aphlebia hvistendahliae.

On the hunt for Aphlebia hvistendahliae.