One on One With "The Science Babe"

Exclusive interview with Debbie Berebichez -- aka The Science Babe

Published: May 6th 2011
in Culture » Society

Debbie Berebichez -- aka The Science Babe

Meet Debbie Berebichez  -- "The Science Babe." She has managed to accomplish the impossible -- making physics and other areas of science accessible to the public and actually exciting.


Dr. Berebichez completed her Ph.D in physics at Stanford University (the first Mexican woman to do so), and continues to work closely with her advisor, physics Nobel Laureate Robert Laughlin. After completing her Doctorate, she pursued two postdoctoral fellowships in applied mathematics and physics and conducted further research at Columbia University and NYU. She speaks five languages and currently works as a Wall Street risk analyst and develops video, articles, and public communications programs to bring science to the masses. She has also been featured on CNN, National Geographic, MSNBC and Dr. Oz.


Berebichez didn’t start her university career as a science major. In fact, she was recognized in Mexico for her short-story writing and considered herself a “right-brain person.” While studying theatre and philosophy, she recognized her passion for physics. With limited math knowledge and a lot of perseverance, she “embarked on a journey to understand the physical laws governing our universe.” The combination of creative thinking and science knowledge has given her a unique gift. She understand what’s it’s like to not understand science, which aids her in explaining complex concepts to people that normally would not understand or show interest.


I got the chance to sit down with "The Science Babe" for a quick Q&A. Did you know that a woman in heels in heavier than an elephant? I’m serious…




Ashley Baylen (AB): Why have you decided to go by "The Science Babe?"


Debbie Berebichez (DB): One afternoon four years ago I told my friend Dina Kaplan that I wanted to create a platform to inspire more women to get into science and we came up with the idea of the name "science babe." My goal is to change the traditional connotation of the word "babe" from someone who is physically attractive to someone who is intellectually attractive. In other words, I believe that by engaging our minds while learning different topics such as science women can feel more empowered, more feminine and ultimately sexier.


AB: I understand you weren't always interested in the sciences. What was your focus initially and what inspired you to shift gears?


DB: Growing up I was very interested in theatre and philosophy, and I pursued both as an undergraduate at Brandeis University. I liked philosophy because it answered deep questions about life but I discovered that I was attracted to mathematics and was more inclined to research questions like why does the natural world behave in a certain way. So my third year in college I decided to add the physics major and ended up writing two honors theses in philosophy and physics. I guess I had always been fascinated by physics but I was a bit scared and discouraged from studying it by friends and family where I grew up in Mexico City. Years later, after a lot of perseverance, I became the first Mexican woman to graduate with a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University.


AB: Tell us about The Science of Everyday Life. 


DB: That is the name of a program I started that delivers lectures, video and articles about the science behind everyday activities. The idea is to show that science is not only made up of complex equations written on a school board, but a fun endeavor that allows you to analyze and engage more effectively with the world around you. By making videos that combine popular topics with science such as “the physics of high heels” and “chemistry in the kitchen,” my aim is to spark girls’ imagination about the world and consider how fun a science career can be.


AB: Why is it important for the average person to understand the science behind every day items and concepts?


Related articles: (Science Babe, Debbie Berebichez, MSNBC, Dr Oz, National Geographic, physics, high heels, science of everyday life)
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