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
Given that she specifically asked that folks in the audience NOT record her talk (so she could be more honest in her talk), I really hope that UBM does NOT have an MP3 of her complete talk. In any case, I found this one of the best, fun, light-hearted, wimsical, warm, heart-felt, and funny general talks I've listened to in a very long time. Yes, I like her character. Yes, we share a cultural heritage. And yes, I love the show. But the talk really was worth attending. Wish I was one of the lucky 25 or so that got to actually meet her after her talk. UBM, thanks for inviting her!
I think it would be useful for those who disparage her choice to be an actress instead of a research scientist if UBM cold post an MP3 recording of her complete talk, so those folks who write from ignorance might be enlightened. I, for one, think her talk was quite appropriate as a keynote address, and I was there.
You know, while I keep hearing how science and engineering are not perceived as "cool," I've never given that a second thought. Assuming it's even true, I thought science was "cool" ever since grade school.
What's not cool is stupid people. So fundamentally, who cares what stupid people think? How has that ever mattered? That's what I don't get. Why do we obsess over the preferences of dimwits?
While I'm sure she was paid to speak, I never once heard her ask for funding or subsidies.
She was talking about how she got in to the sciences.
I for one want to see more women in science and engineering. There is nothing about the male mind that makes it inherently superior in engineering and science.
Our cultural biasing starts very young when we give our girls tea sets, easy bake ovens and Barbie while we give our boys Lego, remote control cars and GI Joe.
I like smart women and there aren't nearly enough who make their way through life on their brains.
What ever you think of her current career choice, she didn't get her job because of her ass.
She is a spokesman because she is visible on a very popular TV show and a positive role model (at least in contrast to the neurotic males and ditzy blonde).
By the way, I've never heard anyone complain when a guy gets an engineering degree on full scolarship and then decides to go into pro football.
Professions are not inherently honorable, people are individually honorable. We see that whether its law physics, or engineering.
Most engineers have no desire to make a living on a sit-com. I'm not sure where you cam up with this putative objective statement.
Just because you endorse and respect Stem makes it neither objectively effective nor desirable. Please stop putting for your own personal predilections and affections as consensus inspired wisdom.
Its also completely inappropriate to have a non-engieer, comedy TV actor actress be a keynote speaker for an engineering convention. Apparently some of you think very little of your vocation to endorses such misplaced good intentions, just because it fits you political agenda or subjective world view. I wonder if the next AMA convention will have a fake doctor from Greys anatomy on giving non-sequitor speeches and be praised for their insight and intelligence.
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