Photo: Cydney Scott
Mayim Bialik earned her undergraduate degree and a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA and plays a neuroscientist on The Big Bang Theory. She minored in Jewish Studies and Hebrew. She spoke at Boston University’s Graduate Women in Science and Engineering luncheon May 17.
There were many fans of the popular nerd-centric TV sitcom The Big Bang Theoryat the BU Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWISE) luncheon Saturday with guest Mayim Bialik, who plays a neurobiologist on the show. But the 50 or so students and professors at the event, hosted by Beverly Brown, GWISE advisory board member and wife of President Robert A. Brown, also appreciated Bialik’s lesser known bonafides—she holds a doctorate in neuroscience and is a champion of science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) education for girls.
Having launched her television acting career at 14 as the quirky, hat-loving Blossom Russo in the early 1990s NBC television sitcom Blossom, Bialik (Hon.’14), who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Sunday’s Commencement, has won over a new generation with her portrayal of The Big Bang Theory’s Amy Farrah Fowler. The loopy, brilliant Fowler joined the cast at the end of season three and is now a regular. Bialik’s performance has earned her two Screen Actors Guild nominations and two Emmy nominations.
Born in San Diego, 38-year-old Bialik played the young Bette Midler in Beaches at age 12 and has made guest appearances on such TV shows as HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. A character actress who pokes fun at her bookish non-Hollywood appearance ("These glasses are real,” she told the GWISE audience of her outsized black horn-rims), she earned a bachelor’s from the University of California, Los Angeles, in neuroscience in 2000, and in 2007 completed a PhD in neuroscience, also from UCLA. Her research examined the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in obsessive-compulsive disorder in adolescents with Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic abnormality causing life-threatening obesity. "I’m a chromosome 8 person,” she said, to a chorus of knowing laughter.