‘The Big Bang Theory’ star Mayim Bialik visits UT

Mayim Bialik speaks at UT as part of the Mossman Lecture Series. She describes her life as an actress, neuroscientist and female role model.

Monday night was full of jokes, laughter and discussion as Mayim Bialik described her life in a nutshell and her future plans at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Acting career 

“I had heard of ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ but I thought it was a game show. My manager said to me ‘they’re looking for a female Sheldon Cooper,’ and I said ‘who’s Sheldon Cooper?’ So, I googled Sheldon Cooper,” Bialik said. “I watched like 10 or 15 seconds and I was like ‘oh I know people like this. I can do this. I went to grad school. We’re all like this.'”

Bialik premiered on the third season finale before becoming a main character in the fourth.

She was a child actress growing up. “I was offered my own TV show [Blossom],” Bialik said. “I say it like that because that’s how weird it felt to me, you know 13 years old and that’s what my life was like.”

Bialik described her family’s immigration story from Poland to Ellis Island and being Jewish immigrants. Her parents instilled a love and appreciation for public education and the caring teachers.

Discovering passion for science 

Her parents hired tutors to come to her sets when she was a child actress. One of which was a 20-year-old female biology student. Bialik discovered a love for math and science, which she previously hated, through this tutor.

“She taught me in a way I could really learn. . . just because you’re not naturally good at something doesn’t mean you’re dumb and can’t do it. It just means you just haven’t had it taught to you in a way you need it to be,” Bialik said.

This was the catalyst to launch Bialik into the medical field. Around the time she graduated with her Ph.D, she began acting again. She soon became part of the main cast for ‘The Big Bang Theory.’

Now eight years later, the series nears the completion of its 12th and final season.

Future plans

Bialik discussed her ‘mullings’ of future career plans once the show concludes. She will continue to focus on putting a positive spin on science through her YouTube channel and website. She also said that it is unlikely she will go into a professorship, reasoning that it is difficult to get into it after being out of it for so long.

Alex Rizzel is a UTK graduate student studying neuroscience emphasized the importance of Bialik’s talk.

“It’s good for us as neuroscientists to have someone with that level of celebrity to come and promote the field,” Rizzel said.


Edited by Ciera Noe and Kaitlin Flippo

Featured image by Jonathan Desai

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