Caitlin E. O'Connell

Dr. Caitlin O'Connell is a Consulting Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine and a world renowned expert on elephants and vibrotactile sensitivity. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed science memoir, The Elephant's Secret Sense (2007, Simon & Schuster), which highlights a novel form of elephant communication as well as the elephant’s conservation plight. Her narrative nonfiction photo book An Elephant's Life (2011, Lyons Press) uses a graphic novel approach to revealing subtle and intimate aspects of elephant society. Her co-authored nonfiction children's book, The Elephant Scientist (2011, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children) won five awards, including the Robert F. Sibert Honor and Horn Book Honor for 2012. A Baby Elephant In The Wild (2014, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers) was a Junior Library Guild Select and winner of the 2015 NSTA award for Outstanding Science Trade Book for students K-12. Elephant Don: The Politics Of A Pachyderm Posse (2015, University of Chicago Press), brings to light the hidden world of male elephant society. It is now available in paperback and is the subject of the award-winning Smithsonian documentary, ELEPHANT KING. Her debut novel, Ivory Ghosts (2015, Random House) was nominated for the International Thriller Writer's Thriller Award for Best ebook Original Novel. The sequel, WHITE GOLD, is set in China and comes out in 2017. Bridge To The Wild (2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers) invites young readers on a journey to understand why animals are so special. O'Connell is the co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization, Utopia Scientific (, dedicated to research and science education. She is also co-director of Triple Helix Productions, with a mandate to develop more accurate science content for the media. She has taught Science Writing for Stanford University and The New York Times Knowledge Network.
Contact her at

Also visit her elephant blog: And be sure to watch an award-winning documentary about her research on the Smithsonian Channel:

Author quote: "Converting scientific concepts into narrative stories helps me see patterns in nature that I hadn’t realized were there. It also helps bring a fantastical character to life that has gotten under my skin and won’t stop itching until I reveal its true nature to others…"

  • A Baby Elephant In The Wild “Junior Library Guild Select”
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