Juli Berwald

Juli Berwald
Juli Berwald (Photo by Madeleine Tilin Photography)

Juli Berwald received her Ph.D. in Ocean Science from the University of Southern California. A science textbook writer and editor, she has written for a number of publications, including The New York TimesNatureNational Geographic, and Slate.

Marine invertebrates stole my heart on my first snorkel in the Red Sea during college. Hoping to study the ocean forever, I spent seven years building mathematical algorithms to interpret satellite imagery of the ocean, receiving my Ph.D. in ocean science. My husband stole my heart next, and I drifted away from the ocean to Austin, Texas to be with him. Landlocked, I wrote textbooks and popular science articles for National Geographic Magazine, Oceanus, Redbook, and Wired.com before the story of jellyfish led me back to the sea.

SPINELESS book cover
Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

Spineless is about jellyfish, and yes, jellyfish are spineless. They are gross, gooey–and they sting. But jellyfish are also positioned for success in today’s carbon-rich, polluted, overfished, and overdeveloped ocean. The message from jellyfish is that we haven’t yet taken responsibility for our impacts on our planet. A gap exists between where we are and where we are still realizing we need to be. There’s opportunity in that gap, but to cross it, we need to grow a spine.