Improv for scientists, accountants, lawyers, doctors and you

Published on on June 12, 2014

By Kate Torgovnick May

Uri Alon, a physicist turned systems biologist, admits that while studying for his Ph.D., he had a bit of a meltdown. His research was going in loops, all paths leading to dead ends. Because he’d always assumed that his work in science would be a straight line from question to answer, and because scientists don’t talk about the strong emotions that are part of the research experience, he was miserable, alone and lost. And he just didn’t think that scientists were supposed to get lost.

For Alon, a breakthrough came from an unusual source — improvisational theater. No, he didn’t magically find the answer to his research question while in an improv class. But he did find a new way to think about the scientific process. He realized that getting lost is actually a good thing, because only by winding through the murk can you find a truly original answer.

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