Dr. Stuart Firestein is the Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biological Sciences where his colleagues and he study the vertebrate olfactory system, possibly the best chemical detector on the face of the planet. His laboratory seeks to answer the fundamental human question: How do I smell? As a recipient of the 2011 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching, Dr. Firestein’s commitment and effectiveness as an educator at Columbia is evident.
Dedicated to promoting the accessibility of science to a public audience, Dr. Firestein seeks to reach broader audiences through nonscientific writing, public appearances, and his support of science in the arts. Dr. Firestein also serves as an advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program for the Public Understanding of Science. Most notably, Dr. Firestein’s commitment to engaging the public in science can be seen in his TED Talk entitled “The pursuit of ignorance”, which has garnered 1.5 million views and counting. For more information on Dr. Fierstein’s cultivation of public interest and participation in the scientific world, please click on the links in the “About” section.
His books on the workings of science for a general audience, Ignorance: How it Drives Science, and Failure: Why Science Is So Successful (Oxford University Press), capture the hard work of science, the informed curiosity found among scientists, and the exhilaration of discovery. Both books have received esteemed praise from the public and critics and has even become integrated into the curricula as required readings among several high schools and colleges.