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M.R. O'Connor

M.R. O'Connor

"The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World"
NEW DATE!: TUESDAY, March 8, 7:30 PM!

M.R. O’Connor is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism who writes about the politics and ethics of science, technology and conservation. She is the author of two acclaimed books about the cutting edges of contemporary scientific research, with a third on the way. Her first book, Resurrection Science: Conservation, De-Extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things (St. Martin’s Press, 2015) and was one of Library Journal and Amazon’s Best Books of The Year. Her second book, Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World (St. Martin’s Press, 2019) is an exploration of navigation traditions, neuroscience and the diversity of human relationships to space, time and memory. Its writing was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan’s Program for the Public Understanding of Science, Technology & Economics. About the book, Kirkus Reviews writes that “O'Connor talked to just the right people in just the right places, and her narrative is a marvel of storytelling”; Nature explains that “[M.R. O’Connor] walks the labyrinth of the brain’s time-and-space-mapping hippocampus. And, on the road, she meets astrophysicists, anthropologists and traditional wayfinders — such as Bill Yidumduma Harney of Australia’s Wardaman culture, who steers by thousands of memorized stars”; and Science notes that “O’Connor’s coverage of the cognitive map theory… is deep and broad.” She is currently writing a book called Ignition (Bold Type Books) on fire ecology and prescribed burning, for which she became certified as a wildland firefighter.

Her work has appeared online in The Atavist, Slate, Foreign Policy, The New Yorker, Nautilus, UnDark and Harper’s. A pair of recent essays for The New Yorker include “A Day in the Life of a Tree” and “Dirt Road America,” a feature piece about Sam Correro, who has spent decades stitching together maps of continuous pathways of dirt roads across the United States. In 2008/2009, O’Connor served as a reporter for The Sunday Times, an English-language newspaper in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her investigative reporting on topics like disappearances in Sri Lanka’s civil war, global agriculture trade in Haiti, and American development enterprises in Afghanistan have been funded by institutions such as the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The Phillips Foundation and The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund. For a long time, she made her bread and butter as a stringer covering crime, courts and breaking news in New York City for publications such as The Wall Street Journal and New York Post, and covered the criminal justice beat for the online investigative site The New York World. She is. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her partner, the screenwriter Bryan Parker, and their two sons.

Sponsored by the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the Department of Psychology, the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology and Sociology, the ICCA School of Communication and the Honors Program. 


Published on March 09, 2022

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