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I was born in Oakland, California, and grew up in El Cerrito, just north of Berkeley.
A woman of varied talents and interests, I received my PhD in chemical physics and MA in physics, both from Harvard, along with a BS with highest honours in chemistry from UCLA before working as a physics professor until 1990. I've also been a ballerina and have performed with ballets and in musicals on both coasts and in Ohio. In the 1980s I was a principal dancer and artistic director of the Mainly Jazz Dancers and the Harvard University Ballet. After I graduated, my undergraduate students took over Mainly Jazz and made it into an organisation at the college. I still teach ballet today, in Maryland.
My fiction is a successful blend of hard science fiction, romance and exciting space adventure. I’ve had the honour of being nominated for many awards, among those I’ve won are the Nebula Award for best novel of 2001 for The Quantum Rose and the Romantic Times Award for Best SF Novel for both Spherical Harmonic and Ascendant Sun.
My husband is John Kendall Cannizzo, an astrophysicist at NASA. We have one daughter, a young ballet dancer who loves math.