Nina Burleigh | 2020 Alumni Achievement Award Recipient

Nina BurleighNina D. Burleigh of New York, New York, is a 1984 graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting program who has achieved critical acclaim as an award-winning author, journalist and feminist cultural critic. She is a New York Times best-selling author of six lively, acclaimed works of creative nonfiction. She has written hundreds of works of journalism, essays and book reviews on a wide array of topics including culture, politics, gender issues, science, and the environment. Two of her magazine articles were made into dramatic productions.

Many of her books explore the tension between belief and science, religion and rationality in post-Enlightenment life, including 1830s American politics, among post-revolutionary French scientists in Egypt, Cold War era CIA conspiracy theories, fake Biblical archaeology in Jerusalem today, and the role of faith versus science in an Italian courtroom. Two of her books examine the relationship between art, nature, history, and science. Her book Mirage: Napoleon’s Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt, which tells the story of the scientists and artists behind the first great study of modern Islam and ancient Egypt, was selected by the New York Times as an Editors’ Choice and won the Society of Women Educators’ Award in 2008.

A fellow of the Explorers Club, Burleigh has covered stories on six continents. She has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, published works about the Arctic and the Antarctic; the Amazon, where she wrote an essay about women, nature, and the human culture along the Amazon River in Peru; racism and rhino poaching in South Africa.

She has written cover stories for Newsweek on White House politics and Presidential office holders, Facebook, political big data mining, the #metoo movement, the melting of Antarctica, sea level rise in Florida, asteroid defense schemes and other current events. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Time, New York, The New York Times, Slate and Bustle. She has appeared on Good Morning America, Nightline, The Today Show, 48 Hours, MSNBC, CNN, C-Span, NPR and numerous other radio programs.

Burleigh was a selected to be a writer in residence at the Siena Art Institute in Sienna, Italy; and was selected as a Dora Maar Fellow in the Arts, in Menerbes, France. She’s served as an adjunct professor at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and has lectured around the United States, Italy and Mexico.  During the 2019 fall semester, Burleigh was a visiting lecturer with the Institute for Religion, Philosophy and History at the University of Agder in Norway.

In 2013, Burleigh was inducted into the UIS Bill Miller Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame. In 2015, she was a guest speaker at the University on the topic of Challenges to Americans and American Journalists’ Understanding of the Middle East in the Age of Jihad and ISIS.

Established in 1957, the University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni of the University of Illinois in recognition of those who have attained outstanding success and national or international distinction in their chosen profession or life’s work, and whose accomplishments reflect admirably upon, or bring honor to, their Alma Mater.