A talk with Ellen Stofan, Chief Scientist of NASA

Back in October, Science Soapbox had a unique opportunity to sit down with Dr. Ellen Stofan, Chief Scientist of NASA. A geologist by training, Dr. Stofan has worked in numerous positions in NASA, including principal investigator on the Titan Mare Explorer, chief scientist for NASA’s New Millennium Program, and deputy project scientist for the Magellan Mission to Venus. She was appointed NASA chief scientist on August 25, 2013.

In part one, we discuss expected results from NASA in 2016, data sharing with other countries, and policy reforms at NASA.

Relevant links from part 1: Roadmap for Astrobiology

In Part 2, we talk about the influence of policy on research, international collaborations, and lasting impressions of the Star Trek TV show*.

Post Interview Update: the NASA budget for 2016 will be $19,285,000, a 7.1% increase!

* During the interview Dr. Stofan referred to the creator of Star Trek as Gene Nichols. This is referring to Gene Roddenberry.

Torsten Wiesel: NIBS, OIST, and public communication.

We recently had the pleasure of a conversation with Dr. Torsten Wiesel. While he is perhaps best known for his invaluable contributions to our understanding of mammalian visual processing—work for which he and colleague David Hubel received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1981—Dr. Wiesel’s work in the realm of science advocacy has been diverse and impactful.

In part one, we discuss just a few of Dr. Wiesel’s experiences promoting science education and scientific cooperation across the globe, including his tenure as president of The Rockefeller University, his time with the Human Frontiers Science Program, and his current efforts in establishing the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.

In part two, Dr. Wiesel shares his thoughts about the changing nature of scientific discovery and the changes that it will bring about in science communication, public awareness, and most of all in scientists themselves.

*In this interview, we are joined by the newest member of the Science Soapbox team, Maryam Zaringhalam, scientist, blogger, and founder of ArtLab, a forum which brings together artists and scientists to discuss the interface of art and science.