McKenna is an independent journalist and author who specializes in
public health, global health and food policy. She is a Senior Fellow at the
Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and was recently named the inaugural Knight Science Journalism Project Fellow at MIT.
She is a blogger for Wired, a columnist and contributing editor for Scientific American,
and writes frequently for national and international magazines
and websites including Nature, Slate, SELF, TheAtlantic.com, the Guardian, and More. Her work has also
appeared in Health, China Newsweek, MSNBC.com, CNBC.com, the Los Angeles Times,
the Washington Post, Boston Magazine, Chicago Magazine, the Bulletin of
the History of Medicine, Heart Healthy Living and Georgia Trend among
other publications. She is a regular contributor to the Annals of
She is the author most recently of SUPERBUG: The Fatal Menace of MRSA (Free
Press/Simon & Schuster 2010), on the international epidemic of
drug-resistant staph in hospitals, families and farms, which won the
2011 Science in Society Award. Her previous book is BEATING BACK THE DEVIL: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (Freee
Press/S&S 2004), the first history of the CDC’s Epidemic
Intelligence Service, for which she embedded with the corps for a year. BEATING BACK THE DEVIL was named
one of the Top Science Books of 2004 by Amazon.com and an "Outstanding
Academic Title" by the American Library Association. She is working on a new book about food production for National Geographic.
a newspaper reporter, she worked for 11 years at the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, where she was the only US journalist assigned to
full-time coverage of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She reported from the Indian Ocean tsunami and from Hurricane Katrina,
as well as from Southeast Asia, India, Africa and the Arctic, and
embedded with CDC teams on Capitol Hill during the 2001 anthrax attacks
and with a World Health Organization polio-eradication team in India.
she worked for the Boston Herald, where stories she co-wrote on
illnesses among veterans of the first Persian Gulf War led to the first
Congressional hearings on Gulf War Syndrome, and at the Cincinnati
Enquirer, where her stories on the association between local cancer
clusters and contamination escaping a federal nuclear weapons plant
contributed to a successful nuclear-harm lawsuit by residents. She was
also previously a staff member at the Center for Infectious Disease
Research and Policy of the University of Minnesota.
Maryn has been an Ochberg Fellow of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University; a Media Fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation; and a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. She has also served short fellowships at Harvard Medical School and the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families at the University of Maryland. In 2006, she was an inaugural Health Journalism Fellow of the East-West Center in Honolulu and is now an Associate of the Center and teaches other journalists in its programs in Asia.
She is a cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, has a master’s degree with highest honors from Northwestern University, and is the recipient of numerous journalism awards.