While my wife stood in an auditorium fielding questions regarding her doctoral dissertation, I shared a pitcher of beer at the nearest bar with her marine science colleagues. They insisted she was entering an exclusive club in the scientific community: the rare species of sexy scientists with PhDs. To commemorate her achievement, they suggested I compile a top ten
list of the hottest, living scientists. I, in turn, challenged my fellow nerds to name ten attractive scientists who they did not know personally. It took a few beers, but below are the fruits of our alcohol-fueled labors in no particular order.
Amy Mainzer, PhD: Astrophysics
Amy Mainzer earned her PhD in Astronomy from UCLA. She is the Deputy Project Scientist for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. She is also the Principal Investigator for the NEOWISE project to study minor planets and the proposed Near Earth Object Camera space telescope mission. She has appeared several times in the History Channel series, The Universe
. Her research interests include asteroids, brown dwarfs, planetary atmospheres, debris disks, star formation and the design and construction of new ground and space-based instrumentation.
Fun Fact: The asteroid (234750) Amymainzer was named after her.
* * *
Aditi Shankardass, PhD: Neuroscience
Aditi Shankardass earned her doctoral (MD) degree from University College London and she attended the University of Sheffield for her PhD in Neuroscience. She performs pioneering clinical work using electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings of the brain to help diagnose developmental disorders in children. Her previous work using EEG recordings of the brain to help identify the underlying neurological cause of dyslexia, was the subject of her award-winning presentation at the 2001 United Kingdom Parliament's Annual Reception for Britain's Top Young Scientists, Engineers and Technologists. Shankardass serves as a board member of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, an organization devoted to raising global awareness of neurological and psychiatric disorders. She has been a consultant for the BBC Science Line in the UK, providing expertise for radio and TV documentaries.
* * *
Franziska Michor, PhD: Evolutionary Biology
- Dr. Franziska Michor
Franziska Michor received her PhD from Harvard's Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology in 2005. Afterwards, she was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows and worked at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. From 2007 to 2010, she was assistant professor at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. In 2010, she moved to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health. Her lab investigates the evolutionary dynamics of cancer.
Fun Fact: Both Franziska and her sister Johanna, who has a PhD in Mathematics, are licensed to drive 18-wheelers in Austria.
* * *
Clio Cresswell, PhD: Mathematics
Clio Cresswell received her PhD in Mathematics from The University of New South Wales, Australia. In 2004, she published the best-selling book, Mathematics and Sex
. The book focuses on how math can help unlock the secrets of love
, exploring such topics as dating services, dating as game theory, the mathematical logic of affairs
, and the numbers behind orgasms
Quote: "My most famous theory is the 12 bonk rule. You have 12 partners and then you pick the next best after that. The next best could be number 16, 50, 110—it's up to you to decide. I’ve had way more than 12 partners. That’s shown me that I have probably met someone in my past that I could actually be very happy with, but I’ve just got a commitment issue" ~ Cresswill talking to ABC.net
* * *
Olivia Judson, PhD: Evolutionary Biology
Olivia Judson received her PhD in biological sciences from Oxford University. Her first book, Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation
(2002), grew out of an article she penned for The Economist
titled, "Sex Is War!". The book is written in the style of a sex-advice column
for animals. It details a variety of sexual practices in the natural world and provides an overview of the evolutionary biology of sex. The book was an international best-seller and was nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. Her second book, Dinosaur Eggs for Breakfast
, came out in 2009.
Quote: “True monogamy is rare. So rare that it is one of the most deviant behaviors in biology.”
* * *
Rhonda Freeman, PhD: Neuropsychology
Rhonda Freeman earned her PhD in psychology, specializing in neuropsychology, from Drexel University. She trained within the neuropsychology track, evaluating the cognitive and emotional status of patients diagnosed with psychiatric conditions. She has provided neuropsychological services to individuals with moderate to severe brain trauma, stroke, acute stress disorder, and various other neurological and medical conditions. Since 2001, Freeman has worked for the largest neurology practice in South Florida- Sunrise Medical Group Neurology. You can follow her on Twitter, @DrRFreeman, or via her website, RhondaFreemanPhD.com .
Fun Fact: She was a cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles between 1995-1999, and she cheered for the Miami Dolphins between 2006-2007.
* * *
Jennifer McCarty, PhD: Materials Science and Engineering
Jennifer Hooper McCarty earned her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. After finishing her PhD, she worked as a researcher in the Materials Department at Oxford University, and carried out historical analysis on 19th-20th century wrought iron and steel structures, including archival and documentary research and discussions with local blacksmiths, historians and shipbuilding experts. Based on her studies of material recovered from the Titanic, she co-authored, What Really Sank the Titanic: New Forensic Discoveries. She currently works at Oregon Health & Science University.
* * *
Talmesha Richards, PhD: Molecular Medicine
- Dr. Talmesha Richards
Talmesha Richards was offered a full academic scholarship from both Princeton and Johns Hopkins. She eventually received her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where her research focused on breast cancer.
Fun Fact: She was a cheerleader for the Baltimore Ravens and is currently the captain of the squad for the Washington Redskins.
* * *
Kirsten "Kiki" Sanford, PhD: Neurophysiology
- Dr. Kristen "Kiki" Sanford
Kristen "Kiki" Sanford earned a PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology from UC Davis. She was a research scientist in neurophysiology at the UC Davis, specializing in learning and memory. She left bench science to present science through a variety of media outlets. In 2005, she was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship in recognition of her work with her radio show, This Week in Science
. Through this fellowship she worked as a producer at WNBC News.
Fun Fact: She holds a black belt in taekwondo. Also, one of her dreams is to have a cameo on, The Big Bang Theory.
* * *
Cheska Burleson, PhD: Chemical Oceanography
Cheska Burleson earned her PhD in Chemical Oceanography from The University of South Florida. Her research focused on the production of toxins by algae blooms commonly known as "red tide." She also evaluated the medicinal potential of these algal species, finding extracts that show promise as anti-malarial drugs and in combating various strains of staphylococcus, including MRSA—the most resistant and devastating form of the bacteria.
Fun Fact: Cheska entered college at seventeen with enough credits to be classified as a junior. She also spent her formative years as a competitive figure skater.
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