Eugenia is a mathematician and concert pianist. She is Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and holds a PhD in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge. Her aim is to rid the world of "maths phobia". Eugenia was an early pioneer of maths on YouTube and her videos have been viewed over 20 million times to date.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? "I began my career as a “normal” career academic, although my friends and family will tell you I’ve never been particularly normal. I did the things academics do: get several degrees, do post-doctoral positions around the world, spend long nights doing research in between preparing and delivering undergraduate lectures, travel on a shoestring to attend conferences, publish papers in peer-reviewed journals, sit on committees to help run the university.
Eventually I decided I needed to do more. I believe in using one’s talents to help the world in the way that makes best use of those talents. I decided that mine were more urgently needed in the realm of mathematics education and popularisation. I had already been making mathematics videos on YouTube since 2007, but they were initially aimed at graduate students and then undergraduates. I shifted to making videos for a general audience.
I started doing more media work to reach more people outside the world of universities. I wrote my first book, “How to Bake Pi” aimed at a very wide audience. After a few years of transition I resigned from my tenured academic job in order to pursue a portfolio career with a big emphasis on bringing mathematics to a wider audience."
Wendy is the Dana J. Johnson Professor of Management and faculty director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Lerner College of Business and Economics, University of Delaware. She earned her PhD in organisational behaviour at Harvard Business School, where she began her intensive research on strategic paradoxes—how leaders and senior teams effectively respond to contradictory, yet interdependent demands.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? "My first foray into leadership was in high school. I was the international president of a 20,000 person youth group at age 18; and have been interested in leadership and organizational behavior ever since.
I stumbled into studying paradoxes because I would find myself creating a forced either/or with so many of my own career and life decisions (they say that research is ME-search; and I was looking for new ways to navigate my own challenges).
In my free time, I think a lot about my three kids (my eldest are 16 year old twins, offering a lot of fodder for thinking about interdependent contradictions), spend lots of time wondering how to live more energetically efficiently to minimize my impact on this burning planet, and work through my own tensions by running in the woods with my dog."
Dean is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Davis. For nearly a half century he has conducted scientific research on various aspects of genius, creativity, and leadership.
A little known fact is that Dean’s research interests actually date back to elementary school when a recently purchased encyclopedia became his favorite reading material. Becoming fascinated with art, science, history, and biography, he learned at Harvard graduate school that his broad interests had to become more focused if he wanted to earn a degree and pursue an academic career.
He eventually concentrated on the creators and leaders who made enduring contributions to human civilization. Moreover, rather than adopt a single methodology to study this complex phenomenon, he used whatever techniques were most suitable for a particular hypothesis.
Dean’s hobbies involve listening to classical music, reading literature and philosophy, visiting art museums, and surfing the internet. Although he exercises regularly, using both weights and a bicycle, his friends would call him a nerd – especially because he most often wears T-shirts featuring his favorite creators and leaders.
Anna Abraham, Ph.D. is the E. Paul Torrance Professor and Director of the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development at the University of Georgia. She investigates the psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying creativity and other aspects of the human imagination, including the reality-fiction distinction, mental time travel, social and self-referential cognition, and mental state reasoning.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? "I have been smitten by the world of creativity - whether through film, books, music or sports - ever since I can remember. The opportunity to study the creativity and the imagination was a serendipitous gift. And the lens of sheer possibility is one through which I process virtually everything in the world."
Human ingenuity and inventiveness has continually moved our world forward. From beautiful art works to works of literature, space shuttles to scientific leaps forward, at the heart of progress and change is a spark of creativity.
How can I be more creative? This is the question Professor Anna Abraham is most often asked and in this fireside conversation, she will be sharing the answer to this question, grounded in her research on creativity and the brain.