What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: What opportunities in your science education were you most grateful for?

Gregory Hannon: Well, I came from a very small town.  I had very good and very dedicated science teachers in high school who really went far beyond the call, in a way, to make additional science available after school hours, etc., doing things like science competitions that were held at local colleges, things like this and even making available some very basic college science courses during our later years of high school.  Going on to undergraduate, I went to Case Western Reserve, a private university in Cleveland, with the idea that I was probably going to do medicine.  The first semester I was there, I needed a job and talked to my undergraduate advisor who said, “Hey, why don’t you come to work in my lab.”  And it took about a week to decide that that’s what I really wanted to do.  So, for me, and I think for many, the turning point comes as an undergraduate student when you become exposed to the world of scientific research.  It’s not something that a lot of people are intimately familiar with, it’s not a job that people see or encounter. 

And so, I think the key opportunity is to give undergraduates the chance to come into the lab, to provide them exposure to what a life in academic sciences is really like.  Graduate education is something that at Cold Spring Harbor, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.  And really, Jim Watson pushed very hard about a decade ago to encourage us to fight against the length of graduate training, which was increasing to what he felt were ridiculous timeframes.  So, a seven-year PhD of a student essentially not becoming an independent scientist until well into their 30’s was something that he thought completely inappropriate. 

And so we’ve really tried to essentially reinvent graduate education in a way that allows biologists to get a PhD degree in a short amount of time; four years is our goal.  We tend to meet it by and large over the ten years that our graduate program has been running; our average is about four years and three months.  And in fact, I graduated a student yesterday in 3 ½ years.  And so the notion of bringing people into research early and then giving them an opportunity to do independent work while they’re young and full of fire is, I think, a really critical issue that the community is trying to address.

Recorded on February 9, 2010

Interviewed by Austin Allen

 

Keeping Science “Young and ...

Newsletter: Share: