Mara Hvistendahl is a writer, speaker, and commentator. She is the author of the forthcoming book The Scientist and The Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage, which will be published by Riverhead (Penguin Random House) in 2020. Her first book, Unnatural Selection, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Mara’s articles have been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Popular Science, Scientific American, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, and other publications. She has been a keynote speaker at conferences, testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and appeared on BBC, CBC, MSNBC, NPR, and other radio and television outlets.
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. She is the former China bureau chief for Science. Her work has been supported by New America, where she was a National Fellow, and by the Minnesota State Arts Board.
For eight years, Mara was based in Shanghai. While there she taught journalism at Fudan University, wrote the longform true crime story And The City Swallowed Them, and, thanks to paleobotanist Wang Jun, had a Paleozoic fossil named after her. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.