From lab to life

Last Updated 06 January 2010, 12:04 IST

In an effort to get students interested in science, technology, engineering and math, MAKE magazine conducted a series of interviews with scientists to uncover their fascination with science and how their passion has shaped their work, individually.
These video interviews, titled Elements of Humanity, are hosted at http://elementsofhumanity.com. They are informal and offer glimpses of scientists that is not often reported in mainstream media.

Achievers all
Those interviewed include Mackenzie Cowell, who is exploring the techniques of synthetic biology which applies the tools and methodologies of engineering and computer science to the field of biology. He is the co-founder of DIYbio.org. You get to meet Theodore Gray, co-founder of Wolfram Research Inc., who studied chemistry before discovering that he was “really good at” computer science; and Bruce Hood, director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre at the University of Bristol and author of the book Supersense. Bruce researches the origins of supernatural beliefs, particularly in children, and how it sheds light on cognitive development. Then, there’s Louise Leakey, a member of the Leakey family who found evidence that put Africa on the map as the place we all came from. A research assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Stony Brook, New York, Leakey is also a National Geographic Explorer in Residence.

Maths can be fun
There’s John Mighton, a mathematician at the Fields Institute in Toronto, who wants to change how we teach maths. He is the founder of JUMP Math (www.jumpmath.org), a programme that is dedicated to improving the teaching of mathematics. He not only believes there is a better way to teach maths but that anyone can learn maths using these methods.

Heart of darkness
The site features an interview with Rebecca Moore,  a computer scientist at Google, who started and now manages the Google Earth Outreach programme. As part of the outreach programme, she has worked with indigenous tribe of the Amazon to help them map their land and protect it from deforestation.  Lynn Rothschild, astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, specialises in using molecular techniques and field work to study the interactions of organisms, known as extremophiles that have adapted to survive the harshest environments on earth.

Swimming with the sharks
Adam Summers, a comparative biomechanist and evolutionary psychologist, is studying the way sharks swim and how they are different from other bony fish in this regard.
In addition to these video interviews, you can watch other interesting videos at http://dow.com.hu on  how people are playing a role to lessen huge environmental impacts, feed several billion mouths, provide the basic needs, and harness the power of the sun.
Do you know of endeavours where people are transforming the way we work and play through the work they do?  The Dow Chemical Company, sponsor of  the Elements of Humanity video series, would be happy to hear from you. Go to http://dow.com.hu for more details.

(Published 06 January 2010, 12:04 IST)

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