TEDxISU: Behind the Scenes with Sarah Jane Pell

By Drew Lacy, Communication ‘14

I was lucky enough to attend TEDxISU, which was held on campus this past July (read more about it from my previous blog post). In the breaks between speeches, I had the opportunity to sneak behind the scenes (and sometimes through the crowds) to interview some of the speakers. I’ll be the first to admit it was a little nerve-wracking, approaching space exploration icons who moments ago were presenting some of the most innovative ideas in technology and science. I’ve done many an interview for the Crimson, but there’s just something about being on camera that had me nervous.

I started out interviewing the elegant Sarah Jane Pell, whose speech on the interaction between artists and scientists swept away the conventional line of separation between the two groups. As someone leaning toward the more artistic side of things but with an underlying love of science, it was refreshing, maybe even a little comforting, to hear a speech about the advantages of bringing the two disciplines closer.

We took advantage of a dimly lit stairwell by the stage as a quiet refuge from the mingling crowd (talk about “behind the scenes”!) and started the interview. Dodging stage crews and speakers moving up and down the stairwell, we talked about the sometimes delicate process of bringing together the arts and science to find new and fresh ways of looking at ideas:

In the end, Sarah’s viewpoint was a realistic one. Bringing together scientists and artists isn’t always easy, and the groups aren’t exactly interchangeable, but the advantages of having a unique vantage point to look over a problem are countless.

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