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Monday, December 5, 2016

Celebrity STEM Stars

Did you know your favorite television star might have co-proved a theorem? Or that your favorite sports star may be pursuing a PhD in math at MIT? Many great celebrities love STEM and are not shy about sharing their passion with you!

Keep on reading to learn about how many people who are famous for sports, film, and TV are also well-known for their role in the world of STEM!

You might be surprised at who has a passion for STEM! Here is a list of a few people we found, but feel free to leave us a comment with your favorite STEM-loving celebrities!

John Urschel is an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens and also an accomplished mathematician! He earned both his bachelor's and master's degree in mathematics at Pennsylvania State University and is currently pursuing a PhD in mathematics at MIT. He has published peer-reviewed papers in mathematics, and described his passion as a "desire to learn about the unknown — and to expand our understanding of it." Feel free to read one of his papers and his explanation of it here! During the NFL season, he's been sharing very cool Problems of the Week on The Players' Tribune for all to enjoy! You can check those out here!

Danica McKellar is famous for her work as an actor, but did you know she's also a math wiz? McKellar earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with highest honors in 1998 at UCLA. She is well-known in the math world for co-proving the Chayes–McKellar–Winn theorem which you can read about in the paper she co-authored here! In addition, McKellar is a strong advocate for education. Her bestselling books include, Math Doesn't Suck, Kiss My Math, and more! She enjoys encouraging young students, especially girls, to love math and feel confident about the subject.

Dara Ó Briain is a comedian and TV star famous in Ireland and the UK. Ó Briain studied math and theoretical physics at the University College Dublin and later went on to become a successful comedian. From 2012 to 2014, he hosted a comedy show with mathematics professor Marcus du Sautoy called School of Hard Sums which you can read about here! Math puzzles were given to guests on the show, and "homework questions" were offered to viewers by Ó Briain. If you like brain teasers and fun math, we encourage you to give this one a shot! Answers to the math questions can be found on the show's website.

Mayim Bialik is an actress with an impressive resumé. She is most famous for playing Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, but did you know in the real world she is also a neuroscientist? In 2007 she earned her PhD from UCLA for her research on obsessive compulsive disorder, and she has also written a book about parenting based on the science of hormones. Bialik has applied her studies to her life, stating "my reflections on parenting are absolutely informed by my understanding of the hormones of attachment, which were the subject of my thesis." Feel free to check out her book here!

Masayori Oka is a Japanese American actor who also has a history full of mathematics and computer science. In his teenage years, Oka participated in Mathematics competitions and ended up representing the state of California in a national competition. In 1997 Oka graduated from Brown University with a BS in computer science and mathematics. In the years following college graduation, Oka used his skills in computer science to bring the magic of special effects to movies like The Hulk, Star Wars, Terminator 3, and others! He later went on to be famous for his acting roles, namely NBC's Heroes and CBS' Hawaii Five-0. Feel free to read about his CS work here!

Natalie Portman is a very successful actress, producer and director who also expertly balanced her career and education. Portman received her degree in psychology from Harvard University in 2003, and during her time as a student, she co-authored two published research papers. "A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar," can be read here, and "Frontal lobe activation during object permanence: data from near-infrared spectroscopy" here. One role Portman is famous for portraying is astrophysicist Jane Foster from the Marvel Universe. This character served as an inspiration for a STEM contest she announced with Marvel that is designed to encourage young women to love STEM. You can read more about this here!

Let us know if we missed your favorite STEM-loving celebrity!


  1. Not sure how much he's made use of it, but Art Garfunkel did graduate level math along the way, and then there are all those Simpsons' writers with math backgrounds, as well.

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