History of the Alda Center
Actor, author, and activist Alan Alda’s lifelong passion for science spurred him to host the PBS show “Scientific American Frontiers.” On the show, he used his theater experience to build relationships with scientists. In talking to him, they explained their work in ways that Alan and the show’s viewers could understand.
By building personal connections, Alan got scientists out of lecture mode and into conversation.
Alan wondered why scientists had a hard time talking to non-experts about their research. He thought exposing them to improvisation might help.
Building on an Idea
In 2009, Stony Brook University opened the Center for Communicating Science, a collaboration between Alan, Stony Brook, and Stony Brook's School of Communication and Journalism, with Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
The idea worked. Using applied Improvisational exercises and communication strategies helped scientists share their work and its impact.