The Plate

Maryn McKenna

Photograph courtesy of Maryn McKenna

Maryn McKenna is a magazine and web journalist and author. She specializes in public health, global health, and food and food policy, which means she’s interested in strange new diseases, resurgent old diseases, foodborne illness, antibiotic use and resistance (in medicine and in agriculture), and, generally speaking, in how our decision-making about feeding and protecting ourselves never looks far enough ahead.

She has reported from epidemics and disasters, and farms and food production sites, on most of the continents, including a field hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a Thai village erased by the Indian Ocean tsunami, a CDC bird-testing unit on the front lines of West Nile virus, an Arctic graveyard of the victims of the 1918 flu, an AIDS treatment center in Yunnan, a “Matrix for chickens” in the Netherlands, and the Midwestern farms devastated by the 2015 outbreak of avian flu.

In addition to National Geographic, she writes for The New York Times Magazine, Wired, Scientific American, Slate, Modern Farmer, Nature, The Atlantic and The Guardian. She is the author of the award-winning books SUPERBUG and BEATING BACK THE DEVIL, and her next book, on antibiotics and agriculture, will be published by National Geographic Books/Penguin Random House in 2017.

Maryn is a TED speaker: Her 2015 talk, "What do we do when antibiotics don't work any more?", has been viewed more than 1.3 million times and translated into 31 languages. She is a Senior Fellow of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and a frequent radio and TV guest. She graduated from Georgetown University, has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and has done postgraduate work in public health and medical history at the University of Michigan and MIT.

Maryn's life goal to taste every cheese made in France.

More of her work is at, and she lives on Twitter at @marynmck.