028 – Science and Creativity with Chris Schaffer

028 – Science and Creativity with Chris Schaffer


 028 Chris Schaffer

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[In This Episode][Guest Bio][Additional Notes][Text Transcript]

In This Episode

Cou028 Chris Schafferld recent research be a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatment? Is science more than equations and logical pursuits? Could it be that science is more about creativity than logic? Listen in to today’s podcast for the surprising answers!

Hey there, Innovation Nation! I am thoroughly enjoying the start of springtime here in the high desert. The flowers are blooming, and our little orchard out back is beginning to come to life. I love seeing the flowers and trees growing and getting ready to bust out in a cacophony of color and excitement. It reminds me of the growth and excitement we experience every summer in our Inventor’s Bootcamps. I get really excited about Inventor’s Bootcamp because there’s so much growth and creativity and excitement as the students build crazy engineering contraptions with 3D printers and wire them up with a little electronic trickery and programming prowess. The amount of creativity, confidence, curiosity, and deep thinking of the students in these summer camps is almost unbelievable.

Today’s interview may bring some surprises. My discussion with Chris Schaffer, a professor at Cornell University, unearths some common myths and dusts off the truth about science. The perspectives in today’s podcast are not for the faint of heart, so prepare for a massive unveiling.

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About Chris

Biomedical Engineering department at Cornell University. Chris grew up in Jacksonville, FL and was an undergraduate at the University of Florida, where he studied physics. He received his PhD from Harvard University, also in physics, and then worked in a neuroscience laboratory as a post-doc at the University of California, San Diego. He now runs a lab at Cornell that develops advanced optical techniques that enable quantitative imaging and targeted manipulation of individual cells in the central nervous system of rodents with the goal of constructing a microscopic-scale understanding of normal and disease-state physiological processes in the brain. One area of current focus is understanding the role of brain blood flow disruptions in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Chris is also active in developing novel educational strategies to teach science as a dynamic process for discovery. These approaches are used in outreach settings in middle and high-school science classes as well as in his undergraduate and graduate level courses. Chris also has a strong interest in science policy and recently spent a one-year sabbatical in Washington, DC, working as a science policy fellow for Senator Edward Markey in the United States Congress. He continues to be active in science policy, including through a course he teaches on this topic. Chris is an accomplished surfer, having ridden waves all over the world and surfed some “big wave” spots, including greater than 20 ft. waves at Todos Santos, Mexico. 

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Additional Notes

Contact Chris:


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Full Text Transcript – Coming Soon!

“The growth in the per capita gross domestic product in the United States from WWII to today–50% of that growth–is directly attributable to science and technology innovation… That represents the greatest creation of wealth by a minority of a society–science and engineers–for the rest of society, everyone, in the history of humanity.”
— Chris Schaffer

“I think you commonly find, in science, people who have other artistic and creative outlets. [We] frequently find musicians and writers among the scientific population. It [science] is a very creative process. It’s just a creative process that’s tempered by experiments.”
— Chris Schaffer

“It is possible to teach science as a creative process of discovery–at all levels.”
— Chris Schaffer

“In science what we are essentially doing is we are working at the very boundary of human knowledge–at the very edge of what’s known collectively as a species, and we’re trying to look past that and understand what else is out there. We’re looking past what’s known and trying to make predictions… That’s the creative part–trying to see past what current knowledge is to what might be the truth or what might be the next piece of information we might acquire.”
— Chris Schaffer


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