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What Is Sleep?

Sunday, May 31, 2015
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

What is sleep? Why do we dream? And what goes on in sleeping brains—from the tiny fruit fly’s to ours? In this program, Alan Alda talks with top sleep researchers and also highlights the winners of the 2015 Flame Challenge, in which video and written explanations of sleep were judged by 20,000 eleven year-olds.

This program is in association with the Flame Challenge, an annual contest held by The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.

Photograph: Jon Smith


Alan AldaActor, Author, Director

Alan Alda, a seven-time Emmy® Award winner, played Hawkeye Pierce and wrote many of the episodes on the classic TV series M*A*S*H. He has starred in, written, and directed many films, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Aviator.

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Mary CarskadonSleep Researcher

Professor Mary Carskadon is an authority on adolescent sleep. Her research raised public awareness about the consequences of insufficient sleep in adolescents and influenced education policy, prompting school districts to delay school start times for teens.

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Paul ShawNeuroscientist

Paul Shaw received his Ph.D. working with Allan Rechtschaffen at the University of Chicago investigating the effects of chronic total sleep deprivation in the rat. He subsequently joined the Neurosciences Institute as a postdoctoral fellow with Giulio Tononi where they began using the fruit fly as a model system to identify molecules that play critical roles in regulating sleep homeostasis.

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Robert StickgoldCognitive Neuroscientist

Robert Stickgold is an associate professor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. He received his B.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, both in biochemistry. He has published over 100 scientific publications.

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Matthew WilsonNeuroscientist, Dream Researcher

Matthew Wilson is Sherman Fairchild Professor of Neuroscience and Picower Scholar at MIT. His lab is interested in teasing apart the mechanisms of sleep and arousal, and applications of neuroscience in engineering and the study of intelligence.

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