Author KC Cole
Professor of Journalism, Emeritus




ASC 307E

Office Hours

By Appointment

More K.C.


Critical Thinking
Long-form Journalism
Science and Arts
Science and Society
Science Journalism

K.C. Cole, a former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, is a professor at USC Annenberg's School of Journalism. Cole’s writing has appeared in Discover, Wired, The New Yorker, Quanta, The New York Times, The Smithsonian, The Columbia Journalism Review, Newsweek, Esquire, Ms., The Washington Post and many other publications; her work was featured in The Best American Science Writing 2004 and 2005, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2002. She frequently writes op eds for the Los Angeles Times on the science of social issues, and won an EMMA (Exceptional Merit in Media Award) from the National Women's Political Caucus for one of these columns in 2013 (Why does 'CEO' mean 'white male'?)

Once described by as “the Leonardo da Vinci of science writing,” she is the author of eight nonfiction books, most recently, “Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and His Astonishing Exploratorium"a memoir/biography of her late mentor, the self-proclaimed “uncle” of the atomic bomb and founder of San Francisco’s world-renowned “museum of awareness,” the Exploratorium. Her other books include The Universe and the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty — a national best-seller translated into a dozen languages — Mind Over Matter: Conversations with the Cosmos, based on her LA Times columns, The Hole in the Universe and First You Build a Cloud.

Cole has contributed radio commentaries to American Public Media's Marketplace and was a science commentator for KPCC (Southern California Public Radio) and year-end commentator for NPR’s Science Friday as well as BBC’s World Service. Before coming to USC, she developed and taught courses on science writing and culture at Yale, Wesleyan and UCLA.

Among her most treasured awards are the American Institute of Physics prize for science writing, the Los Angeles Times award for Explanatory Journalism, the Edward R. Murrow Award for “thoughtful coverage of scientific controversies” from the Skeptics Society, and the Exploratorium’s public understanding of science award, presented by Frank Oppenheimer the year before his death. She is a lifetime honorary member of Sigma Xi, the world's largest scientific organization, and has been distinguished by USC as a "Remarkable Woman Faculty Member."

Cole grew up in Rio de Janeiro and Port Washington, and has lived in Shaker Heights, San Francisco and Westport CT. She received her B.A. from Barnard College in political science, and then spent several years living in Eastern Europe, where she wrote her first published article for the New York Times Sunday Magazine on the political situation in Czechoslovakia in 1970. For many years, she wrote about politics, women’s issues, travel and education before meeting Frank Oppenheimer and becoming entranced with science. She currently resides in Santa Monica.

Cole likes to play with the natural connections between science, art, politics, whatnot, and hosts an irregular series of events exploring these intersections at Santa Monica Art Studios known as Categorically Not!. Her personal website is

Did You Know

  • She has a cat named Pi.
  • Her house, not to mention her office, is full of (science) toys.



Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and the World He Made Up

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First You Build a Cloud: Reflections on Physics as a Way of Life

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 Mind Over Matter: Conversations with the Cosmos
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The Universe and the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty
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The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered Over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything
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Between the Lines: Searching for Space Between Feminism and Femininity and Other Tight Spots
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What Only a Mother Can Tell You About Having a Baby

Course Titles

Spring 2014:
J 498: Honors Seminar in Critical Thinking
ASCJ Annenberg Exploratory

Fall 2014:
J586: Specialized Reporting, Science
ASCJ 420: Environmental Communications Experience, Catalina
ASCJ 420: Maker Experience: The Exploratorium, San Francisco

Spring 2015:
J595: Independent Studies in Critical Thinking
ASCJ Annenberg Exploratory

Fall of 2015
J595: Critical Thinking: The Art and Science of Not Getting Fooled
ASCJ420: Ways of Knowing: Experiences in 360 degree Thinking