Photograph by Dylan Lees Photography, copyright Alice Dreger 2022.

Alice Dreger is a professional historian and journalist who has lived a lot of lives. A college drop-out who went on to earn a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University, she is known variously for her hard-hitting investigative history and journalism, her advocacy for the rights of people born with unusual anatomies, and her promotion of First Amendment rights, particularly free speech and press freedoms. Dreger is a Guggenheim Fellow, an award-winning writer, and the founder of East Lansing Info, a local news operation for which she served as publisher for a decade. The recipient of nine teaching awards, she has taught history of medicine, history of science, gender and sexuality studies, bioethics, and guest-taught local journalism. She has also given over two hundred invited lectures, including many keynote and plenary addresses.

Dreger’s bylines include the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, WIRED, Slate, the Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Aeon Magazine, the Chronicle of Higher Education, New Statesman, Quillette, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. Her books have been published by Penguin Press, Harvard University Press, Cambridge University Press, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and Amazon Kindle Singles.

Dreger has served as faculty at the University of Minnesota (1995-19996), Michigan State University (1996-2005), and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine (2005-2015) in addition to short-term endowed professorships at the University of Wisconsin (2006 Brittingham Endowed Visiting Professorship), Cornell College (2010 Presidential Fellow), the University of Miami (2016 Henry King Stanford Distinguished Professorship), the University of Pittsburgh/Magee Women’s Hospital (2018 Visiting Professor), and Southern Illinois University Schools of Law and Medicine (2018 Ryan Bioethicist-in-Residence).

Dreger’s best known book is Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice, which argues that the pursuit of evidence is the most important ethical imperative of our time. Funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship and published by Penguin Press, the book received praise in The New Yorker, Nature, Science, Forbes, New York Magazine, Human Nature, and Salon. Galileo’s Middle Finger was also named “Editor’s Choice” by The New York Times Book Review and recommended by Steve Pinker, Dan Savage, Jared Diamond, and E.O. Wilson, among many others. The work received the book-of-the-year award for nonfiction from the Society of Midland Authors.

The winner of the inaugural Courage Award from the Heterodox Academy, Dreger now serves on the Advisory Council of that institution. The Chronicle of Higher Education has called her a “star scholar” and described her writing as “reliably funny and passionate and vulnerable.” Her essay, “Lavish Dwarf Entertainment,” was selected for Norton’s annual Best Creative Non-Fiction volume. John Green has named her book One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal as among his favorites. The same book has been praised by Jeffrey Eugenides and Abraham Verghese and was honored by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights.

Dreger earned her Ph.D. in 1995 in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University, where her work was supported by a Charlotte Newcombe Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Since then, she has often been called a public intellectual, in part because she has published widely-cited major original work in scholarly journals alongside high-visibility essays in the mainstream press. Some people know her for having live-tweeted her son’s abstinence sex ed class, a viral tweet storm that carried across international borders. For her work on youth sex ed, she is the recipient of an Outstanding Leadership Award in Comprehensive Sexuality Education from SIECUS, Planned Parenthood, Advocates for Youth, GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), and the Healthy Teen Network.

Dreger’s TEDx lecture, Is Anatomy Destiny, has been viewed over a million times, and she has appeared as a guest expert on hundreds of media programs over the years, including Oprah, Good Morning America, and NPR, and in many original documentaries, including for A&E, ABC, Discovery, PBS, and HBO.

Turning what was becoming a local news desert into a garden, in 2012, Dreger founded East Lansing Info (ELi), an innovative nonpartisan, nonprofit, hyperlocal news service. That organization is now recognized nationally as a model for how citizens dedicated to the core values of serious journalism can come together to bring themselves accurate, nonpartisan, meaningful community and watchdog news. The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan featured ELi in the 2020 book, Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of America Democracy.

A native New Yorker, Dreger now divides her time between East Lansing, Michigan, where she runs trails, and Hyde Park, Chicago, where she swims off the rocks of Promontory Point in the open waters of Lake Michigan (if the water is above 63 degrees).

Dreger is currently working on a book about the madness and nobility of local news rescue, a sequel of sorts to Galileo’s Middle Finger. Her literary agent is Javelin’s Matt Carlini.