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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

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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: Mika McKinnon

Mika McKinnon has two words for women considering science: Do it! The geophysicist and Exchange science consultant is enthusiastic about how much fun science is, and that more women should be getting involved. McKinnon previously consulted for the Stargate franchise (before she joined The Exchange’s expert database), so we asked some questions about her experiences on set, as well as what science-fiction technology she wants and what messages she has to share with future scientists and entertainers.

Scientist Spotlight: Jennifer Greenhall

Jennifer Greenhall is no stranger to science. The neuroscientist and Exchange consultant is the daughter of a NASA engineer and spent her childhood surround by astronauts, scientists, and engineers who helped build her love of science. Her interest in neuroscience began in high school and followed her to the University of California, San Diego, where she studied the aging brain. Recently, we caught up with Greenhall to ask her a few questions about her work for The Exchange, if science consulting matters, and what message she wants to share with future scientists and filmmakers.

Scientist Spotlight: Sean M. Carroll

Sean M. Carroll has invented time travel. How do we know?

Scientist Spotlight: Ralph J. Cicerone

Is it ironic that the President of the National Academy of Sciences had very little interest in science as a child? We think so, but then again, the science bug bit Ralph J. Cicerone at the right time. The former President of the American Geophysical Union and current President of the National Academy of Sciences  is an accomplished scientist (and engineer!) with an intimidating biography, which includes guiding and supporting The Science & Entertainment Exchange (The Exchange).

Scientist Spotlight: Donna Nelson

There is an important message behind the story of how Donna Nelson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, became the science adviser for Breaking Bad: do not ever think your volunteering will not make a difference. After a plea for assistance from the producer of Breaking Bad appeared in Chemical & Engineering News, Nelson decided to volunteer in the hope of showing more accurate science on television. She became the lone volunteer out of the magazine’s 165,000 subscribers.

Scientist Spotlight: Randii Wessen

Normally, asking a person, “Why would aliens want to attack Earth?” would result in a bumbling, confused answer. But pose the same question to Randii Wessen, Deputy Manager of the Project Formulation Office at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and you will receive a precise answer: aliens would not bother to attack our puny planet. True, as a consultant for The Exchange, Wessen has had some practice answering that question, but the point is he has taken the time to form a rational answer.

Scientist Spotlight: Stuart Sumida

Stuart Sumida’s career is one wild ride – literally. The paleontologist and animal anatomy consultant for animated films helped design a scary Yeti for the Expedition Everest attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. How did Sumida go from professor of paleontology to adviser for The Lion King, How to Train Your Dragon, and other animated flicks?

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