About me

Bunny suit

I study the genomes of modern and ancient peoples in order to uncover details of human prehistory. You can learn more about my scientific publications and credentials here and here. I’m also a martial artist, currently training (and occasionally competing) in Muay Thai, boxing, BJJ, and MMA.
This is a blog about my passions: science, conflict, adventure, and interesting people. The name was suggested by Jeff Rabhan. 
Have a question about science that you’d like to ask me? Please feel free to send it using the email link above.


73 thoughts on “About me

  1. Muay Thai, boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and MMA? Cage fighting. That sounds awesome! You are one bad chica! Keep up those posts!

    Posted by iamgozer24 | August 20, 2013, 5:48 pm
  2. Are you related to Rudolf Raff?

    Posted by Anonymous | August 27, 2013, 8:13 am
  3. Jennifer:
    On your Vita page: it should be Principal Fellow, not Principle.

    Posted by Atom Egoyan | August 27, 2013, 6:14 pm
  4. In a кедровый (tiny) nutshell, what’s your take on ‘The Stoned Ape’ as described by Terrence McKenna, or more recently (and controversially on TEDx!) Graham Hancock?

    Posted by McD | August 29, 2013, 1:32 am
  5. How’d you get interested in martial arts?
    If I had my daughter to raise all over again,
    she’d be a mat rat as soon as she could walk.

    Posted by Mark Brady | August 30, 2013, 11:19 am
  6. I very much enjoy your writing. I have only just found you from another blog. I admire the way you positively take constructive criticism and use it to improve your post.

    I will follow your intelligent and cogent posts with interest.

    Posted by Shane Norman | August 31, 2013, 3:30 am
  7. Jennifer,
    This is an excerpt from a weekly “word focused” email newsletter I get. If, by any chance, this word is not already part of your vocabulary, you might want to add it. :-)

    “Agnotology is the study of culturally induced ignorance.”

    The list, World Wide Words, is by Michael Quinion and this is his website address:


    Posted by Marni | October 5, 2013, 12:14 pm
  8. There is a lot of FDA issues running around right now. Here is one of the latest from Hpost.com – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/18/nuvaring-blood-clots_n_4461429.html. There are many angles to take with these stories, I would love to hear from you any angle you choose to write about on this vast topic(s).

    Posted by homeownerchick | December 18, 2013, 11:42 am
  9. I found you today because a friend shared your most recent vaccine post. I am so happy to have found you. I look forward to catching up on what I’ve missed, and to seeing more to come. I am not in the scientific field, but consuming information and gaining knowledge is my passion. My interests have turned toward genetics in recent years, due to both familial colon cancer (Lynch has not been confirmed; neither aunt’s samples were tested) and an extremely rare form of spontaneous, recurrent OHSS for myself (suggested that this may be caused by a mutation on the FSHR gene, but testing to confirm is not covered by my insurer, so I wait until I can afford such a test for the sake of my own daughters). Finding your blog about vaccines in my facebook newsfeed this morning and then discovering that your passion for science led you to study genetic history has turned what was otherwise a pretty crappy morning, into a refreshing one.

    Thank you for being you.

    Posted by February Rain | March 27, 2014, 10:20 am
  10. just read your vaccine article. what you said makes some sense but why is my unvaccinated child a threat to a child thats supposed to have the best defense against those deadly diseases? Isn’t that why the child got the vaccine in the first place? To protect the child from the virus? Just asking. Make sure what doing and saying ethical. Im not a religious person but messing with genetics is a slippery slope. You might think your doing the right thing but what are the interests of the people funding your research? Whats their endgame?

    Posted by conspiracy nut! | April 4, 2014, 8:50 pm
    • My research is mostly funded by the National Science Foundation, which funds basic research (http://www.nsf.gov/). I think the rest of your questions have been answered several times over in the comments on the post!

      Posted by Jennifer Raff | April 8, 2014, 1:20 pm
    • In case you didn’t click, I’ll explain. This isn’t like a car seat, where only your own kid is at risk. Your unvaccinated child is a bioweapon aimed at: babies (too young for certain shots), chemo patients, other immunosuppressed adults, and, of course, people who got the vaccine but for them it simply didn’t “take”. (That’s between about 5% and 30% depending on which vaccine.) These people did the best they could. We can protect them by making sure their risk is minimized, by vaccinating ourselves.

