Rachel Gross, award-winning science journalist, is the author of Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage (2021), a brilliant account of recent discoveries by a new generation of women scientists regarding the wonders of the female body.

Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Ed Yong said, “Rachel Gross shows how long we have misunderstood the bodies of half the people who have ever lived.... Science writing at its finest—revelatory, wry, consequential, necessary, and incredibly hard to put down.”

“The vagina is having a much-belated moment, and thanks to Rachel E. Gross, now so are the ovaries, clitoris, and uterus. In Vagina Obscura, Gross clears away the linguistic and scientific shroud from the least investigated and most misunderstood structures in the human body and tells their story deftly and beautifully."
 -- Emily Willingham, PhD, author of Phallacy: Life Lessons From the Animal Penis

Science writing at its finest

Rachel Gross

Thursday, March 10, 2022
4:30 p.m. -- Craft talk on science writing
7:30 p.m. -- Presentation/Q&A
Both events in the D'Ambra Auditorium
Life Sciences Research Building
University at Albany,
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222

Event subject to change. We encourage you to sign up for email updates to stay up-to-date on schedule information. 

Free and open to the public. Masks required. 
Free parking in the State Quad parking lot.

Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage, by Rachel Gross
Rachel Gross, credit Monique Jacques  copy.jpg

About Rachel Gross:

Rachel Gross covers the debates and personalities that shape scientific knowledge, most recently as Digital Science Editor for Smithsonian Magazine. In 2016 she launched a special series at Smithsonian to uncover the stories of women scientists who were written out of history. She now tells these stories as a columnist for the BBC Future series "Missed Genius."

 

In 2019 she received a MacDowell Fellowship to complete research and reporting for her book. Before that she was a 2018-19 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, where she studied reproductive biology, gender, and history of science. 

Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National Geographic, WIRED, New Scientist, Slate, Undark, and NPR, among others.

She studied English Literature at UC Berkeley and received a master's in Science Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism. 

About Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage:

A myth-busting voyage into the female body.

A camera obscura reflects the world back but dimmer and inverted. Similarly, science has long viewed woman through a warped lens, one focused narrowly on her capacity for reproduction. As a result, there exists a vast knowledge gap when it comes to what we know about half of the bodies on the planet.

 

That is finally changing. Today, a new generation of researchers is turning its gaze to the organs traditionally bound up in baby-making―the uterus, ovaries, and vagina―and illuminating them as part of a dynamic, resilient, and ever-changing whole. Welcome to Vagina Obscura, an odyssey into a woman’s body from a fresh perspective, ushering in a whole new cast of characters.

 

In Boston, a pair of biologists are growing artificial ovaries to counter the cascading health effects of menopause. In Melbourne, a urologist remaps the clitoris to fill in crucial gaps in female sexual anatomy. Given unparalleled access to labs and the latest research, journalist Rachel E. Gross takes readers on a scientific journey to the center of a wonderous world where the uterus regrows itself, ovaries pump out fresh eggs, and the clitoris pulses beneath the surface like a shimmering pyramid of nerves.

 

This paradigm shift is made possible by the growing understanding that sex and gender are not binary; we all share the same universal body plan and origin in the womb. That’s why insights into the vaginal microbiome, ovarian stem cells, and the biology of menstruation don’t mean only a better understanding of female bodies, but a better understanding of male, non-binary, transgender, and intersex bodies―in other words, all bodies.

 

By turns funny, lyrical, incisive, and shocking, Vagina Obscura is a powerful testament to how the landscape of human knowledge can be rewritten to better serve everyone.

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Women in Science and Health network (WISH).

COVID PROTOCOL FOR ALL IN-PERSON EVENTS:

Masks are now optional in all places on UAlbany’s campuses. 

We strongly recommend unvaccinated individuals, as well as vaccinated individuals who have not yet received a COVID-19 booster, to continue wearing a mask. Individuals should not attend our in-person events if they — or anyone in their household — are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. 

UAlbany COVID guidelines.

D'Ambra Auditorium