In 2015 he received a Journalism Fellowship from the Santa Fe Institute and in 2016 was given an appointment as a Miller Scholar there. As reported in the official announcement, “The Miller Distinguished Scholarship is the most prestigious visiting position at SFI, awarded to highly accomplished, creative thinkers who make profound contributions to our understandings of society, science, and culture. Scholars are internally nominated and may have backgrounds in the humanities, arts, or sciences. During their stays at SFI, Miller Scholars are free to devote their time to exploration of any topic.” His appointment as an SFI Miller Scholar was renewed for 2017, 2018, and 2019.
After reading in neuroscience for several years, he wrote the best-selling book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why and its sequel Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience, which attempt to answer related questions about how people make bad decisions and what leads some of them to survive and some to perish.
His most recent non-fiction book is Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival, a detailed reconstruction of the crash of a fully-loaded DC-10. It was adapted for the stage by The House Theater of Chicago and played to sold-out houses and rave reviews in both 2016 and 2017. It also had successful runs in both Boulder, Colorado, and Miami, Florida.
For more than a decade and a half, he has appeared as a featured speaker before groups ranging from the Los Alamos National Laboratory to Exxon-Mobil, and from the Wilderness Medical Society to the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
His most recent novel is Lucy (Alfred A. Knopf). His essays are collected in the books House of Pain and The Chemistry of Fire (both from University of Arkansas Press). In the past he has served on the adjunct faculty at Northwestern University in the Medill School of Journalism, where he taught writing.
He divides his time between Evanston, Illinois, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.