Jen Ottolino

Freelance Writer & Editor


Jen Ottolino is a writer, editor, changemaker, and global adventurer. She has lived and worked on three continents,f in settings ranging from community hospitals, medical schools, and multinational pharmaceutical companies to refugee camps in Greece and rural villages in Tanzania. In 2019, Jen transitioned into full-time writing and editing with a focus on social impact, health, travel, and food. She writes from her renovated farmhouse on Faial, a volcanic island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores.


Writing & Editing: Health

Bright Island Comms
Want a Healthier Brain? Take a Hike

Brisk walks in nature don't just help you stay fit. They may make your brain healthier, too Since the start of the pandemic, it's like the whole world has gone hiking. In the US alone, 58 million people reported going hiking in 2020, around 8 million more than in 2019 according to Statista.

Bright Island Comms
One Epidemiologist's Take on the Increasing Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the US

The CDC has been tracking autism spectrum disorders for several decades, and the numbers keep increasing. Does this mean we are experiencing an autism epidemic? Back in the early 2000s, I helped set up one of the original sites in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM), a group of communities working with the CDC to monitor the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in 8-year-old children in the US.

Bright Island Comms
Five Things That Might Surprise You About Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a potentially disabling disorder that can affect many areas of a person's life. And it's much more common than you may think. If poisonous snakes make you nervous, you can avoid them. Don't poke sticks under rocks in the desert.

Bright Island Comms
Ayahuasca: The Amazon's Most Sacred Plant Medicine

Science is finally catching up to what indigenous shamans have known for thousands of years about ayahuasca. The Amazon rainforest, one of the most biodiverse places on earth, is home to a mind-boggling array of plants and hundreds of indigenous tribes.

Bright Island Comms
"Climb on": How I Reached New Heights Because of My Social Anxiety Disorder

The first step of my recovery from social anxiety disorder may surprise you. A lot. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) goes way beyond shyness. It's a profound, persistent fear of being watched and evaluated in social or performance situations. The third most common mental health condition in the world, it can profoundly disrupt your life if left untreated.

Eidos website
LGBTQ+ Health Disparities

I developed this summary of the current findings on LGBTQ+ health disparities in the US for Eidos at the University of Pennsylvania.

Writing: Travel

Explore Elk Grove
Hiking | Explore Elk Grove

If you appreciate the outdoors, northern California is a dream come true. It has a bit of everything: rugged mountains and coastlines, vineyard-draped

Explore Elk Grove
Parks | Explore Elk Grove

A great thing about Elk Grove is that it combines suburban convenience with lots of green space for outdoor activities.

Writing: Social Impact

Private Client
Tusaidiane Evaluation

Designed and conducted evaluation and developed this final report for stakeholders

American University Online
The Emic and the Etic in Practice: Working with Refugees in Chios, Greece

My professional background is in development, but recently I made my first foray into humanitarian relief, as a volunteer on the island of Chios in Greece. My role was to provide aid to refugees during boat landings and to assist with the preparation and distribution of clothing, food, beverages, and other necessary items in the Souda refugee camp.

Digital Stories, Photography, & Videos

SAIS Perspectives 2014

My photo of a beach in Zanzibar, Tanzania was chosen as the cover photo for this publication of Johns Hopkins SAIS.