A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman

A Memoir

by Lindy Elkins-Tanton

On Sale: 06/07/2022

A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman

Enlarge Book Cover

A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman

A Memoir

by Lindy Elkins-Tanton

On Sale: 06/07/2022


About the Book

"Fierce, absorbing, and ultimately inspiring." —ELIZABETH KOLBERT

"One of the finest scientific memoirs ever written." —DAVID W. BROWN

From one of the world’s leading planetary scientists, a luminous memoir of exploration on Earth, in space, and within oneself—equal parts ode to the beauty of science, meditation on loss, and roadmap for personal resilience

Deep in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, three times farther from the sun than the Earth is, orbits a massive asteroid called (16) Psyche. It is one of the largest objects in the belt, potentially containing the equivalent of the world’s total economy in metals, though they cannot be brought back to Earth. But (16) Psyche has the potential to unlock something even more valuable: the story of how planets form, and how our planet formed. Soon we will find out, thanks to the extraordinary work of Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the Principal Investigator of NASA’s $800 million Psyche mission, and the second woman ever to be awarded a major NASA space exploration contract.

The journey that brought her to this place is extraordinary. Amid a childhood of terrible trauma, Elkins-Tanton fell in love with science as a means of healing and consolation. But still she wondered, was forced to wonder: as a woman, was science “for her”? In answering that question, she takes us from the wilds of the Siberian tundra to the furthest reaches of outer space, from the Mayo Clinic, where Elkins-Tanton battled ovarian cancer while writing the Psyche proposal, to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where her team brought that proposal to life.

A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman is a beautifully-constructed memoir that explores how a philosophy of life can be built from the tools of scientific inquiry. It teaches us how to approach difficult problems by asking the right questions and truly listening to the answers—and how we may find meaning through exploring the wonders of the universe around us.

Critical Praise

“Lindy Elkins-Tanton has led a fascinating life, full of wonder and discovery and also pain and loss. Her memoir, A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman, is fierce, absorbing, and ultimately inspiring.” — ELIZABETH KOLBERT, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction

"A deeply personal and enlightening book of one amazing woman’s leadership and teachings in science and self-discovery." — Col. CHRIS HADFIELD, former Commander of the International Space Station and #1 Bestselling Author of An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth

"[A] beautiful and inspiring memoir." — Christian Science Monitor (One of the 10 Best Books of June)

"A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman is an inspiring tale of grit and grace, and a captivating study of leadership in changing times. Lindy Elkins-Tanton is a talented storyteller with a story that must be told. More than a memoir of how we explore other worlds, she has written an insightful narrative of how we live on this one. It is one of the finest scientific memoirs ever written." — DAVID W. BROWN, author of The Mission

"The principal investigator of NASA’s Psyche mission lays bare the challenges and rewards of succeeding as a woman in a male-dominated field and how the sublime beauty of the universe brought her strength and solace. ... Enthralling and inspiring. ... A fearless, riveting, and galvanizing book from a star in the U.S. space program." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Wonderful. ... [A] sometimes harrowing, often heroic, and adventurous chronicle." — Planetary Radio

"Covers wide-ranging personal and professional terrain with depth and insight." — Nautilus

“Elkins-Tanton shines in her ability to render the process of scientific discovery in eloquent prose. … A wonderful paean to the beauty of scientific exploration.”
Publishers Weekly

"Engaging. ... This memoir chronicles the journey of one woman in science but is also a rallying cry to make academia a more supportive and diverse workplace so that the research community can better address the societal and scientific challenges of the 21st century." — Science

"Engaging and candid. ... Spotlights the challenges and successes of being a woman in a male-dominated field. ... With wide appeal to a wide audience, this work provides a closer look at the human side of science." — Library Journal

"Elkins-Tanton explores ways to create better, more inclusive disciplines through curiosity, generosity, and collaboration." — Booklist


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063086906
  • ISBN 10: 0063086905
  • Imprint: William Morrow
  • On Sale: 06/07/2022
  • Pages: 272
  • List Price:36.99 CAD
  • BISAC2 : SCIENCE / Space Science
  • BISAC3 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Science & Technology

A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman by Lindy Elkins-Tanton

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the web site's home page.

Other Booksellers

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the Web site's home page.


Specialty Booksellers

Interest-specific online venues and gift accounts that offer books for purchase. The links will take you to the store’s home page.

International Customers

If you are located outside Canada, the best way to order online is to choose from the following bookstores listed by region and country.