AHNA SKOP, PhD
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON
Too Creative for Science?
If people were asked to identify a creative person, most of them would describe an artist. Why not a scientist? Pablo Picasso once said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one once we grow up.”
At a time when fostering creativity has waned in education and standardized tests have received increasing attention, Ahna Skop, who is both a genetics professor and an artist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, refuses to accept this trend. Through her experience and work, she demonstrates that creativity is a driving force in art as well as science, and that empowering creativity in the classroom proves to be beneficial to students, particularly those who struggle with standard approaches to learning.
About the Speaker
Dr. Ahna Skop is a professor in the Department of Genetics at University of Wisconsin-Madison where she runs a lab that investigates the molecules and mechanisms that control how cells divide during embryonic development. Her team studies these fundamental aspects of cell division using the research organism C. elegans, a free-living nematode.
Recognizing that scientists’ curiosity often originates in observing the beauty of nature, she curates art exhibits that promote the beauty of science. Her unique background inspires her to think differently and maintain an open mind as she brings together scientists and artists around the topic of creativity.
Skop has also established several successful recruitment and retention programs for underrepresented students and has served as the Chair of Equity and Diversity in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at UW-Madison. She has received the Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Award for her outreach and inclusive teaching efforts, and Sloan Foundation support for the STEM Diversity Network to connect students with campus advocates. She has served as a board member for SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) and was recently elected to the ASCB (American Society for Cell Biology) Minority Affairs Committee.
A winner of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and the 2018 ASCB Prize for Excellence in Inclusivity, she has had her science and art featured by Apple, The Scientist, USA Today, Smithsonian, PBS.org, NPR, and Science.