Olivia Judson

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Olivia Judson
Born1970 (age 50–51)
Other namesDr. Tatiana
Alma mater
Known forDr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation
Scientific career
ThesisParasites, sex and genetic variation in a model metapopulation (1994)
Doctoral advisorW. D. Hamilton[1]

Olivia P. Judson (born 1970) is an evolutionary biologist and science writer. She is a former online columnist for The New York Times and has published in National Geographic. Judson was a Guggenheim fellow in 2020.[2]


Judson is the daughter of science historian Horace Freeland Judson, and was a pupil of W. D. Hamilton.[1] She graduated from Stanford University and gained a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Oxford.[3]


Judson has published at least 13 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, Science and The Lancet.[4]

Beginning in 1995 Judson worked for two years as a science writer for The Economist and she later joined Imperial College London, where she is now an honorary research fellow. In 1997, she wrote an Economist article named "Sex Is War!" which was awarded the Glaxo Wellcome Prize by the British Science Writers Association.[1]

Her first book, Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation (2002), grew out of that article. Written in the style of a sex-advice column to animals, the book details the variety of sexual practices in the natural world and provides the reader with an overview of the evolutionary biology of sex. The book was praised by critics as being witty and engaging, without compromising its scientific integrity. It became an international best-seller, translated into 16 languages and was nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2003.[1][5]

Judson has also worked as a television presenter. In 2004 she played Dr Tatiana in an adaptation of her book; the series was produced by Wag TV and EPI Productions for Channel 4 and Discovery Canada. In 2007 she co-presented Animal Farm with Giles Coren; the series, which explored genetic modification and pharming, was produced by Lion Television for Channel 4.

Judson is a former online columnist for The New York Times. In 2014 she did a series of eight blogs, after a four-year hiatus.[6] In January 2008, Judson began writing a weekly blog on evolutionary biology, titled "The Wild Side", for The New York Times website. For the first half of 2009, guest bloggers filled in for Judson while she worked on a new book, Dinosaur Eggs for Breakfast, and she then had been on a "sabbatical" from blogging beginning June 29, 2010.[7]

In 2009, she appeared in an episode of PBS's Nova called "What Darwin Never Knew" which discussed DNA connections to evolution.

Judson has supported a possible future campaign to completely wipe out a species of mosquito which carries dengue fever.[8]

Judson has published articles in National Geographic magazine, on cassowaries in 2013 and on octopuses in 2016.[9][10]

In 2018 Judson was appointed journalist-in-residence at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin. It was announced that she would be researching science in St. Petersburg in the 1880s and working on a new book, 'a history of life on Earth, aimed at a general audience'.[11]

In an article she published in Nature Ecology and Evolution in 2018, Judson is listed as working at Freie Universität Berlin, Imperial College London and University of Glasgow.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d "Dr Olivia Judson's animal magic". Reporter ("The Newspaper of Imperial College, London"). 11 July 2003.
  2. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Olivia Judson". Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  3. ^ Judson, Olivia P. (1994). Parasites, sex and genetic variation in a model metapopulation (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford.
  4. ^ "Olivia Judson".
  5. ^ Dr Tatiana - Translations
  6. ^ NYTimes blog
  7. ^ Olivia Judson (June 29, 2010). "So Long, and Thanks". The Wild Side blog at NYTimes.com.
  8. ^ Olivia Judson (September 9, 2008). "A Genetically Engineered Swat". The Wild Side blog at NYTimes.com.
  9. ^ National Geographic - Big Bird
  10. ^ National Geographic - Why do octopuses remind us so much of ourselves?
  11. ^ The Max Planck Institute for History of Science - News
  12. ^ Nature Ecology and Evolution - The Energy Expansions of Evolution

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