      Posted by Andrew Lazarus | April 24, 2014, 3:36 am
  11. http://mynaturesmedicine.com/2014/04/04/baby-monkeys-develop-autism-symptoms-after-getting-popular-childhood-vaccines/

    yeah, you are in a lab and just giving and “honest opinion”. yeah, I trust you. LOL

    Posted by Wendy | April 4, 2014, 9:02 pm
    • Anonymous, Wendy: I’m giving an informed opinion BECAUSE I work in a lab and I understand how science works. That article you’re spamming my “About me” page with is pure pseudoscientific nonsense…it doesn’t even link to the study it claims to be reporting on!

      Posted by Jennifer Raff | April 17, 2014, 9:55 am
  12. Do you have children?

    Posted by Anonymous | April 4, 2014, 10:58 pm
  13. my simple question for you- prevention is better than cure but why do most doctors stay in their clinic/hospital and work on just cure. Thomas edison also raised this matter in one of his quotes – ‘The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.’
    Your response will be well appreciated.

    Posted by ywwp | April 6, 2014, 11:11 pm
  14. Your vaccine post is clearly going viral. It is refreshing to read your perspective. What a boost of information for those who are confused about the misinformation! Parents making decisions are scared. It is my hope that those who are making vaccine decisions or choose not to vaccinate will trust science and history over the lies they are told.

    Posted by Lisa Lewis, MD | April 7, 2014, 12:13 am
  15. I enjoy this page and if its purpose was to bring the rational and irrational in proximity, it has succeeded admirably. I trust the slings and arrows directed at you do not faze you. At my age Wu Style Tai Chi is about all I can muster. I do enjoy bringing my telescope to Sci-Fi and Fantasy Conventions and try and show that factual information can be breathtaking too.

    Posted by Patrick McDonald | April 7, 2014, 1:30 pm
  16. Where did you get the sick Science club picture with the crossed pipettes?

    Posted by Matt | April 7, 2014, 6:42 pm
  17. Look what popped up! I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this rebuttal. http://www.livingwhole.org/dear-parents-are-you-being-lied-to/
    Why oh why is there such a plethora of information that seems to contradict itself? I sent your article to an anti-vaxxer and she sent this link back.

    Posted by Deanna | April 8, 2014, 9:42 pm
  18. Can you email me at David.Crowe@theinfectiousmyth.com so I can set up an interview?

    Posted by David Crowe | April 9, 2014, 6:20 pm
  19. Hi! I just read your vaccine article, which was really interesting. In one of my psychology classes we went through the horrors surrounding the MMR vaccine and the incredibly flawed study that caused it. I’m currently studying physics, but genetics is horrifically interesting and I look forward to better educating myself and reading more of your blog!

    Posted by kellyugenometry | April 9, 2014, 8:35 pm
  20. Do you receive funding from any pharmaceutical companies?

    Posted by Ken robbins | April 11, 2014, 6:51 am
  21. Dear Jennifer I read your article on Huffpost and really appreciated it.Then I read someone attacking you on Facebook and I replied and defended science against homeopathic medicine instead of vaccination. I was thoroughly attacked for my note.
    They said you are a techinician..:) I said no, you have a mile long REsume and published scientific papers.. . thank you for the article.

    Posted by maria fenyvesi | April 15, 2014, 11:35 am
    • Haha, well, there’s no shame in being a technician. Technicians are incredible and valuable contributors to science, and they don’t get nearly as much credit as they should. I was one about 6 years ago, before I went on to grad school–but you’re right, I’m not one now.
      Thank you, and I’m very sorry about the negativity directed your way.

      Posted by Jennifer Raff | April 15, 2014, 11:42 am
  22. In your article http://violentmetaphors.com/2014/03/25/parents-you-are-being-lied-to/
    Can you provide your thoughts on circumcision? After AAP updated their stance and guidance in 2012 it should be something considered a medical benefit. We are fighting the anticirc activists who are providing misinformation and guilt saying that parents are mutilating their children. In fact circumcision has many medical benefits and our tax dollars are being spent in the PEPFAR to help circumcise Africa because of medical needs. Those are clear signs we need to incorporate it into standard care and medical checklists for newborn boys.




