Natalie Angier

On this date in 1958, Natalie Angier, Pulitzer Prize-winning science columnist for The New York Times, was born in New York City to a Jewish mother and a father with a Christian Science background. She attended the University of Michigan for two years, then transferred to Barnard College, where she studied English, physics and astronomy and graduated with high honors.

At 22 she became a founding staff reporter for the science magazine Discover. Throughout the 1980s, Angier worked as a senior science writer for Time magazine, as an editor for the women’s business magazine Savvy and as a professor of journalism in a graduate program at New York University. She began writing for The New York Times in 1990 and won a Pulitzer after just ten months on the job for a series of science articles. She became a columnist in 2007 for the Times’ science section.

Her books include Natural Obsessions (1988), about the world of cancer research, The Beauty of the Beastly (1995) and Woman: An Intimate Geography (1999), a National Book Award finalist and best-seller. Woman won a Maggie Award from Planned Parenthood, was nominated for the Samuel Johnson Award (Britain’s largest nonfiction literary prize) and was named one of the best books of the year by the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, People magazine, National Public Radio,, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal and the New York Public Library.

In 2002 she edited The Best American Science and Nature Writing and in 2010 edited The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, publications and anthologies. She began serving a five-year term as the Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University in 2007, previously filled by Oliver Sacks, Toni Morrison, Jane Goodall and others who were “distinguished contributors to cultural achievement.”

Angier, a self-proclaimed “lonely atheist,” was a guest on Freethought Radio in 2006. In The New York Times Sunday Magazine (Jan. 14, 2001), Angiers outed herself as an atheist in the article “Confessions of a Lonely Atheist”: “I’m an Atheist. I don’t believe in God, Gods, Godlets or any sort of higher power beyond the universe itself, which seems quite high and powerful enough to me. I don’t believe in life after death, channeled chat rooms with the dead, reincarnation, telekinesis or any miracles but the miracle of life and consciousness, which again strike me as miracles in nearly obscene abundance.”

Angier received an Emperor Has No Clothes Award at the 2003 FFRF national convention. In 1991 she married Rick Weiss, a former science reporter for the Washington Post. They have a daughter, Katherine Weiss Angier, who graduated summa cum laude in 2018 from Princeton with a degree in biology.

Freedom From Religion Foundation