Dr. Erin M. Schuman
Erin M. Schuman, Ph.D, is an associate professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and an assistant investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She studies the low-level mechanisms of nerve cells: How they signal each other using a variety of molecules, how they alter their own functioning in response to those signals, how they grow and form new connections, and how they organize themselves into networks to process information. In short, she studies the nuts and bolts of "neuroplasticity," or learning.
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Dr. Terrence Sejnowski
Terrence Sejnowski, Ph.D, is a professor of biology and an adjunct professor of physics, neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science and engineering at The University of California at San Diego. He is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and director of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Sejnowski is a leading pioneer of computational neuroscience, and his lab studies the principles that link brain mechanisms, mind and behavior. They use a variety of techniques to study the brain at both low and high levels of description. On one end they study the low-level biophysical properties of individual neurons. On the other, they build large-scale neural network models to help them understand how the brain processes vision, stores memory, coordinates sensation and action, and how it all evolved.
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Dr. Lucy Shapiro
Lucy Shapiro, Ph.D, is director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine at Stanford University and a professor of genetics. Shapiro has made innovative use of microorganisms to shed light on how higher organisms, including humans, develop all their complex organs, tissues and parts starting from a single cell. By studying an unusual bacterium that splits into two different cell types at a certain stage in its life, she made major advances in understanding the genetic and molecular mechanisms behind embryonic development. Her work has also led to better understanding of how proteins move around and perform their work inside cells.
Shapiro also works actively to promote public understanding of science and reduce scientific illiteracy. She is a board member of the Scientists' Institute for Public Information, and gives frequent talks to lay audiences and policy makers. She was invited to the White House to advise President Clinton and his Cabinet about the risks biologically altered pathogens pose to national security and the food supply. Among other issues, Shapiro educates people about breast cancer policies and science, and has also spoken out about the alarming levels of resistance which bacteria are developing to antibiotics.
Shapiro is co-founder of Anacor, a pharmaceutical company that is working to develop new treatments for microbial infection to compensate for the waning effectiveness of present-day antibiotics. She also sits on the board of directors of GlaxoSmithKline, a research-based pharmaceutical company.
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Dr. Michael Shermer
Michael Shermer, Ph.D, is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and the director of the Skeptics Society -- both large, international venues for defending the scientific method and refuting the claims of pseudoscience, religion and mysticism. Shermer is the author of four books, including: Why People Believe Weird Things; How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science; and The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense. He has also co-authored a number of books, including Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?, and is a monthly columnist for Scientific American. Shermer also used to be a competitive transcontinental cyclist, and is the author of several books on cycling.
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Dr. Robert J. Temple
Robert J. Temple, M.D., is associate director for medical policy at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, which is part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Center is responsible for regulating the claims of drug makers and for assessing the quality of clinical trials with new medical treatments. Temple has held many important positions at the FDA over the years and is an expert in pharmaceutical regulation and research.
Dr. Mark Jude Tramo
Mark Tramo, M.D., Ph.D, is an assistant professor of neurology and director of The Institute for Music & Brain Science at Harvard Medical School. He is also an assistant attending neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as a composer. Tramo studies the neural basis of music perception and cognition in infants and adults. He looks for the brain areas and patterns of neural activity associated with melody, harmony, rhythm, the emotions they evoke, and the universal elements that are found in the music of all cultures.
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Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D, is director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He is also a visiting research scientist in astrophysics at Princeton University, where he also teaches. Tyson's professional research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. He works to educate the public about cosmology through his writings and lectures. Tyson has written many professional publications and is a monthly essayist for Natural History magazine. He has authored and co-authored several books, including The Sky is Not the Limit, One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos, Merlin's Tour of the Universe -- which has been translated into several languages -- Exploring the Invisible: Art, Science, and the Spiritual and a playful Q&A book on the universe for all ages titled Just Visiting This Planet. Tyson's contributions to the public appreciation of the cosmos have recently been recognized by the International Astronomical Union in their official naming of asteroid "13123 Tyson". In 2000, People Magazine declared Tyson "the sexiest astrophysicist alive."
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Dr. K. Birgitta Whaley
Birgitta Whaley, Ph.D., is a professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley. She studies the properties of "quantum clusters" -- ultra-tiny assemblages of atoms or molecules that are too large to be studied with ordinary chemistry techniques, but too small to be studied with traditional bulk-manipulation methods. Quantum clusters have unique energetic, structural and dynamical properties, and understanding them will be crucial to the development of "quantum computers." Quantum computers take advantage of the bizarre fact that atoms and electrons are able to exist in multiple, mutually exclusive states simultaneously. They have not yet been built on any useful scale, but they will one day far outpace the digital computer in certain kinds of computation.
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