Mayim Bialik, who stars on hit sitcom, also happens to hold a PhD in neuroscience and is passionate about the importance of STEM education.
In her early years attending
public schools in Los Angeles, Bialik said she was not initially drawn
to science and that science and math did not come easy for her. "From a
very early age, I got the message that I wasn't cut out to be a science
person at all," Bialik said.
Bialik said she initially enjoyed
geometry—she found something about it very beautiful—but that that
didn't come easily to her, either, and was never something she thought
she would study in greater detail.
"I got the message from the
culture in my schools that if something doesn't come easily to you that
means you are not good at it. I don't believe that's true," Bialik said.
Inspired by role model
some success in show business—she appeared in several television series
before being cast as the young Bett Midler in the movie Beaches and
eventually getting her own TV show, Blossom—Bialik said she ended up
doing a lot of her school by working one on one with a tutor. The tutor,
a woman in her early 20s who was attending dental school at the time,
changed Bialik's life. The tutor was the first young woman in Bialik's
life who was passionate about science.
"This was the woman that
gave me the skill set and the confidence and passion to believe that I
could be a scientist," Bialik said.
Bialik ended up at UCLA,
where she studied all the way through receiving her PhD. She considered
several disciplines before ultimately settled on neurology after she
"feel in love" with the neuron.
"To anyone who has ever fallen
in love with the neuron, it's a powerful experience," Bialik quipped.
She engaged in light-hearted banter with questioners in the audience of
mostly engineers that "neuroscience is the best science."
completing her PhD, Bialik considered a career in academia or research.
Ultimately, though, she chose to go back into acting to allow her to
spend more time with her sons, a decision she called intensely personal.
Asked if she was optimistic that the many efforts underway to
encourage more young people to pursue STEM education and careers would
lead to measurable change in a cultural that most often glamorizes other
things, Bialik responded that she was "optimistic, but also realistic."
in her role as a TI spokeswoman and in other opportunities she has to
promote STEM—such as the DESIGN West keynote—she is able to inspire a
handful of young students or teachers that can in turn inspire others
the way her tutor inspired her, Bialik believes she will have made a
Wait for the ramifications of this. Soon being camera-friendly will be a filter for invited STEM presentations and representatives. The substance of STEM - by this very highlighting of how show business could save STEM - has now taken the way back seat to style.
Agree Rick! It is refreshing to see some one like her message STEM for girls. We at IEEE recently started Women in Engineering chapter recently in Silicon Valley and I hope Ms. Bialik accepts to speak there one of these days!
I love the Big Bang Theory show. After a day at work as an engineer I like to sit in front of the TV and enjoy an episode. I also attended the Design West 2013 conference and deliberately did not attend this particular speech. Most likely the speech was good and I am sure the presentation was good. I do not want to judge Mayim personal carrier choices.
I did not attend the speech because I doubt its motivational value. I have kids and know that you cannot smoke in front of them and explain that smoking is bad for your health. They are not going to listen to you, but rather do what you do – they will smoke.
On Design West conference I expect to see people with experience in the industry that are willing to share their ideas. Mayim may have a good experience in the show business but I doubt she can influence anybody in the industry.
I saw a movie one of the evenings after the conference. It cost me only $10, not the $2000 I paid for the conference.
The fact is she's trying to get people excited about engineering. That's the point. I AM HAPPY... You should be too. These are true things she said. She could have a job making socks for ducks for all I care IRL... I use a lot of texas instruments products. I love their processors ( I don't use their DSP chips though)... What kind of crazy person doesn't enjoy seeing shameless promotion of good things? Not everyone has the same hooks to get into the business. I have that series of calculator too. I enjoy TI's product line. In fact the latest device I am purchasing is a HD3SS3415 PCI-X 3.0 switch... And thanks to people like this, there are more people joining the ranks and buying devices so the ecosystem improves, and what I take, becomes easier/more accessible... So if you think WAH WAH doesn't affect me not an engineer. It does, because more people GET INVOLVED... That's the point. Thank you... I'm a man also.
Interesting to notice the kind of reactions observed in this thread. Specially from those who almost felt betrayed by Bialik who had the material to be a true scientist but choose otherwise (I also can relate to that).
But, to say that she chose a less "noble" path (acting over science) sounds a bit arrogant as well. We cannot have good scientists without good educators as well, and those are even harder to come by.
Though she took a PhD that she didn't end up making use of (directly) in the end, she took it anyway even though everyone seemed to point to her that she wasn't cut for it. Isn't that something to be proud of?
When finally faced with a choice between the two paths she followed her heart (I choose to believe so). Is that a bad thing?
Armed with the scientific knowledge from a PhD and the influence of a TV person she really has a lot of potential to influence the world in a positive way, and for that I don't feel in any way that she is wasting her education!
January 2016 Cartoon Caption ContestBob's punishment for missing his deadline was to be tied to his chair tantalizingly close to a disconnected cable, with one hand superglued to his desk and another to his chin, while the pages from his wall calendar were slowly torn away.122 comments