HOST: Baba Brinkman
PARTICIPANTS: Jamie Simmonds, Michelle Khine, Amanda Kinchla, Edwin Olson, Katherine Isbister, Holly Robbins
PROGRAM DATE: Sunday, June 2, 2013

The World Science Festival’s highly celebrated program, Cool Jobs, is back with an astounding line-up of the coolest scientists around. Curious about developing a team of robots that can search and rescue while mapping their surroundings? Did you know it takes a scientist to make our grocery store foods delicious? Think it’s possible to shrink a lab test so small that you can’t see it? Or make interactive games that aren’t in a computer? Look no further! The World Science Festival has assembled the coolest group of scientists with the coolest jobs who will answer these questions and much more. Start on your own quest to find your Cool Job—a science Job!

This program is supported by Time Warner Cable.

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Rap Artist, Writer

Canadian rap artist, writer, and former tree-planter, Baba Brinkman has personally planted more than one million trees in the Rocky Mountains. After graduating with an M.A. in comparative literature in 2003, he began his career as a rap troubadour. To date, Brinkman has released seven solo albums and written or co-written four hip-hop theatre shows—winning three awards and entertaining thousands of people during his six seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

His lyrical masterpiece, The Rap Guide to Evolution, won the prestigious Scotsman Fringe First Award in Edinburgh in 2009, and was nominated for a 2012 Drama Desk Award. The show has been performed off-Broadway and on tour in the USA, Australia, and the UK, in addition to several TEDx conferences and on The Rachel Maddow Show on U.S. national television. Brinkman is a recent winner of the National Center for Science Education’s “Friend of Darwin Award” for his efforts to increase the public appreciation of evolutionary biology.


Producer, Sound Engineer, DJ

Jamie Simmonds is a professionally trained producer, audio engineer, and performer who specializes in hip-hop, theater, and custom projects. He has worked with several record labels such as NTone (Ninja Tune), K7, and Crammed/SSR, as well as major label artists like Alison Goldfrapp, Leftfield, and Pressure Drop. Simmonds is currently specializing in producing and mastering hip-hop and electronic music, and writing original soundtracks for critically acclaimed and award winning theater productions, including off-Broadway hits such as The Rap Guide to Evolution, The Canterbury Tales Remixed, and Ingenious Nature.

Biomedical Engineer

Michelle Khine is an associate professor of biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, and materials science at University of California, Irvine. She was an assistant & founding professor at U.C. Merced from 2006 to 2009. Khine received her B.S. and M.S. from U.C. Berkeley in mechanical engineering in 19999 and 20001 respectively. She earned her Ph.D., under Luke P. Lee, in bioengineering at U.C. Berkeley and U.C. San Francisco in 2005. She was the scientific founder of Fluxion Biosciences, Shrink Nanotechnologies, and most recently, Novoheart.

Food Scientist

Amanda Kinchla is the Food Science Extension Specialist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She leads a new Food Science Extension program at UMass that focuses on applied research and food science education to support the Massachusetts and national food industry. Kinchla has over 15 years of product development success supporting product development research from concept to commercialization, as well as addressing technical challenges that target specific product and business needs. In addition, she has extensive experience in applied food microbiology and conducts research in all aspects of food safety from farm to fork. Her responsibilities include developing educational programs and collaborating with other faculty to offer workshops, conferences, distance education, and training events for the food industry.


Edwin Olson is an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on autonomous robots, ranging from self-driving cars to teams of robots that work together to perform search and rescue missions. He received a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008 for his work in robust robot mapping.

In 2010, he led the winning team in the MAGIC 2010 competition by developing a team of 14 robots that semi-autonomously explored and mapped a large-scale urban environment, winning $750,000. In 2007, he worked on MIT’s autonomous car which finished fourth in the DARPA Urban Challenge. In September 2012, he was named one of Popular Science’s “Brilliant Ten.” His academic papers have been cited over 1,000 times, and his open-source software has been widely distributed.

Computer Scientist

Katherine Isbister has a joint appointment between the NYU-Poly computer science department and the NYU Game Center. Isbister is research director of the Game Innovation Lab at NYU-Poly, and an investigator in the NYU Games for Learning Institute. Her research in human computer interaction focuses on enhancing the social and emotional range of everyday interaction with technology. Isbister’s book on game character design—Better Game Characters by Design: A Psychological Approach—was nominated for a Game Developer Magazine Frontline award. Her edited volume, Game Usability, brings together best practices in game playtesting and user research. In 1999, Isbister was selected as one of MIT Technology Review’s Young Innovators, and she received a Humboldt Experienced Researcher award in 2011. Her research has been covered in Wired, Scientific American, and on NPR and BBC radio.

Human Computer Interaction Researcher

Holly Robbins is a recent graduate of NYU’s master’s program in media culture and communication. Her research area is human computer interaction with a special focus on qualitative methodologies from anthropology. Robbins works with NYU-Poly’s game innovation lab integrating ethnography and social theory into developing new technologies. In addition to her lab work, Robbins is a freelance user research, user experience, and interaction design consultant. She earned her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 2007 with a concentration in anthropology. Prior to pursuing her graduate degree, she served as a political research analyst for an embassy in Washington, DC.