Richard Panek

Richard Panek

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Science Writing

Competition: US & Canada

Barnard College; Goddard College

Richard Panek has received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in Nonfiction Literature as well as an Antarctic Artists and Writers Program grant from the National Science Foundation. He has no background in science, but he hopes that by combining the exploratory sensibility of journalism with the storytelling techniques of long-form narrative, he can illuminate and humanize science for readers who, like himself before he began writing about the subject in the mid-1990s, would know little or nothing about it.


His Fellowship helped him complete The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner, 2011), the behind-the-scenes story of the discovery that wound up being recognized by the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics—that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.  He is also the author of two other books about the history and philosophy of science for nonspecialists, The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud, and the Search for Hidden Universes (Viking/Penguin, 2005) and Seeing and Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Our Minds to the Heavens (Viking/Penguin, 1999). He has frequently written about science and culture for the New York Times, as well as for Discover, Smithsonian, Natural History, Esquire, Outside, Seed, and many other publications; his short fiction has appeared in Ploughshares and won a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award.  He is on the faculty of the MFA Writing Program at Goddard College, and he also teaches creative writing at Barnard College.

For an example of Mr. Panek’s work, see


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