The Scientists Behind the Stories at Scientific American

Introducing the new board of advisers that serve as expert sources to our magazine

Matt Collins

The headlines were different when the biweekly broadsheet began, but the engine of innovation behind them was the same as it is today: science. Readers of Scientific American’s first issue, dated August 28, 1845, must have been struck by the front-page story on “Improved Rail-Road Cars” that were “calculated to avoid atmospheric resistance.” They may have marveled at the item about Morse’s telegraph, which speculated: “This wonder of the age, which has for several months past been in operation between Washington and Baltimore, appears likely to come into general use through the length and breadth of the land.”

Reflecting the profound changes in science and society in the past century and a half, the top stories today have changed—global warming, stem cells, and technologies for energy independence, to name a few. But science is still at their roots. Indeed, it is clearer than ever that it is not some remote endeavor that occurs in walled-off ivory towers, removed from the concerns of humankind. Far from it. Science, and the technologies that grow out of it, touches the lives of all people. And as advances have arisen, Scientific American has been there to explain and enlighten.

We could not do so without the generous amounts of time provided by our scientist sources and contributors. The researchers who author articles for us are at the pinnacles of their fields; more than 120 Nobel laureates are among them. The scientists spend hours explaining their research and findings to our reporters and editors. They help to check the accuracy of informational graphics, charts and tables. And they, along with our expert journalists and editors, suggest ideas for stories that deserve coverage in the pages of the magazine and online at That working relationship has always been implicit in everything we do.

Continuing in that tradition of close collaboration, we have now expanded our board of advisers. Below, you will see the names of people who have agreed, as friends of the magazine, to assist in our mission of being for you, our readers, the best source for information about science and technology advances and how they will affect our lives. The advisers give us feedback on story proposals and manuscripts from time to time. We may tap their expertise for planning. I personally hope that they will critique and challenge us as well, holding us up to the kind of scrutiny that every endeavor requires to excel.

In responding to my invitation, many of the advisers reacted with warm words about Scientific American, telling me how it had inspired them as readers or reminding me of its critical role in informing the public. That is a daunting level of expectation to live up to, but in those same scientists and experts we also have a powerful tool toward that end. Our goal, of course, is to better serve you, our readers.

Board of Advisers
Leslie C. Aiello
President, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research

Roger Bingham
Professor, Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego

G. Steven Burrill
CEO, Burrill & Company

Arthur Caplan
Emanuel and Robert Hart Professor of Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania

Sean Carroll
Senior Research Associate, Department of Physics, Caltech

George M. Church
Director, Center for Computational Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Rita Colwell
Distinguished Professor, University of Maryland College Park and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Drew Endy
Professor of Bioengineering, Stanford University

Ed Felten
Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University

This article was originally published with the title "From the Sources."

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