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

Quantum technology: From sci-fi to reality with David Awschalom (Ep. 11)

Prof. David Awschalom discusses how quantum technology could lead to breakthroughs in communication, encryption and medicine, and how he’s helping train the next generation of quantum engineers.

Future of higher education and college access with Robert J. Zimmer (Ep. 10)

University of Chicago President Robert J.  Zimmer discusses the state of higher education, providing access for all students and free expression on campuses.

U.S. Immigration and Hidden Abuse with Claudia Flores (Ep. 9)

Legal scholar Claudia Flores discusses her report on the abuse of migrant children, the history and future of immigration policy, and her career as a human rights advocate.

SCOTUS Nears Unimaginable Era with Geoffrey Stone (Ep. 8)

Legal scholar Geoffrey Stone discusses why we are on the verge of an unimaginable era for the Supreme Court, the forgotten history of Roe v. Wade and free expression on college campuses.

Economist’s Journey to the Nobel with Richard Thaler (Ep. 7)

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

Future of Energy Innovation with Michael Polsky (Ep. 6)

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.

The Expanding Universe with Wendy Freedman (Ep. 5)

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.

Nature’s Design Secrets with Rama Ranganathan (Ep. 4)

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.

Mind of a Virtuoso Composer with Augusta Read Thomas (Ep. 3)

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.

Myths of U.S. Health Care with Katherine Baicker (Ep. 2)

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.