I fell in love today.
It all started when I noticed this in the newspaper:
I wanted to know about her and her work. It intrigued me, but I had not heard of this woman before. So I looked her up.
Wow. She was impressive. Another woman scientist I did not know about. If I were still teaching, I'd make sure my students knew that:
- she was a neuroscientist and university professor of anatomy in a career of over 60 years,
- her pathbreaking work on the human brain provided the first solid evidence that the brain is able to develop and grow even in adulthood, and environment and stimulation can change the brain,
- she was known to summarize her theory of brain plasticity with the first to use the phrase, "Use it or lose it,"
- her research culminated in evidence that the 5 factors diet, exercise, challenge, newness, and love can affect the development of the brain,
- she made headlines in the 80s for her research on Einstein's brain, (which arrived at her lab in four thin slices, preserved inside a mayonnaise jar) which found unique differences relating to the the cells that play a crucial role in the cognitive process, (yes, Einstein's brain WAS different!),
- she LOVED the brain, "a three-pound mass of protoplasm that has the capacity to conceive of a universe a billion light years across (isn’t that phenomenal?) ,and yet can turn around and be mad or sad or glad…”
- she was the first female graduate in the anatomy department at UC-Berkeley, the first female science instructor at Cornell, and from 1960 to 2014 was one of the most popoular professors at Berkeley
- the YouTube videos of her anatomy courses have been viewed more than a million times. (That’s because they are interesting, as I found out today watching several parts of them. I don’t remember any of my college courses holding my attention that way. .)
- and, she iconically carried a human brain around with her in a flowered hatbox. Once she flew across the country to visit her daughter at summer camp, carrying two hat boxes: one with a pie, the other with a brain. They ate the pie, and Dr. Diamond brought out the brain for the campers to see and touch.
I will be learning more. If you think you would, too, here are some places to find her:
Her story was related in a PBS documentary, My Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond.