Big Brains

35 EpisodesProduced by UChicago Podcast NetworkWebsite

We tell the stories behind the pioneering research and pivotal breakthroughs reshaping our world. Change how you see the world. Produced out of The University of Chicago.

35 Episodes | 2018 - 2019

Revolutionizing Economics By Studying People In The Real World With John List

August 12th, 2019


If you’ve played Candy Crush, flown on United Airlines, or taken an Uber or Lyft, you’ve been in one of Prof. John List’s experiments without even …

The Unknown History Of The White Power Movement With Kathleen Belew

July 29th, 2019


We're taking a summer break during July, but we'll be back in August with new episodes telling the stories of leading research with some of the …

The Missing Link In Evolution with Neil Shubin

July 15th, 2019


We're taking a summer break during July, but we'll be back in August with new episodes telling the stories of leading research with some of the …

Guest Show - No Jargon

July 1st, 2019


We're taking a summer break during July, but we'll be back in August with new episodes telling the stories of leading research with some of the …

Trump and the Changing Power of the Presidency with William Howell

June 17th, 2019


If you want to better understand how Trump has forever changed the American presidency, the history of impeachment, or how to fix the dysfunction in our government, it’s best to go to an expert. Prof. William Howell is …

How the Loss of Community Threatens Society With Raghuram Rajan

June 3rd, 2019


UChicago economist Raghuram Rajan became infamous for predicting the 2008 financial collapse three years before it happened.

Rajan says that there …

The Science of Conspiracy Theories And Political Polarization With Eric Oliver

May 20th, 2019


The “birthers”, “Pizzagate”, anti-vaxxers. Since the election of Donald Trump, it’s seemed that belief in conspiracy theories is on the rise. At the …

A Modern Medical Miracle with Drs. Valluvan Jeevanandam and Talia Baker

May 6th, 2019


Doctor Valluvan Jeevanandam says that transplantation is a “spiritual journey.” One person’s tragic loss leads to the another’s second chance at life. But not all transplants are the same.

In 2018, patients Daru Smith …

An Archaeological Riddle In The Sahara With Paul Sereno

April 15th, 2019


When dinosaur hunter and paleontologist Paul Sereno discovered an ancient mass gravesite in the sands of the Sahara, he knew he had to excavate and …

Tiny Creatures, Big Discoveries With Nipam Patel

April 1st, 2019


Since the late 1800s, if you were serious about studying biology you went to the Marine Biological Laboratory. The discoveries made there have led to …

The Hidden Dangers of Artificial Intelligence with Ben Zhao

March 18th, 2019


The development of artificial intelligence has begun to feel inevitable and promising. But University of Chicago computer scientist, Ben Zhao, has spent much of his career testing how the security of these systems can …

Lessons From Our Country’s Largest School Closing with Eve L. Ewing

March 4th, 2019


In her book Ghosts In The Schoolyard, University of Chicago scholar Eve Ewing asks a central question about the 2013 mass closings of Chicago Public …

Simple Solutions To Address Social Issues with Harold Pollack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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