Projects

Science of TRON

Listen to audio from the "Science of TRON" panel, featuring director Joe Kosinski, producer Sean Bailey, and science consultants Sean Carroll & John Dick. Learn More

Scientist Spotlight

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Scientist Spotlight: David Saltzberg

For many years, UCLA Professor David Saltzberg has been a leading thinker in particle physics.  Since 2006, he's also had a job title he may never have set out to put on his CV, but has proven hugely rewarding: science consult for the beloved CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory.  Whether it's adventuring in Antarctica, or advising by the camera, he always seems to be doing something story worthy.  We recently caught up with him to ask a few questions about science in entertainment, what it means to have a passion for the most cutting edge physics in the world, and what roles the two may

Scientist Spotlight: John Calkins

When CBS first aired The District in 2000, it was the first time a prime-time television series incorporated a geographic information system (GIS) as a key part of the story with a GIS/crime analyst (Lynne Thigpen). John Calkins, corporate technical evangelist for Esri, helped bring GIS to life in The District, and he continues to assist Hollywood as a volunteer consultant for The Exchange.

Scientist Spotlight: Aaron Blaisdell

Practitioners of science and fiction are both in the business of exploring the question “what if?” For a scientist the question is a hypothesis to be tested, for the fiction storyteller the question is explored in the medium of film or writing. UCLA psychology associate professor and Exchange consultant Aaron Blaisdell takes us on an adventure of animal behavior, what inspires him, and the value of a great story.

Tell us about your background. What inspired you to become an expert on animal behavior? Why is it important to study animal behavior?

Scientist Spotlight: Alice Wessen

Come explore the universe with Alice Wessen, Manager, Solar System Missions Education and Public Outreach at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL)!  Learn about her inspirations, thoughts on science in entertainment, and bringing the JPL missions to life for students and the general public.

Tell us about your background. What inspired you to work at the JPL?

Scientist Spotlight: Paul Weiss

Interested in science from an early age, Paul Weiss’ interest in chemistry started with a bang. His advice to the next generation is to find something that you enjoy so much that you cannot wait to get up in the morning to get going.  He’s the director of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, home of The Exchange. 

Tell us about your background. Were you interested in science as a kid?

Scientist Spotlight: Janet English

Bringing science, entertainment, and education together, Janet English is a science and broadcast journalism teacher in Orange County California. A go-to resource for The Exchange, she has served as director of education services for KOCE-TV, and received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Do you think a show like the The Big Bang Theory, whose characters are modeled after researchers at Caltech, has a positive or negative influence on young people choosing careers in science?

Scientist Spotlight: John Spencer

Many people dream of exploring space, and John Spencer, space architect and Exchange consultant, is working to make that dream a reality.

Tell us about your background. You are an architect, so what sparked your interest in science? How did you end up becoming a space architect/designer?

Scientist Spotlight: Kevin Hand

From exploring the ocean depths with James Cameron, consulting on Thor, and fond memories of Cosmos, Kevin Hand, Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Lab’s deputy chief scientist for solar system exploration, takes us on a science adventure.

Tell us about your background. What inspired you to become an astrobiologist?

Scientist Spotlight: Michel Maharbiz

When most people think of cyborgs they think of edgy science-fiction/fantasy creatures, the stuff of futuristic action movies. Berkeley’s Michel Maharbiz has a different thought: “I can make one of those!” At his  lab, Professor Mahabiz successfully hacked a Nintendo Wii remote and used it to fly a cyborg beetle, but we will let him tell you all about it…

Tell us about your background. What inspired you to become a scientist?

Scientist Spotlight: David Kirby

David Kirby wrote the book on science consulting for TV and film – literally. The molecular biologist turned Senior Lecturer in Science Communication Studies at the University of Manchester became interested in science in film and TV during his time as a professor at American University. His book, Lab Coats in Hollywood, explores the intersection of science and entertainment, with some really great examples that he discusses in the interview below.

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