Mary Roach is an American author, specializing in popular science and humor. Her books: As of 2016, she has published seven books,: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003), Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005) (published in some markets as Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife), Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (2008), Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (2010), My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (2013), and Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War (2016).

Roach is noted for her curiosity and humor in addition to her research. Her many humor-laced articles in various publications over the decades include her monthly humor column, “My Planet”, in Reader’s Digest.

After college, Roach moved to San Francisco, California, and spent a few years working as a freelance copy editor. She worked as a columnist, and also worked in public relations for a brief time. Her writing career began while working part-time at the San Francisco Zoological Society, producing press releases on topics such as wart surgery on elephants. On her days off from the SFZS, she wrote freelance articles for the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine.[4]

In 1986, she sold a humor piece about the IRS to the San Francisco Chronicle. That piece led to a number of humorous, first-person essays and feature articles for such publications as Vogue, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Discover Magazine, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and Wired.[5][6] She has also written articles for and tech-gadget reviews for

From 1996 to 2005, Roach was part of “the Grotto,” a San Francisco-based project and community of working writers and filmmakers. It was in this community that Roach got the push she needed to break into book writing.[7] While being interviewed by Alex C. Telander of BookBanter, Roach answered the question of how she got started on her first book:

A few of us every year [from the Grotto] would make predictions for other people, where they’ll be in a year. So someone made the prediction that, ‘Mary will have a book contract.’ I forgot about it and when October came around I thought, I have three months to pull together a book proposal and have a book contract. This is what literally lit the fire under my butt.[8]

Although Roach writes primarily about science, she never intended to make it her career. Roach stated in an interview with, when asked what exactly got her hooked on writing about science, “To be honest, it turned out that science stories were always, consistently, the most interesting stories I was assigned to cover. I didn’t plan it like this, and I don’t have a formal background in science, or any education in science journalism. Actually I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology.”[9]

TV and radio shows have repeatedly asked Roach to appear as a guest so they could hear her opinions. She has appeared on programs like Coast to Coast AM,[10] The Daily Show,[11] and The Colbert Report.[12] Roach has had monthly columns in Reader’s Digest (“My Planet”) and Sports Illustrated for Women (“The Slightly Wider World of Sports”).[5]

Besides being a best-selling author, Roach is involved in many other projects. Roach reviews books for The New York Times, and was the guest editor of the Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 edition. She also serves as a member of the Mars Institute’s Advisory Board, as an ambassador for Mars One[13] and was recently asked to join the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary.