Dustin Grinnell is a writer based in Boston. He’s penned everything from short stories to scripts, from scientific articles to sci-fi novels, and has been published in the world’s top media outlets. These outlets include the Washington Post, Salon, VICE, the LA Review of Books, Writer’s Digest, the Boston Globe, and the New Scientist. Along the way, he’s won a variety of awards, been featured in international exhibitions, and taught workshops.
Trained as a research scientist, Grinnell brings to bear in his reporting a fearless curiosity and a passion for rigor. He follows in the footsteps of pioneering immersion journalist Nelly Bly, who famously went undercover to expose a mental institution.
Whatever the locale, whatever the subject, Grinnell prides himself on his dexterity as a traveler: He knows not only how to navigate new cities and communicate with the locals, but also how to leave behind his biases and assumptions.
Using this approach, he’s interviewed a con man and explored the secret life of a sex slave in a sadomasochistic relationship. He’s profiled AJ Hackett, who invented bungee jumping, and interviewed two scientists who visited Bermuda to unearth a new model organism. In 2019, he detailed his own brush with conversion disorder in Perspectives in Biology & Medicine.
As for his personal adventures, Grinnell is equally audacious. He’s climbed Kilimanjaro, run the Paris marathon, hitchhiked every inch of New Zealand, and backpacked through Britain, Spain, France, and Costa Rica. These expeditions have been featured as essays in the Sunday travel sections of media such as the Boston Globe and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In 2015, he journeyed to China to explore traditional Chinese medicine. The resulting travel essays appeared in the LA Review of Books, Lost Magazine, Travelmag, and Perceptive Travel. “Elixirs of Nature” received an honorable mention from the National Association of Travel Journalists.
When he returned home from China, he motorcycled across the United States for a month. He detailed these journeys in three forums: A video, “Finding Words to Live By in Dad’s Letters,” which appeared on Outside.com; a memoir piece, “Thoughts on Life and Death Before I Ride”; and an essay, “Walkabout Love in China.”
“Thoughts on Life” earned third place in the 2017 Writer’s Workshop “Hard Times” contest, while “Walkabout” brought home gold in the “love” category in the 2018 Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing.
Grinnell also employs his reportorial talent as a corporate writer, or what he calls an “organizational storyteller.” In this capacity, he’s ghostwritten a wide range of content — everything from sales letters and fundraising appeals to proposals and case studies, from brochures and reports to newsletters and ads.
In 2013, he founded Charles Rivers’ science blog, Eureka, and wrote and produced the video, “Scientists of the World.” Since 2016, he’s been a full-time writer for Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. At the Brigham, Grinnell develops sponsored content and stories that serve the public good. Topics he’s tackled include meditation, community health workers, integrative medicine, and the Hippocratic Oath. He founded the popular “Medical Mysteries” column on Brigham Health Hub and profiled Brigham’s Bioengineers for Clinical & Research News.
Previously, Grinnell worked for the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Charles Rivers Labs, and Custom Learning Designs. At each organization, he honed the ability to pair his scientific background with a passion for the humanities.
As a storyteller for businesses, he always asks two questions when beginning an assignment: “Who cares?” and “So what?” These twin touchstones allow him to develop copy that isn’t merely interesting, but also persuasive; that is, it inspires you to take action.
Science Fiction with Heart
Finally, to quench his lifelong creative thirst, Grinnell writes fiction. He focuses on philosophical science fiction, which he describes as “sci-fi with a heart”: Less tech-driven than “hard” sci-fi, with more emotion, heart, and soul. An example of this genre is his short story, A Case of Aphantasia.
He’s the author of several novels: The Genius Dilemma (2013), which explores man’s obsession with progress through cognitive enhancement, and Without Limits (2015), which explores man’s inherent desire to cheat via a nanotechnology-based performance enhancement technology. Faraway Island, his novel in progress, explores the use of a gene-hacking technology to correct predispositions to unethical behavior in adolescents. All three novels are part of Grinnell’s “Human 2.0” series that explores the science and perils of enhancing our biology to make us superhuman.
Grinnell is also the screenwriter of the feature-length screenplay, “Play,” which was named a finalist in the 2013 Acclaim Scripts Film Contest, and co-writer of MFA (TV show). He’s also written a play, Two Clones in a Room.
Grinnell holds an MFA in creative writing from the Solstice Program in Chestnut Hill, MA, a BA in psychobiology from Wheaton College (MA), and an MS in physiology from Penn State, where he conducted human-performance research at the Noll Laboratory.
Connect with Dustin Grinnell on Twitter, follow his adventures on Instagram, and read his writing on DustinGrinnell.com.