Pembrokian Katerina Johnson Wins Stellar Book Deal with Penguin


Congratulations to Pembroke alumna Dr Katerina Johnson (2011, Biological Sciences & 2014, DPhil in Interdisciplinary Bioscience) who recently secured an exceptional book deal with Penguin to publish her debut book, Gut Feelings.

Gut Feelings is a popular science book unravelling the intimate connection between our gut and brain, covering everything from our emotions, decisions and instincts to our cravings, memories and social lives. Katerina, who is a Research Associate with the Department of Psychiatry in Oxford and a science communicator, explains her journey towards this project: “My undergraduate studies opened my eyes to all corners of the biological world, with an excellent College tutor in Professor Nick Kruger, and I never looked back.  For my DPhil and subsequent research, I have sought to combine my background in biology and evolution with the psychological sciences to understand the science behind gut feelings.”

Remarkably, the book was sold to Penguin within 24 hours of submission in a significant six-figure pre-emptive deal – and soon afterwards, rights were sold to Simon & Schuster in USA for an equally impressive sum and it was selected as America’s publishing ‘Deal of the Day’. Katerina’s book was also hot-listed for the International Book Fair where it was reported as one of the “buzziest” titles and translation rights have been sold worldwide, with her book set to be published in at least a dozen languages.

Discussing her achievement, Katerina shares: “I’m honoured to work with such revered publishers and couldn’t have wished for a better home for my book. My hope is that my book brings the beauty of science to the public in a way that not only sparks wonder, but helps us better understand ourselves and how we can tap into the extraordinary connections between our gut and brain.”

On striking the deal, the publisher commented “I just had to listen to my gut when I read Gut Feelings – it’s rare to find a book that offers us something new and profound about our bodies and how we are”. Katerina’s agent added: “I’ve never had a book elicit a response quite so immediate and so intense as this one.  It’s not surprising, Gut Feelings is so abundantly full of both wonder and insight.”

Katerina has previously been featured in the Pembrokian for her role in public engagement and was awarded Pembroke’s Collingwood Prize for fostering the academic life of the College and leadership in the broader academic world. “Having spent the best part of a decade at Pembroke College, I regard it as my second home,” she says. “It was during my DPhil here that I began giving talks to the public and enjoyed engaging with the media and journalists. Alongside my research, I’ve since continued my endeavours in science communication, including my TEDx talk, and I relish this opportunity with the book to tell the story of gut feelings and to change people’s perspectives.”

Gut Feelings is scheduled for publication early 2026 in hardback, e-book and audiobook, with a paperback version set to follow.

Right: Dr Katerina Johnson in front of a microphone with the BBC logo on it. Left: the Penguin logo.