    Posted by Fairfax Parent | April 17, 2014, 10:05 am
  23. I am inspired that this blog attracting so much interest in the topic of pseudoscience, and I’m also hopeful that the new education standards in this country will move us away from the epidemic of pseudoscience that is rampant in our culture today. The Next Generation Science Standards focus heavily on developing critical thinking skills in our young people. These standards are focused in 4 main areas –

    1. Ask Questions
    2. Construct Explanations
    3. Engage in argument from evidence
    4. Obtain, evaluate and communicate information

    If we can get teachers and students to be fluent in these practices, we are all in for a better future and one that is truly grounded in science to address issues like vaccines in the realm of scientific thinking.

    Posted by Carol Blanchette | April 30, 2014, 11:14 pm
  24. Shees you’d probably beat the crap out of me.

    Posted by Gugu | June 1, 2014, 5:35 pm
  25. Dear Dr. Raff,
    I just read your article on vaccines and it’s awesome! May I translate it to Spanish (I’m from Mexico, currently living in Argentina). Please contact me!

    Posted by Nadia Orozco | June 1, 2014, 7:51 pm
  26. Jennifer, I love your writing and think you should do joint webcasts and Youtube videos with intros by Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson! You have clarity, balance, objectivity, a great breadth of knowledge…and your writings are a delightful compelling read. Thank you for doing science such a great public service!

    Posted by JohnS | June 2, 2014, 7:32 am
  27. Dear Jennifer,
    Thank you so much for your continuous work to educate people. I am fully vaccinated myself and planning on vaccinating my children, though with the immunization programm in my country – it’s not as extensive as the one in US.

    But I do have a question. Honestly I’ve gone through the plethora of comments – some more entertaining than others – in at least one of your articles but I haven’t found a scientific answer to this. I understand there are different strains of viri and bacteria. Measles, polio etc. Do they ones in MMP vaccine mutate quickly, are there many strains of them? Are some of them more or less dangerous, or contageous? And my most important question really is, are the vaccines attuned to compensate for these strains if they do mutate?

    These questions were raised after reading https://sites.google.com/site/vaccineillusion/polio-and-rotavirus
    not sure how valid you think this site is?

    Again, thanks for your efforts.

    Posted by Natasha | June 2, 2014, 4:19 pm
  28. Your post about vaccines was run in Aftenposten, one of Norways most read newspapers today, translated to Norwegian. Thank you for an excellent article.

    Posted by Roy Vetaas | June 4, 2014, 1:36 pm
  29. Thanks for your work. Both in academia and with this blog. It is nice to know that there are scientists out there who like MMA and practice it too. I am headed back to school to pursue microbiology and I train 10th planet JJ. There is nothing like critical thinking, BJJ and biological science. Except for the other sciences; or my soon to be PhD girlfriend, she inspires me to train and study hard. I can’t wait to explore this blog between Dean Lister and Ryan Hall instructional videos.

    Posted by Gunther Ulvanget | June 21, 2014, 4:55 pm
  30. I nominated you for an Inspiring Blogger award. Congratulations!! Check it out at: http://urbandoctormom.com/2014/07/04/the-inspiring-blogger-award/

    Posted by Dr. Mom | July 4, 2014, 2:11 pm
  31. When people like Bill Gates push vaccinations one day and speak of population control the next I have no choice but to question the industry. I am all for keeping our children safe and I underatand the underlying need for immunization, but do you not think the program could be jacked by those who believe the world is over-populated? I have read publications by heads of pharm companies and previous WHO leaders where they openly advocate culling the population 90%. Does that raise a red flag in your opinion?

    Posted by Darrin | September 20, 2014, 10:34 pm
    • “I have read publications by heads of pharm companies and previous WHO leaders where they openly advocate culling the population 90%. Does that raise a red flag in your opinion?”

      Do share. Please provide the links to those publications.

