Big Brains

Meet the pioneering thinkers behind some of the biggest discoveries changing our world and hear the story of their breakthroughs. 

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Episode List

Richard Thaler

Ep. 7 – Richard Thaler

Richard Thaler discusses how a bowl of cashews inspired his early research, how (and missing) a 4 a.m. Nobel wakeup call from Sweden, and what it was like to act in a movie alongside Selena Gomez.

Michael Polsky

Ep. 6 — Michael Polsky

Alumnus Michael Polsky discusses his early days in the energy field, his current project to build one of the largest wind farms in the world and why he believes in the power of innovation.

Wendy Freedman

Ep. 5 — Wendy Freedman

Prof. Wendy Freedman discusses her research on measuring the age of the universe, her leadership of the Giant Magellan Telescope and the search for life outside our solar system.

Rama Ranganathan

Ep. 4 — Rama Ranganathan

Prof. Rama Ranganathan shares his pioneering research on evolutionary physics, and explains why he believes biology is at a similar point today as engineering was two centuries ago during the Industrial Revolution.

Augusta Read Thomas

Ep. 3 — Augusta Read Thomas

Prof. Augusta Read Thomas gives a glimpse into the creative process of a world-class composer, discusses the state of classical music today and how she helps train the next generation of composers.

Kate Baicker

Ep. 2 – Katherine Baicker

Prof. Katherine Baicker discusses research on the true costs and benefits of expanding health care, dispelling a number of myths, and provides insights into how to improve health care for all.

Neil Shubin

Ep. 1 – Neil Shubin

Prof. Neil Shubin discusses his discovery of Tiktaalik roseae, the 375-million-year-old fossil that was a missing link between sea and land animals—and what it meant for the understanding of human evolution and how it has impacted the future of genetic research.