Caitlin O’Connell

Caitlin O’Connell holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis, and has been studying elephant ecology and behavior for over 15 years. She has published over 25 peer-reviewed scientific articles and numerous articles for the popular press.

Dr. O’Connell is on the faculty at Stanford University Medical School and is the author of the internationally acclaimed nonfiction science memoir, The Elephant’s Secret Sense (2007, Free Press), which highlights a novel form of elephant communication as well as their conservation plight. Her narrative nonfiction photo book An Elephant’s Life (2011, Lyons Press) uses a graphic novel approach to revealing subtle and intimate aspects of elephant society. Her co-authored nonfiction children’s book, The Elephant Scientist (2011, Houghton Mifflin Children’s Books) won five awards, including the Robert F. Sibert Honor and Horn Book Honor for 2012. A Baby Elephant In The Wild (2014, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers) is a Junior Library Guild Select and winner of the 2015 NSTA award for Outstanding Science Trade Book for students K-12. Elephant Don: The Politics Of A Pachyderm Posse (University of Chicago Press) comes out May, 2015. Her debut novel, Ivory Ghosts, comes out with Random House, April 7, 2015. O’Connell is the co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization, Utopia Scientific (, dedicated to research and science education. She is also co-director of Triple Helix Productions, with a mandate to develop more accurate science content for the media. She has taught Science Writing for Stanford University and The New York Times Knowledge Network.

Dr. O’Connell also works on science education projects from the classroom to the field and other aspects of conservation including coral reef and flamingo restoration.