      Mostly what I have read is that when women get an education and know that their children have a chance to live to adulthood they no longer have a dozen kids, hoping a few will live to adulthood. My own grandmother was from a family of five kids, but both brothers died before they started first grade.

      Do you seriously want us to go back when two out of five kids in a family never get to grow up?

      Posted by Chris | September 21, 2014, 12:53 am
  32. Ms Jennifer Raff, I ‘ve read your articles and I admire your job. Are you a biologist? Because I study biology and I’m very interesting in antropology and genetics and I wonder if I can occupy with these!

    Posted by Dimitra Paggea | September 20, 2014, 11:11 pm
  33. Your article on vaccines has some huge holes not the least of which is you post no science or fact just your opinion which does not jibe with the facts. Please address, these facts and write an article on the legal process which has been set up and used numerous times to recover for the damages caused.http://vran. org/about-vaccines/general-issues/doctors-speak/the-truth-behind-the-vaccine-cover-up/

    Posted by Anonymous | September 22, 2014, 12:20 pm
  34. Jennifer – I have been following your blog for a few months now, since you provide credible sources and a fresh scientific perspective. I would be very interested if you were to blog about the most recent “Anti-GMO” craze. I am so tired of seeing people spouting “NO to GMO” without citing any credible sources or facts. And it’s getting worse by the day. I do not have a masters or a PhD, but I do understand the scientific method and it is so frustrating seeing the pseudoscience behind their arguments and how it gets passed along and mutated and carried by the lemmings.

    Posted by candiedchristine | October 10, 2014, 7:33 pm
  35. Dr. Raff, I deeply appreciate your work in this blog. It’s heartening to see someone explain actual science so very clearly.

    Thanks, and keep up the great work!

    Best regards,

    Daniel Gunter

    Posted by Son of Sharecroppers | October 19, 2014, 9:08 pm
  36. From a fellow (genome) biologist. I’m just reading your post via IFLS and I felt obliged to say: thank you. Thank you for putting your time aside to do it, thank you for making sure it was accessible to anybody, and thank you for linking every shred of evidence you mention.
    I hope you’ve saved a few lives. Keep up the good work!

    Posted by whatboywhatgirl | January 12, 2015, 6:19 pm
  37. Outstanding blog. You have a new follower

    Posted by Scott | January 13, 2015, 11:00 am
  38. PLEASE READ THIS…EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! I just read a lengthy article you wrote abt vaccines. I do agree there is benefit to many of the long standing vaccines, like mmr, polio, etc. I have been a Community Health Nurse for 12 years, so I can say that I do have an educated, scientific background.
    In 1996, I heard abt this chickenpox vaccine, and since I never had the disease, and often had to move my shingles patients to another nurse, I decided to research this vaccine. So I did, and then decided to get it. Within 14 days, I developed back pain. That pain gradually progressed, ( all the while in PT,) to the point of unbearable. I was sent to the hospital by my MD, and within 20 min. of being there, I was paralyzed from the waist down! All due to the Varicella Virus going to my spinal cord and leaving a 4 inch long, excrutiating lesion! Long, long story short, if I had researched, ” Transverse Myelitis” associated w the Chicken Pox Vaccine, I would NEVER have gotten this vaccine! It changed my life forever!
    When I read your article, and it spoke of the ” MILD SIDE EFFECTS” assoc. w vaccines, I dare you to spend even 1day paralyzed, and tell me how ” mild” it feels! There are, in fact, so many VACCINE INJURIES in this country that the government has set up a VACCINE ADVERSE EVENT REPORTING SYSTEM…..VAERS, to be exact! While you ask people to research how great these vaccines are, to be fair, why don’t you educate YOURSELF on the injuries they do cause!

    Posted by Lori Siuda | January 13, 2015, 11:55 am
    • That is terrible! How often does that severe side affect happen? How common is transverse myelitis? Can it also be caused by actually getting a viral infection?

      Also, how did your claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program go? I am checking the statistics from 2006 to 2014 and see that there were twenty five compensated claims during that eight year period, out of at least 82 million doses. I can assume your case is one of the twenty five.

      Posted by Chris | January 13, 2015, 12:42 pm


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Jennifer Raff

Jennifer Raff

In pursuit of the extraordinary

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