School Science and Mathematics Association


Biography for
John Rennie


John Rennie is only the seventh editor in chief in the nearly 155-year history of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine. Since his appointment in late 1994, he has been the creative force behind the modernization and reinvigoration of this great publishing institution.

Rennie joined the staff of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN as a member of the Board of Editors in 1989, having previously worked as a science writer covering biology, technology and medicine for a variety of publications. He helped to plan and edit several of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN's distinguished single-topic issues, including Mind and Brain (September 1992, the best selling special issue in SA's history) and Life, Death and the Immune System (September 1993, later republished as a book by W. H. Freeman).

As editor in chief, Rennie has overseen such single-topic issues as Key Technologies for the 21st Century (September 1995) and What You Need to Know About Cancer (September 1996). Both of these issues were nominated for National Magazine Awards in their respective years; What You Need to Know About Cancer won for editorial excellence in the Single-Topic Issue category.

In addition to his work on the monthly SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine, Rennie has served since 1998 as editor in chief of the quarterly magazine SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN PRESENTS. He has been involved in the launch of Scientific American's web site,, and of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN EXPLORATIONS, the family science magazine.

Rennie was born in 1959 outside Boston. He received his bachelor of science degree in biology from Yale University in 1981, after which he worked for several years in a laboratory at Harvard Medical School before embarking on his career as a science writer. His writing has appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, Longevity and other publications. His numerous television and radio appearances include ABC World News Weekend, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, the A&E special Scams, Schemes and Scoundrels, Fox News Channel, Entertainment Tonight, ABC News Overnight, CBS Early Show and National Public Radio's Science Friday.

For several years, Rennie also worked by night as a sketch and improvisational comedian in New York, Boston and college venues. These days his major hobby is the study of karate, in which he holds the rank of nidan (2nd degree black belt).

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