Shawn Lawrence Otto

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Shawn Lawrence Otto

Shawn Lawrence Otto is an American novelist, nonfiction author, filmmaker, political strategist, speaker, science advocate, and screenwriter and co-producer of the movie House of Sand and Fog.


Otto lives on a hobby farm near Marine on St. Croix with his wife, Rebecca Otto, the current Minnesota State Auditor.[1] Their home, called "Breezy," is passive solar, geothermal, wind-powered, and superinsulated. Otto designed it, and the couple built it with their own hands. Otto claims his family forefather, C.D. Gilfillan, founded the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Otto is a past (2009–2011) Board Chair of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.


Science debate[edit]

During the Hollywood writers' strike in 2007 and 2008, Otto co-founded and became the CEO of the largest private organization in the world, the 125-million-member Science Debate 2008, nearly three times the size of AARP (37 million members). Barack Obama and John McCain participated in Science Debate 2008, marking the first time in history endorsed presidential candidates laid out science policies in detail before the election. The initiative made over 800 million media impressions.[6] The campaign was co-sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Council on Competitiveness, PBS Nova, and Now on PBS, and its signers include over 170 major American universities and other leading organizations, over 100 university presidents, and dozens of Nobel laureates.

Notable public appearances[edit]

Otto delivered the keynote at the 45th annual Nobel Conference, on "Democracy in the Age of Science",[7] and has spoken at the United States National Academies, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) 2010. He has also spoken about science and politics on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation: Science Friday" and on television and radio throughout the world.

Awards and honors[edit]


  • de Turenne, Veronique (January 5, 2004). "House of Sand and Fog". Variety. 
  • "Star Tribune, Minneapolis, C.J. column". Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News. August 3, 2006. 
  • Boyle, Alan (October 20, 2008). "Science goes under the political microscope". MSNBC. 

External links[edit]