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ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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Click here for Mayim’s profile.

America has loved Mayim Bialik for a very long time. First as the title character on

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Blossom , and then as the fantastically weird and lovable Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory , Mayim has been a welcome guest in our living rooms for the better portion of her life.

And this past year Mayim received an Emmy nomination for her work on Big Bang (just like Secret Life, Mayim lost at the Emmys, but we think she probably got a nicer gift bag than we did – at least, we hope so). Yet even with this high level of celebrity, Mayim has absolutely none of the affectations of celebrity. In fact, she told Vanity Fair that on the morning the Emmy nominations were announced…

Mayim in her “secret life” on The Big Bang Theory.

“…I was so certain I wasn’t being nominated that I had a phone interview about breastfeeding awareness scheduled at the time the announcements were being made. I was staying with my best friend in Atlanta. She has a newborn and a three-year-old, and I had my two boys with me. We were planning to take the kids to Legoland.”

Now how does this happen? We’re used to hearing about former child stars in the news when they rob convenience stores or enter rehab for the 512th time. How can the woman who was Blossom for all those years of her childhood be so completely grounded?

Well, we think it has a lot to do with how Mayim sees herself. And oh yeah, maybe it has something to do with science, too. Mayim explained to us:

“When I think about what my self-identity is, or what I identify as, I’m proud personally that I’m a mother. But in terms of societal standards of success or prestige, I’m super proud that I have a PhD in Neuroscience, especially because I come from an immigrant family. My grandparents went to night school when they immigrated from Eastern Europe. They never had a command of the English language. You know, to have a PhD in Neuroscience, especially from as fine a university as UCLA, I think that’s mostly what I’m proud of when I think of myself. I’m pretty shy about my acting world, I think, because I did it when I was a teenager, and I’m just kind of a shy person. So yeah, I think of my PhD as what I guess I put out there. And I feel like once you tell someone you’re a scientist, it tells them a lot about you in a positive way… meaning you may not want to talk to me about reality television, because I don’t watch any of it. However, if you want to talk about the universe, or if you’d like to know about your grandfather with Parkinson’s, we can talk about that. I get that a lot.”

So Mayim’s identity as a scientist continues to be a huge part of her life, even as she also lives the life of a Hollywood actress. But what does that identity really mean to her, not just in other people’s eyes, but in terms of how she experiences her own world everyday?

“To be a scientist is to be in love with the properties of the world. I can’t help but look at it like that. It’s like being in love with every aspect of the universe.”

It’s Valentine’s Day, folks. And we love Mayim.

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.