At the age of nine Trevor released his first book, a story bound with cardboard and yarn that told of a robotic belly-button cleaner gone berserk. In pursuit of writing projects since then Trevor has worked as a commercial fisherman, shadowed chefs in restaurant kitchens, lived in temples among Buddhist priests, wangled his way aboard scientific research ships, and witnessed mass civilian protest and violent military repression. He has written about subjects as diverse as underwater crustacean romance, the racial history of aerial bombing, the molecular structure of rice, the risks of submarine warfare, the scientific debate over the definition of death, the fate of the endangered bluefin tuna, and economic and political transformation in East Asia for publications including The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, Gastronomica, and Transition.
Trevor’s first published book, The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean, began as a centerpiece article in The Atlantic that was included in The Best American Science Writing edited by Oliver Sacks. The Secret Life of Lobsters was a Barnes & Noble Discover Award winner and was named a Best Nature Book of the Year by USA Today and Discover and a Best Book of the Year by Time Out New York, and went on to become a worldwide bestseller in the popular-science category. To research the book Trevor lived on a small island off the Maine coast for two years while working year-round as a crew member on a commercial fishing boat, then spent months hanging around laboratories and digging into zoology archives to immerse himself in the surprising soap opera of decapod mating habits.
Trevor’s second book, The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice, was selected as an Editors’ Choice by The New York Times Book Review; it was also named a Best Food Book of the Year by Zagat and the Best American Food Literature Book of the Year by the Gourmand Awards. To research the book Trevor followed a group of novice American sushi chefs through a grueling apprenticeship, consulted previously untranslated Japanese sources, and spent a bit too much time investigating the fornication techniques of seaweed and the biology of gender-bending fish and shrimp.
Trevor began his career in writing as an editorial assistant at The Atlantic, and went on to serve for three years as the managing editor of the literary journal Transition, published by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Kwame Anthony Appiah at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. During Trevor’s tenure at Transition the journal won three consecutive Alternative Press Awards for International Reporting and was nominated for a National Magazine Award in General Excellence. An essay Trevor wrote for Transition on the science and spirituality of brain death and organ transplantation, titled “The Telltale Heart,” was named a Notable Essay of the Year by Best American Essays.
Trevor teaches writing at Columbia University in New York City, where he is a full-time lecturer and course program co-director in American Studies in the undergraduate writing program in the Department of English. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the graduate program in creative writing at Columbia. In the past he has been an adjunct lecturer in the graduate program in science journalism at Boston University, a visiting writer in the M.F.A. program at the University of Memphis, an adjunct lecturer at The New School, and a faculty member at Brooklyn Friends School. He has taught writing workshops at the Key West Literary Seminar and the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism at Harvard University.
Trevor and his work have been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, ABC World News with Charles Gibson, NPR’s All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation, The Diane Rehm Show, WNYC’s RadioLab, BBC’s Natural Histories and Food Chain, and Food Network’s Iron Chef America, as well as on numerous other television and radio programs and in the press. He is a co-author of the Blue Ocean Institute’s Guide to Ocean-Friendly Sushi, and his educational video Sushi: You’re Doing It All Wrong, produced by CBS, was a finalist for a Digital Ellie award from the American Society of Magazine Editors. For six years Trevor hosted a series of historical sushi dinners, which received wide media coverage, educating diners on the gastronomic and ecological benefits of traditional sustainable seafood.
Trevor has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, a graduate certificate from Columbia University in the philosophy and history of science, and a B.A. from Princeton University. He has been a recipient of a Knight Fellowship at M.I.T. in the Investigative Science Journalism Boot Camp, a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship, and a John Fisher Zeidman Memorial Chinese Studies Fellowship. He is married to the Finnish journalist Anu Partanen.