Susan M. Gaines

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Susan M Gaines is an American writer. She is the author of Best of the West (1992), Sacred Ground (1996), Carbon Dreams (2001), and co-author with Geoffrey Eglinton and Jurgen Rullkötter of Echoes of Life: What Fossil Molecules Reveal about Earth History (2009).[1] Her short stories have been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.[2] She is a former fellow of the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study in Germany.[3]


Gaines originally trained as a chemist and oceanographer,[1] and received a master's degree from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1987.[4] She has published peer-reviewed papers in The Journal of Organic Chemistry and the Journal of Chromatography A,[5][6] as well as essays and short stories in an assortment of journals, literary magazines, and anthologies (Econ Papers, Nature, and The North American Review).[7][8][9][10] She founded the "Fiction Meets Science" research and fellowship program at the University of Bremen.[11]

Writing career[edit]

Gaines began publishing short stories in the early nineties.[12] Her short story The Mouse was selected for The Best of the West 5, one in a series of annual anthologies of short stories, published annually from 1988 to 1992.[13]

Her novel Carbon Dreams was published in 2001, long before the term cli-fi was coined to describe the increasing number of novels concerned with climate change. Set in the early 1980s, it tells the story of a woman who discovers a way to study climate in the distant past that may have relevance for the climate of the future, and about the scientific, ethical and personal controversies that she inadvertently becomes embroiled in.[14] Elizabeth Wilson writing in Chemical and Engineering News called it a "step forward in the evolution of science-in-fiction.... A remarkable job of conveying what it's really like to be a scientist, and to make scientific discoveries—not in the blink of an eye, as television or movies would have it, but with gradually shifting insight."[15]

Echoes of Life: What Fossil Molecules Reveal about Earth History, published in 2009, is a work of non-fiction that provides an up-to-date survey of the interdisciplinary field of organic geochemistry, using the history of discovery, from early experiments in the 1930s to modern areas of research, to make the material accessible to students and scientists in different fields.[16][17]


  1. ^ a b Echoes of Life: What Fossil Molecules Reveal about Earth History, Oxford University Press, accessed May 12, 2010.
  2. ^ Carbon Dreams, Barnes and Noble, accessed May 12, 2010.
  3. ^ Echoes of Life, p. xi.
  4. ^ Brueggeman, Peter. "Scripps Institution of Oceanography in Fiction", Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, March 1, 2001, accessed May 12, 2010.
  5. ^ Gaines, Susan M.; Jeffrey L. Bada (June 1988). "Aspartame decomposition and epimerization in the diketopiperazine and dipeptide products as a function of pH and temperature". The Journal of Organic Chemistry. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  6. ^ Gaines, Susan M.; Jeffrey L. Bada (1987). "Reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatographic separation of aspartame diastereomeric decomposition products". Journal of Chromatography A. Journal of Chromatography A. 389: 219–225. doi:10.1016/S0021-9673(01)94425-5. 
  7. ^ Gaines, Susan M.; Stephan Leibfried; Lorraine Frisina. "Through the funhouse looking glass: Europe's ship of states". Econ Papers. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  8. ^ Gaines, Susan (2001). "Sex, love and science". Nature. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  9. ^ Gaines, Susan M. (March 1991). "Small Pleasures". 276. The North American Review: 48–49. JSTOR 25125239. 
  10. ^ Gaines, Susan M. (July 1992). "Bags". 277. The North American Review. JSTOR 25125395. 
  11. ^ "Fiction Meets Science". Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  12. ^ Missouri Review, Spring 1991; Sacred Ground: Writings about Home, edited by Barbara Bonner, 116-142. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions 1996: 116-142; The Cream City Review 17, no.2 (1993)
  13. ^ Thomas, James & Denise. "The Best of the West 5: New Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri". Galactic Central Publications. Retrieved 3 May 2010. ; Thomas, James; D. Seth Horton. "Best of the West 2009 New Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri". University of Texas Press. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  14. ^ Christensen, Thomas (March 4, 2001). "She Blinded Them With Science". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 1 May 2010. ; New Scientist vol 170 issue 2294 - 09 June 2001, p. 47; Kvenvolden, Keith A. Organic Geochemistry. Vol 32, Issue 5, May 2001, pp. 771-771. ISSN 0146-6380
  15. ^ Wilson, Elizabeth K. Chemical and Engineering News, June 4, 2001.
  16. ^ Bill Green, Chemical and Engineering News, July 20, 2009 Volume 87, Number 29 pp. 49-50
  17. ^ Bushaw-Newton, Karen. BioScience September 2009 / Vol. 59 No. 8