Big Brains

23 EpisodesProduced by UChicago Podcast Network

Some of the biggest discoveries and insights changing our world for the better have happened at the University of Chicago. Meet the pioneering thinkers behind those big ideas on "Big Brains." Their stories will change how you see the world.

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Simple Solutions To Address Social Issues with Harold Pollack (Ep. 19)

February 18th, 2019


University of Chicago Professor Harold Pollack may be famous for his “financial index card”, but it’s his application of simple solutions to complex …

What We’re Getting Wrong About Millennials With Cathy Cohen (Ep.18)

February 4th, 2019


Every election year, poll after poll tries to predict where millennials stand politically. But Prof. Cathy Cohen of the University of Chicago says …

What Ripples in Space-Time Tell Us About the Universe with Daniel Holz (Ep. 17)

January 21st, 2019


All around us in the universe, stars and black holes are smashing into each other with tremendous force. These events are so powerful that they …

Vietnam and the Rise of the White Power Movement with Kathleen Belew (Ep. 16)

January 7th, 2019


The revelation for historian Kathleen Belew came while researching a 1979 anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in Greensboro, North Carolina that turned deadly …

Big Brains: Back in 2019

December 23rd, 2018


Seasons Greetings! Big Brains will return in January 2019 with some very exciting guests.

Until that time, we encourage you to go back and listen to some of our previous episodes — especially if you missed our first …

Climate Change’s Human Cost With Michael Greenstone (Ep. 15)

December 10th, 2018


As climate change continues to stir concern and debate around the world, Prof. Michael Greenstone knows the importance of using his research to better explain the connection between the environment, health and global …

David Axelrod on Why ‘Democracy is Messy’ and the Future of Politics (Ep. 14)

November 26th, 2018


David Axelrod departed Washington, D.C. because he knew it’d be hard to top his role in helping Barack Obama make history.

But when the president’s …

How Talk Builds Babies’ Brains with Dana Suskind (Ep. 13)

November 12th, 2018


When Prof. Dana Suskind first began implanting devices called cochlear implants on babies who couldn’t hear, she quickly noticed something about her …

What Makes Us Uniquely Human with Neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri (Ep. 12)

October 29th, 2018


Neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri wants to do the near impossible: map the entire human brain.

That means identifying each of the trillions of neural connections that exist inside the mind—a number bigger than the stars in …

From Sci-Fi to Reality, Quantum Technology with David Awschalom (Ep. 11)

October 15th, 2018


David Awschalom is one of the world’s leading scientists studying the growing field of quantum engineering, turning what was once in the realm of …

Future of Higher Education and College Access with Robert J. Zimmer (Ep. 10)

October 1st, 2018


As president of the University of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer has a unique view to the challenges and opportunities facing higher education, and one of the biggest obstacles he sees is access for all students. While …

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

September 17th, 2018


UChicago Law professor Claudia Flores has spent a career advocating for human rights of vulnerable populations around the world, from East Timor to …

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

September 5th, 2018


UChicago Law professor Geoffrey Stone has an intimate knowledge of the Supreme Court.

From his time as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan where he witnessed the decision Roe v. Wade firsthand, to …

Special University of Chicago Convocation Podcast featuring Valerie Jarrett and Marianne Bertrand

June 12th, 2018


A special Convocation edition podcast from the UChicago Podcast Network, featuring the full speeches given by Class Day speaker Valerie Jarrett, …

Special University of Chicago Convocation Podcast with Student Speaker Andrea Popova

June 12th, 2018


A special Convocation edition podcast from the UChicago Podcast Network, featuring an interview with student speaker Andrea Popova, followed by the …

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

June 4th, 2018


Richard Thaler has been dubbed one of the "founding fathers" of behavioral economics, bridging the gap between psychology and economics, and in 2017 …

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

May 21st, 2018


When UChicago alumnus Michael Polsky first ventured into the field of renewable energy in 2003 with his company Invenergy, he thought they had missed …

The Expanding Universe with Wendy Freedman (Ep. 5)

May 14th, 2018


Wendy Freedman spent part of her career measuring the age of the universe. Now she’s working on a project that may very well give scientists a chance …

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

May 7th, 2018


From the smallest proteins of cells to entire ecosystems, nature might be the most sophisticated engineer on earth.

Researchers like UChicago …

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

April 30th, 2018


To say Augusta Read Thomas is prolific is an understatement.

A past Grammy Award winner and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, Thomas has been …

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

April 23rd, 2018


Health care expansion. It's one of the most contentious issues in American politics. Katherine Baicker is Dean of the Harris School at the University …

Discovering the Missing Link with Neil Shubin (Ep. 1)

April 16th, 2018


Evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin spent six years in the Arctic searching for a fossil that could be a missing link between sea and land animals. In …

Big Brains Trailer

April 5th, 2018


Big Brains tells the stories behind the pioneering research and breakthroughs reshaping our world. The show is produced out of the University of …

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