Mara Hvistendahl is an investigative journalist and the author of the book The Scientist and The Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage (Riverhead 2020), which The Washington Post called “a riveting whodunit” and The Wall Street Journal described as “captivating and well-researched.” Her first book, Unnatural Selection, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Mara’s writing has been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Popular Science, Scientific American, WIRED, and other publications. She has testified before Congress, been a keynote speaker at conferences, and appeared on the BBC, CBS, MSNBC, NPR, and other radio and television outlets.
Mara is a founding member of Deca, a cooperative of award-winning writers creating narrative journalism about the world. Her work has been supported by New America, where she was a National Fellow, and by the Minnesota State Arts Board. She is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
For eight years, Mara was based in Shanghai. While there, she worked as China bureau chief for Science, wrote the longform true crime story And The City Swallowed Them, and had a Paleozoic fossil named after her. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.