Here’s a collection of musicians, actors, and comedians who have also racked up accomplishments in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). A number of these multi-talents earned their technology bars before hitting the big time, while others continued with technical careers while famous in the arts.
Some on the list are quite surprising. Tom Scholz, founder of the rock band Boston, is a mechanical engineer who actually holds a handful of patents. Lisa Kudrow from Friends is a biologist. My favorite story comes from Ally Walker. She was working as a molecular biologist in preparation for medical school when she was discovered by a Hollywood producer in a restaurant.
Click on the photo of Walker below to see what 19 other celebrities are doing in the STEM field.
Ally Walker -- biochemist
Ally Walker starred in the series Profiler and Tell Me You Love Me. She received a degree in biochemistry from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and worked as a researcher on a genetic engineering project in preparation for UCLA Medical School when she was discovered -- no kidding -- by a Hollywood producer in a restaurant.
Great list! I love reading about the secret lives of celebrities--especially when they are secretly geeks. ;) Actually, a lot of these folks weren't so surprising, because often when people excel in music or the arts they are also highly intelligent people. But the three that stood out for me were Mike Judge, Dolph Lundgren and Montel Williams. Not that people with low-brow humor, good looks and smarmy talk-show personas can't be highly intelligent and accomplished engineers--but these three definitely were not what I expected.
Thanks for the list Rob. I already knew about Rowan Atkinson and Mayim Bialik but the rest of the people in the list left me with amazement. Especially Lisa Kudrow, as i am a huge F.R.I.E.N.D.S fan and i have watched the episodes countless times, never knew Lisa was equally good in biology. Though if Lisa had pursued her biology instead of acting, the TV show would have missed one hell of a comedian.
Jeff Foxworthy is another: He was my ICS 1700 lab T/A at Georgia Tech in fall 1978; and he received his Bachelor in Information & Computer Science in spring 1979. He was a software engineer at IBM for about 5 years, performing standup comedy at The Punch Line on Roswell Road in Atlanta, before hitting the big time.
One thing I found interesting was the number of Gen-xers on the list. I would guess that reflects increased college graduation stats. The pool of potential celebs now includes a greater number of college grads. I imagine the number of Millennial celebs will include even more STEM grads.
Apparently this list only includes living celebrities. But if you wanted to extend it to those who previously lived, we need to remember the actress Hedy Lamarr. During WWII she invented the spread spectrum technique of frequency hopping. It was first used during the Cuban missile crisis.
I think most of them persued engineering careers because they needed a backup plan in case they didn't hit it big. I thnk that there a lot of actors out there doing menial jobs in order to survive between acting gigs. IMO, relatively few of them hit it big.
This list blows me away. I had no idea these celebrities had the credentials listed. Good for them. It proves you can be smart and entertaining also. I would love to hear why they chose such difficult fields, investing the time and energy, then moving into other areas. Wonder if it has anything to do with $$$$$$$$$. Great post Rob.
In many engineering workplaces, there’s a generational conflict between recent engineering graduates and older, more experienced engineers. However, a recent study published in the psychology journal Cognition suggests that both may have something to learn from another group: 4 year olds.
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