John Bohannon

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John Bohannon
2012-04-21 USA Trip 1574 - NECSS (New York) (7980184439).jpg
John Bohannon speaking at Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS) in 2012
Institutions Harvard University[citation needed]
Alma mater University of Oxford (DPhil)
Thesis The role of the wss operon in the adaptive evolution of experimental populations of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 (2002)
Doctoral advisor Paul Rainey[1]
Known for

John Bohannon is a biologist and science journalist based at Harvard University.


Bohannon completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Molecular biology of Pseudomonas fluorescens at the University of Oxford in 2002 supervised by Paul Rainey.[5] [6][1]


Bohannon writes for Science, Discover Magazine, and Wired Magazine, and frequently reports on the intersections of science and war. After embedding in southern Afghanistan in 2010, he was the first journalist to convince the US military to voluntarily release civilian casualty data.[7] He received a Reuters environmental journalism award in 2006 for his reporting on the water crisis in Gaza.[8] He was also involved in some controversy over an article he wrote critiquing the Lancet surveys of Iraq War casualties.

Gonzo Scientist[edit]

At Science Magazine, Bohannon also adopts the "Gonzo Scientist" persona,[9] where he "takes a look at the intersections among science, culture, and art -- and, in true gonzo style, doesn't shrink from making himself a part of the story. The stories include original art and accompanying multimedia features."[10] As the Gonzo Scientist, Bohannon's research on whether humans can tell the difference between pate and dog food led to Stephen Colbert eating cat food on the Colbert Report.[11]

Dance Your PhD[edit]

Bohannon created the Dance Your PhD competition,[12][4] in which scientists from all around the world interpret their doctoral dissertations in dance form. Slate Magazine ran a profile on Bohannon and the competition in 2011.[13] He performed with the Black Label Movement dance troupe at TEDx Brussels in November 2011, where he satirized Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal by modestly proposing that Powerpoint software be replaced by live dancers.[14] Bohannon then went on to perform with Black Label Movement[15] at TED 2012 in Long Beach.[16]

Who's Afraid of Peer Review?[edit]

In September 2013, he submitted a fake scientific article to a large number of fee-charging open-access publishers,[17] revealing that less than 40% were living up to their promise of rigorously peer-reviewing what is published.[18] This approach was criticized by some commentators, who complained that his sting only targeted one type of open-access journal and no subscription-based journals, damaging the reputation of the open access movement.[19][20][21][22]

External Links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bohannon, John (2002). The role of the WSS operon in the adaptive evolution of experimental populations of Pseudomonas Fluorescens SBW25 (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. 
  2. ^ Bohannon, J. (2006). "EPIDEMIOLOGY: Iraqi Death Estimates Called Too High; Methods Faulted". Science 314 (5798): 396–7. doi:10.1126/science.314.5798.396. PMID 17053114. 
  3. ^ Burnham, G.; Roberts;, L.; Bohannon, J. (2006). "A Debate over Iraqi Death Estimates". Science 314 (5803): 1241b. doi:10.1126/science.314.5803.1241b. 
  4. ^ a b Dance Your PhD
  5. ^ Spiers, A. J.; Bohannon, J; Gehrig, S. M.; Rainey, P. B. (2003). "Biofilm formation at the air-liquid interface by the Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 wrinkly spreader requires an acetylated form of cellulose". Molecular microbiology 50 (1): 15–27. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2958.2003.03670.x. PMID 14507360. 
  6. ^ Spiers, A. J.; Kahn, S. G.; Bohannon, J; Travisano, M; Rainey, P. B. (2002). "Adaptive divergence in experimental populations of Pseudomonas fluorescens. I. Genetic and phenotypic bases of wrinkly spreader fitness". Genetics 161 (1): 33–46. PMC 1462107. PMID 12019221. 
  7. ^ "Afghan Civilian Casualties Database Appears in Unexpected Place". Science | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour. PBS. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  8. ^ Kathy Wren (2011-03-10). "News Release - "SCIENCE Exclusive: Civilian Casualties Rising in Afghanistan Conflict"" (Press release). AAAS. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  9. ^ Bohannon, J (2008). "The Gonzo Scientist. Slaying monsters for science". Science 320 (5883): 1592. doi:10.1126/science.320.5883.1592c. PMID 18566270. 
  10. ^ "Science/AAAS | Collections: Online Extras | The Gonzo Scientist". Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  11. ^ "Stephen's Fancy Feast - The Colbert Report - 2009-11-05 - Video Clip". Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  12. ^ Bohannon, J. (2011). "Calling All Dancing Scientists!". Science 333 (6047): 1219. doi:10.1126/science.333.6047.1219-b. PMID 21885754. 
  13. ^ Haglund, David (2011-10-20). "Dance Your Ph.D.: winners of the annual interpretive dance contest for scientists.". Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  14. ^ John Bohannon (2011-11-30). "TED Blog | Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal". Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  15. ^ Black Label Movement
  16. ^ "John Bohannon + Black Label Movement | Profile on". Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  17. ^ Bohannon, John (2013). "Who's Afraid of Peer Review?". Science 342 (6154): 60–65. doi:10.1126/science.342.6154.60. PMID 24092725. 
  18. ^ "Who does Peer Review?". 
  19. ^ Michael Eisen. "I confess, I wrote the Arsenic DNA paper". 
  20. ^ Martin Eve. "Flawed sting operation singles out open access journals". 
  21. ^ Peter Suber. "New "sting" of weak open-access journals.". 
  22. ^ Shieber, Stuart. "Lessons from the faux journal investigation". Harvard Law School. Retrieved 20 October 2013.