Science Nerd

Robert Satcher (physician, chemical engineer, and NASA astronaut) was born on September 22, 1965

Robert Lee “Bobby” Satcher, Jr. is a physician, chemical engineer, and NASA astronaut. He became the first orthopedic surgeon in space during STS-129. He participated in 2 spacewalks during STS-129, accumulating 12hrs 19min of EVA time. Satcher holds two doctorates (Ph.D., M.D.) and has received numerous awards and honors as a surgeon and engineer. He is married with two children. Bobby Satcher enjoys running, scuba diving, and reading. Born in Hampton, Virginia, Satcher graduated from Denmark-Olar High School in Denmark, SC (1982), and went on to receive a Bachelor of Science degree as well as a doctorate in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then went on to study medicine at Harvard Medical School, and received his medical doctorate in 1994. Satcher did his internship, residency, and postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley from 1994–2000, and an orthopedic oncology fellowship at the University of Florida from 2000-2001. Prior to being accepted into the astronaut program by NASA, Satcher was the Assistant Professor at The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Satcher also held appointments as an Attending Physician in Orthopaedic Surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, specializing in Musculoskeletal Oncology; and an Adjuct Appointment in The Biomedical Engineering Department at Northwestern University School of Engineering. Satcher was also a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Advanced Medicine at Northwestern University. Satcher was also a Schweitzer Fellow at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, in Lambaréné, Gabon. Satcher’s experience in engineering includes internships at DuPont in the Textile Fibers Research Group, and the Polymer Products Division.

Science Nerd, Writer Nerd

Steven Pinker (Canadian-American cognitive scientist, linguist, and author) was born on September 18, 1954

Steven Arthur Pinker is a Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist and popular science author. He is a Harvard College Professor and the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. Pinker’s academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics. His academic pursuits include experiments on mental imagery, shape recognition, visual attention, children’s language development, regular and irregular phenomena in language, the neural bases of words and grammar, and the psychology of innuendo and euphemism. He published two technical books which proposed a general theory of language acquisition and applied it to children’s learning of verbs. In his less academic books, he argued that language is an “instinct” or biological adaptation shaped by natural selection. On this point, he opposes Noam Chomsky and others who regard the human capacity for language to be the by-product of other adaptations. He is the author of five books for a general audience, which include The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007).

Science Nerd, Writer Nerd

Stephen Jay Gould (American historian of science) was born on September 10, 1941

Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the latter years of his life, Gould also taught biology and evolution at New York University near his home in SoHo. Gould’s greatest contribution to science was the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge in 1972. The theory proposes that most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability, which is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. The theory was contrasted against phyletic gradualism, the popular idea that evolutionary change is marked by a pattern of smooth and continuous change in the fossil record.

Computer Nerd, Math Nerd, Science Nerd

Dennis Ritchie (American computer scientist) was born on September 9, 1941

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie is an American computer scientist notable for developing C and for having influence on other programming languages, as well as operating systems such as Multics and Unix. He received the Turing Award in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology 1998 on April 21, 1999. Ritchie was the head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007. Born in Bronxville, New York, Ritchie graduated from Harvard University with degrees in physics and applied mathematics. In 1967, he began working at the Bell Labs Computing Sciences Research Center, and in 1968, he received a Ph.D. from Harvard under the supervision of Patrick C. Fischer. Ritchie is best known as the creator of the C programming language and a key developer of the Unix operating system, and as co-author of the definitive book on C, The C Programming Language, commonly referred to as K&R (in reference to the authors Kernighan and Ritchie). Ritchie’s invention of C and his role in the development of Unix alongside Ken Thompson have placed him as an important pioneer of modern computing. The C language is still widely used today in application and operating system development, and its influence is seen in most modern programming languages. Unix has also been influential, establishing concepts and principles that are now well-established precepts of computing. Ritchie was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1988 for “development of the ‘C’ programming language and for co-development of the UNIX operating system.”

Computer Nerd, Math Nerd, Science Nerd

John McCarthy (American computer scientist) was born on September 4, 1927

John McCarthy, is an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist who received the Turing Award in 1971 for his major contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He was responsible for the coining of the term “Artificial Intelligence” in his 1955 proposal for the 1956 Dartmouth Conference and is the inventor of the Lisp programming language. McCarthy showed an early aptitude for mathematics; in his teens he taught himself mathematics by studying the textbooks used at the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech). As a result, when he was accepted into Caltech the following year, he was able to skip the first two years of mathematics. Receiving a B.S. in Mathematics in 1948, McCarthy initially continued his studies at Caltech. He received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Princeton University in 1951 under Solomon Lefschetz. McCarthy championed mathematical logic for Artificial Intelligence. In 1958, he proposed the advice taker, which inspired later work on question-answering and logic programming. Around 1959, he invented Garbage collection to solve problems in Lisp. Based on the Lambda Calculus, Lisp rapidly became the programming language of choice for AI applications after its publication in 1960. He helped to motivate the creation of Project MAC at MIT, but left MIT for Stanford University in 1962, where he helped set up the Stanford AI Laboratory, for many years a friendly rival to Project MAC. In 1961, he was the first to publicly suggest (in a speech given to celebrate MIT’s centennial) that computer time-sharing technology might lead to a future in which computing power and even specific applications could be sold through the utility business model (like water or electricity). This idea of a computer or information utility was very popular in the late 1960s, but faded by the mid-1970s as it became clear that the hardware, software and telecommunications technologies of the time were simply not ready. However, since 2000, the idea has resurfaced in new forms (see application service provider, grid computing, and cloud computing.)

Math Nerd, Science Nerd

Marcus du Sautoy (Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics) was born on August 26, 1965

Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Formerly a Fellow of All Souls College, and Wadham College, he is now a Fellow of New College. He is President of the Mathematical Association. He was previously an EPSRC Senior Media Fellow and a Royal Society University Research Fellow. His academic work concerns mainly group theory and number theory. In October 2008, he was appointed to the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science, succeeding the inaugural holder Richard Dawkins. Du Sautoy is an atheist, but has stated that as holder of the Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science his focus is going to be “very much on the science and less on religion.” He has described his own religion as being “Arsenal – football,” as he sees religion as wanting to belong to a community. Du Sautoy is a supporter of Common Hope, an organisation that helps people in Guatemala.

Computer Nerd, Science Nerd

Philip Emeagwali (engineer and computer scientist/geologist) was born on August 23, 1954

Philip Emeagwali is a Nigerian-born engineer and computer scientist/geologist who was one of two winners of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, a prize from the IEEE, for his use of a Connection Machine supercomputer to help analyze petroleum fields. Emeagwali was born in Akure, Nigeria. His early schooling was suspended in 1967 due to the Nigerian-Biafran war. When he turned fourteen, he served in the Biafran army. After the war he completed a high-school equivalency through self-study. He travelled to the United States to study under a scholarship after taking a correspondence course at the University of London. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977. He worked as a civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Reclamation in Wyoming during this period. He later moved to Washington DC, receiving in 1986 a master’s degree from George Washington University in ocean and marine engineering, and a second master’s in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland.