Big Brains

Big Brains

Some of the biggest discoveries and insights changing our world have happened at the University of Chicago. Meet the pioneering thinkers behind those big ideas on the new UChicago podcast series “Big Brains.”

New episodes will appear Mondays throughout Spring Quarter.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts / Stitcher

Episode list

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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Knowledge Applied

A five-episode podcast series from the University of Chicago News Office that takes you inside the research reshaping everyday life.

Meet experts working to make cities happier, healthier and more equitable places to live.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts / Stitcher / RSS


Episode list

Luis Bettencourt, Pritzker Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, discusses his research on complex systems and how he’s combining science and policy and using data to capture “the magic of cities for the common good.”

Charlie Catlett, director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data at UChicago and Argonne, is leading an effort called the Array of Things that aims to install 500 sensor nodes around Chicago and eventually setup a network around the world “to improve living and working in the city.”

Physician-scholar Stacy Lindau shares how she decided to address what she called a “real humanitarian need” by leading a Chicago-area program to help combat hunger called Feed1st. The food pantries benefit families and hospital staff, and the program provides critical data for future medical study.

UChicago environmental psychologist Marc Berman shows that adding trees to a city can have a significant impact on a person’s health and happiness. His findings have shown that even just looking at pictures of nature or hearing nature sounds can have positive cognitive effects.

SSA Assoc. Prof. Matt Epperson discusses the history of mass incarceration, and the social and political changes that have occurred over the last decade that may make this the ideal time to begin shrinking the U.S. prison population.