Welcome to the fourth edi­tion of Know-​​A-​​Scientist, here to test how well we know our scientists.

I’ve changed things up this week, there will no longer be a two-​​part pub­lic­a­tion of this fea­ture, in which the second part reveals the answer of who the chosen sci­ent­ist of the week is.  Know-​​A-​​Scientist will just be one com­pleted post with a photo and a short bio­graphy from the outset.


Can you name this sci­ent­ist before scrolling down to find the answer?


Stop scrolling here if you want to guess before find­ing out the cor­rect answer.

Jill Bolte Taylor (b. 1959)

Born in Kentucky to a maths pro­fessor mother and a father who was an Episcopal min­is­ter, Jill went on to become a neuroana­tom­ist, as well as find­ing her­self amongst 99 other dis­tin­guished people on TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008.

From a very early age, Jill became intrigued with how the brain works because she had noticed that her brother had vary­ing beha­viours and per­son­al­it­ies around dif­fer­ent people.  He was also very intel­li­gent and cre­at­ive; aca­dem­ic­ally bright, enjoyed writ­ing poems and paint­ing.  As he got older, how­ever, his tem­pera­ment revealed a much darker side; expressed in the changes that were observed in what he painted and wrote about.  There were clear signs of psy­chosis.  Just one year after Jill had com­menced a neuroana­tomy doc­toral pro­gram at Indiana State University, her brother was dia­gnosed with schizo­phrenia.  In light of that, Jill had a new drive and decided to focus her research on schizo­phrenia.  She wanted to know what was so dif­fer­ent about her brother’s brain that caused such a severe thought dis­order and the agony it put him through.

She went on to spe­cial­ise her research on the post­mortem human brain of those who suffered from schizo­phrenia and other severe men­tal ill­nesses, and as well as becom­ing a well pub­lished neuroana­tom­ist, she has been an act­ive mem­ber of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) since 1993 and is the pres­id­ent of the organ­isa­tion in Bloomington, Indiana.

Despite her pro­fes­sional suc­cesses, these may not be what she is most fam­ous for.  One morn­ing in 1996, Dr Taylor woke with an agon­ising pain behind her left eye, the pain ebbed away and returned in sporadic waves.  Shortly after­wards, she began to lose her abil­ity to move flu­idly, to talk, to see clearly, even remem­ber who she was; but all these debil­it­ies came and went just as the pain had.  When her right arm went numb, she knew she was hav­ing stroke.  It was later dia­gnosed as an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), which is a very rare — thought to be con­gen­ital — form of stroke.
A golf ball-​​sized blood clot was removed from her brain and it took her eight years to fully recover.  But this exper­i­ence of los­ing the func­tion of the left side of her brain made her stronger.

How many brain sci­ent­ists have been able to study the brain from the inside out?” — Jill Bolte Taylor

In 2008, Jill gave a TED talk entitled “Stroke Of Insight”, which is an amaz­ing present­a­tion about her stroke and her recov­ery jour­ney, and remains the second most watched TED video of all time.  This spring-​​boarded her career into the main stream.  Her auto­bi­o­graphy Stroke Of Insight” became a New York Times best seller, she set up Jill Bolte Taylor BRAINS!, and makes ana­tom­ic­ally cor­rect stained glass brain sculp­tures to sell. All of this strengthened her advocacy for edu­cat­ing and rais­ing aware­ness about men­tal health as well as offer­ing advice and sup­port for oth­ers in their own or their loved one’s neur­o­lo­gical recov­ery.  Her story has inspired many people; so much so that Ron Howard is expec­ted to dir­ect a fea­ture film based on Jill’s life, with Jodie Foster tipped as the most likely to take the lead role.
Thanks for rat­ing this! Now tell the world how you feel — .
How does this post make you feel?
  • Excited
  • Fascinated
  • Amused
  • Bored
  • Sad
  • Angry