Elena Conis is a writer and historian of medicine, public health, and the environment. Prior to joining the Graduate School of Journalism, she was a professor of history and the Mellon Fellow in Health and Humanities at Emory University and an award-winning health columnist for the Los Angeles Times, where she wrote the “Esoterica Medica,” “Nutrition Lab,” and “Supplements” columns.

Her current research focuses on scientific controversies, science denial, and the public understanding of science, and has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine, and the Science History Institute. Her first book, Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization, received the Arthur J. Viseltear Award from the American Public Health Association and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title and a Science Pick of the Week by the journal Nature. She is currently working on a book on science and the public.

Elena is an affiliate of Berkeley's Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society and the Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She holds a PhD in the history of health sciences from UCSF; masters degrees in journalism and public health from Berkeley; and a bachelors degree in biology from Columbia University.

Media Mentions

September 27, 2020: Epizootic: How Infectious Disease Can Move From Wildlife to Humans — and Back to Wildlife (Bay Nature) 

September 21, 2020: How Will it End? A Q&A on Pandemics, Past and Present (Cal Alumni Association) 

August 17, 2020: Trust, Fear and Solidarity Will Determine the Success of a COVID Vaccine (Kaiser Health News) 

August 6, 2020: Coronavirus Pandemic: UC Berkeley historian draws similarities between COVID-19 and polio epidemic of the 1950s (ABC 7 News) 

July 28, 2020: What polio in post-WWII America can teach us about living in a pandemic (NOVA Next) 

June 30, 2020: Remembering the history of polio can help in finding a coronavirus vaccine (Berkeley Blog) 

June 22, 2020: How a New Vaccine Was Developed in Record Time in the 1960s (History) 

May 31, 2020: Why do some people refuse to wear masks? Defiance, misguided thinking (San Francisco Chronicle) 

May 21, 2020: How an Army of Washington Contact Tracers Is Fighting Coronavirus (The Daily Chronicle) 

May 20, 2020: Opinion | What to Expect When a Coronavirus Vaccine Finally Arrives (The New York Times) 

May 20, 2020: Why you might now get a phone call to tell you you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus (The Seattle Times) 

April 23, 2020: 'It's overhyped': Trump mega-donor pushes to end Wisconsin's stay-at-home order (The Guardian) 

April 13, 2020: Generation C Has Nowhere to Turn (The Atlantic) 

April 9, 2020: Why both major political parties have failed to curb dangerous pesticides (Washington Post) 

April 8, 2020: The birth of a pandemic: How COVID-19 went from Wuhan to Toronto (National Post) 

April 2, 2020: The coronavirus will change our lives, but the environment could see benefits (San Francisco Chronicle) 

May 14, 2020: SJ Baker: The New Yorker who saved 90,000 infants (BBC) 

March 25, 2020: How the Pandemic Will End (The Atlantic) 

March 13, 2020: What history can teach us about disease-driven economic panic (Berkeley Blog) 

March 9, 2020: What History’s Economy-Disrupting Outbreaks Can Teach Us About Coronavirus Panic (TIME) 

May 13, 2019: How Public Health Outreach Ended A 1990s Measles Outbreak And What's Different Now (NPR) 

May 9, 2019: Why the measles outbreak has roots in today's political polarization (Los Angeles Times) 

May 6, 2019: The vaccination debate has always been heated. Does that help or hurt the issue? (KALW)