Lynn Margulis profiled in "On Wisconsin" Magazine

On Wisconsin


Lynn Margulis standing by a sign that reads, we know so little, in Spanish

Lynn Margulis standing by a sign that reads, we know so little, in Spanish

There’s an excellent profile of my mom, scientist Lynn Margulis, in this month’s “On Wisconsin” Magazine. She received a Master of Science at the University of Wisconsin in 1960 before going on to earn a Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley.

The article is called “Evolution Revolution” and written by Eric Goldscheider. Here are the first two paragraphs:

Lynn Margulis MS’60 is one of those rare scientists whose research fundamentally altered the way we view the world — in this case, the way we view evolution. With blunt language, she batters humanity out of its self-image as the pinnacle of life.

“Man is the consummate egotist,” Margulis has written. “It may come as a blow to our collective ego, but we are not masters of life perched on the top rung of an evolutionary ladder.” Instead, she likes to say that “beneath our superficial differences, we are all of us walking communities of bacteria.”

You can read the entire article on-line here.

I was impressed by the writing in this profile. I thought Goldscheider did a really good job both telling the story of my mom’s life (which is fascinating in itself) and making her scientific theories accessible to readers not necessarily interested in science.

I also liked his use of detail (he mentioned, for instance, that her small back yard abuts Emily Dickinson’s property. Even though I don’t consider her yard particularly small, the use of a specific adjective to describe it shows that Goldscheider has actually been there and seen it) and the colorful quotes he chose.

In addition to quoting her, he quotes several times from her various books–which also shows that he is a writer who has done his homework, reading up on her theories as well as asking her about them.

The article is not a picture perfect postcard, and from the writer’s tone, it seems that my mother’s bluntness may have been a bit intimidating to him. Goldscheider may also have taken her word too much for granted (he quotes her saying that her ex-husbands got the money and she got the children, which simply isn’t true. After my parents divorced, I lived most of the time with my father…), but all in all I think he did an excellent job.

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Categories: Lynn Margulis.


  1. I totally got sucked into this story. I had no idea that Darwin’s survival of the fittest was no longer the commonly held theory. Your mom sounds like a real character, too.

  2. Hey Jennifer! Great to bump into you online at Alisa’s blog, and come upon this blog about your mom! Great to hear that she is still going strong! I haven’t been in touch with her for a few years. Hope everything is going well for you and your family!

  3. Your mom is a phenomenon. I first learned of her theory through reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door when I was a kid; I was a biology major first in college and have always been fascinated with cells. It’s just so fun to read this article about her; I thought it was well done too! And wow, she doesn’t look 71!

  4. Wonderful — I can’t wait to read this article. I think I told you that my husband and I were listening to a book on CD on a long trip in our car last year. Your mother was discussed in depth along with several other innovative thinkers and creators. I shouted aloud when I listened, as I was thrilled to learn more about your mom. An amazing woman. What an interesting life you have, Jennifer!!

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