Hakeem Oluseyi: Cultivating a Love for Science

In this episode of Inside Science Conversations Hakeem Oluseyi talks about how he fell in love with science.
Chris Gorski, Editor

In this episode Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi tells host Chris Gorski about how he fell in love with science, and how his interest grew as he went from reading everything he could get his hands on as a young person in the rural south to earning a Ph.D. in physics. Oluseyi shares stories from his book, "A Quantum Life: My Unlikely Journey from the Street to the Stars," as well as his passion for science education and inclusivity for all.

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Here are some excerpts from the interview (the full transcript is available here):

"[T]he time when I really fell in love with books, I was nine years old. And by that time, you know, I had figured out that humans can be somewhat dangerous, right? And, you know, as a species, right, we're a social species, and we bond and I bonded with books instead of, you know, humans so much. I tend to avoid humans and read a lot. ...

"[T]he only books in my house at this point are a set of encyclopedias and the Bible. Well, the Bible was a lot more intimidating because it wasn't in modern English. Okay, so I went for the set of encyclopedias. … I get to E. And I hit Albert Einstein, and I hit the weirdness of relativity. And the thing about it is, you know, the encyclopedia made it clear: This is real. This is not like Marvel Comics. And that to me, was just like, 'You got to be kidding. What?' I had to know everything there was about relativity. ...

"But here's what I noticed [at Stanford]. I looked around the people around me and I was like, you know, you guys aren't intrinsically smarter than the people I knew in South Central LA, Houston's Third Ward in South Park, New Orleans, Ninth Ward, New Orleans, East and in Mississippi. And you're damn sure not harder working. Right? All these people who think poor people aren't working hard, go to any poor community in the morning and watch. And look at a bus stop and see what you see. Right? I've been in that bus stop in the dark."


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The Inside Science Conversations podcast showcases the human side of science. It's about what makes scientists and researchers tick. We'll cover a wide variety of subjects, from record-breaking running to the hidden history of science. Please, like and subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform. Join us as we talk to researchers and authors about their work, their lives and why science is important for everyone.

Author Bio & Story Archive

Chris Gorski is the Senior Editor of Inside Science. Follow him on twitter at @c_gorski.