Scientists very often have the stigma of being dull, old, grey men labelled on them. One of the ways in which we can show the general public and especially the young public that science isn’t (necessarily) boring and that not every scientist is by definition dull (although I know plenty who can put you to sleep in under five minutes just by their presence), is through role models. Science is in dire need of good role models, especially the ones that appeal to the next generation of potential scientists. As I discovered in a blog entry that was brought to my attention by the magazine Seed, such a role model might exist in the actress Natalie Portman. She’s acting on the side nowadays, but her main career pursuit is psychology. The entry also points to an article which this Harvard graduate co-authored on some very interesting work on the role of the frontal lobe in the development of object permanence in infants. Let’s hope Natalie Portman will use her talents to inspire a new generation of budding scientists.
Update 22 October 2007: Another good example is actress and mathematician Danica McKellar who wrote a new book with the straightforward title “Math Doesn’t Suck”. Read an interview with her on the Aetiology blog or listen to an interview on NPR.