Shawn Lawrence Otto

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Otto in 2017

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 was born on April 21, 1961.


Otto in 2011

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. In August 2003, Otto and his wife, Rebecca, were indicted by a grand jury for distributing false campaign material. The charges stemmed from campaign literature distributed by the Ottos claiming that Matt Dean "put his own children in private school". When the literature was distributed, one of Dean's children was in public school and the other was enrolled to start kindergarten at a public school in the fall of 2003-2004. A judge threw out this case along, with two others, ruling that Minnesota's Fair Campaign Practices Law violates the state's constitutional separation of powers.[2]

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 Science Debate 2008. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain participated in the debate.

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]