Big Brains

UChicago Podcast Network

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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.
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How the Loss of Community Threatens Society With Raghuram Rajan

24:03 | Jun 3rd

UChicago economist Raghuram Rajan became infamous for predicting the 2008 financial collapse three years before it happened. Now, he’s warning that an imbalance in our society is threatening global stability.
Trump and the Changing Power of the Presidency with William Howell

26:24 | Jun 17th

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 one of the leading scholars on ...Show More
The Science of Conspiracy Theories And Political Polarization With Eric Oliver

28:12 | May 20th

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 same time, our polarization is worse than ever. Could the underlying force driving conspiracy theorie...Show More
A Modern Medical Miracle with Drs. Valluvan Jeevanandam and Talia Baker

26:43 | May 6th

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 and Sarah McPharlin were both...Show More
An Archaeological Riddle In The Sahara With Paul Sereno

27:22 | Apr 15th

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 save that history and heritage. Sereno has always said paleontology and archeology are adventures w...Show More
Tiny Creatures, Big Discoveries With Nipam Patel

27:31 | Apr 1st

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 world-changing applications in biology, medicine and neurology. The newly appointed MBL director,...Show More
The Hidden Dangers of Artificial Intelligence with Ben Zhao

22:46 | Mar 18th

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 break down. Zhao’s study invo...Show More
Lessons From Our Country’s Largest School Closing with Eve L. Ewing

26:31 | Mar 4th

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 Schools: If the schools were so bad, why did people fight so hard to save them? Her investigation ...Show More
Simple Solutions To Address Social Issues with Harold Pollack

21:22 | Feb 18th

University of Chicago Professor Harold Pollack may be famous for his “financial index card”, but it’s his application of simple solutions to complex issues that’s reshaping how we tackle crime and healthcare. What can be done to reduce the number ...Show More
What We’re Getting Wrong About Millennials With Cathy Cohen

20:54 | Feb 4th

Every election year, poll after poll tries to predict where millennials stand politically. But Prof. Cathy Cohen of the University of Chicago says some of our assumptions about what issues matter to young people are all wrong. Cohen’s innovative s...Show More
What Ripples in Space-Time Tell Us About the Universe with Daniel Holz

22:54 | Jan 21st

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 literally ripple the fabric of space-time. Prof. Daniel Holz and fellow scientists at LIGO were certain th...Show More
Vietnam and the Rise of the White Power Movement with Kathleen Belew

27:19 | Jan 7th

The revelation for historian Kathleen Belew came while researching a 1979 anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in Greensboro, North Carolina that turned deadly when five members were murdered by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis. Belew was struck by the reflectio...Show More
Big Brains: Back in 2019

00:52 | Dec 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 six episodes from Season One th...Show More
Climate Change’s Human Cost With Michael Greenstone

22:25 | Dec 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 energy. On this episode of Bi...Show More
David Axelrod on Why ‘Democracy is Messy’ and the Future of Politics

26:01 | Nov 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 former senior adviser began the next chapter in his illustrious career, he looked to his alma mater to...Show More
How Talk Builds Babies’ Brains with Dana Suskind

21:50 | Nov 12th, 2018

When Prof. Dana Suskind first began implanting devices called cochlear implants on babies who couldn’t hear, she quickly noticed that many of her patients struggled to develop language because their parents didn’t talk to them as much. It was a revel...Show More
What Makes Us Uniquely Human with Neuroscientist Bobby Kasthuri

24:20 | Oct 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 the Milky Way galaxy. His succe...Show More
From Sci-Fi to Reality, Quantum Technology with David Awschalom

21:05 | Oct 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 science fiction into reality. On this episode of Big Brains, Awschalom shares how these unusual rules...Show More
Future of Higher Education and College Access with Robert J. Zimmer

34:41 | Oct 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 private institutions continue to...Show More
The Hidden Abuse of U.S. Immigration with Claudia Flores

18:38 | Sep 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 Mexico. But her latest work revealed the hidden abuse of migrant children detained at the U.S. bord...Show More
SCOTUS Nears Unimaginable Era with Geoffrey Stone

24:10 | Sep 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 his decades writing on issues...Show More
Special University of Chicago Convocation Podcast with Student Speaker Andrea Popova

22:37 | Jun 12th, 2018

A special Convocation edition podcast from the UChicago Podcast Network, featuring an interview with student speaker Andrea Popova, followed by the complete speeches from Andrea and fellow graduates Mark Meyer and Priscilla Daboni.
Special University of Chicago Convocation Podcast featuring Valerie Jarrett and Marianne Bertrand

41:30 | Jun 12th, 2018

A special Convocation edition podcast from the UChicago Podcast Network, featuring the full speeches given by Class Day speaker Valerie Jarrett, distinguished senior fellow in the University of Chicago Law School former senior adviser to President Ob...Show More
Economist’s Journey to the Nobel with Richard Thaler

44:24 | Jun 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 he received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work.  On this episode of Big Brains, Tha...Show More
Future of Energy Innovation with Michael Polsky

23:27 | 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 boat. On this episode of Big Brains, Polsky discusses his early days in the energy field, his...Show More
The Expanding Universe with Wendy Freedman

23:03 | 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 to glimpse into its birth.   On this episode of Big Brains, Freedman discusses her research on me...Show More
Nature’s Design Secrets with Rama Ranganathan

25:13 | May 7th, 2018

From the smallest proteins of cells to entire ecosystems, nature might be the most sophisticated engineer on earth. On this episode of Big Brains, Ranganathan shares his pioneering research on evolutionary physics, and explains why he believes bio...Show More
Mind of a Virtuoso Composer with Augusta Read Thomas

25:35 | Apr 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 hailed as “a true virtuoso composer” by The New Yorker, and her work has been performed more than...Show More
Myths of U.S. Health Care with Katherine Baicker

26:59 | Apr 23rd, 2018

Katherine Baicker is Dean of the Harris School at the University of Chicago and one of the leading scholars on the economics of health care. Her research from the groundbreaking Oregon Medicaid Experiment has helped uncover the true costs and benefit...Show More
Discovering the Missing Link with Neil Shubin

27:41 | Apr 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 2004, Shubin discovered Tiktaalik roseae, a 375-million-year old creature that was part fish, part l...Show More
Big Brains Trailer

01:21 | Apr 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 Chicago and hosted by Paul Rand.