Get to Know TEDxBroadway 2015 Speaker … Dr. Laurie Santos

Before we once again ask, “What Is the Best Broadway Can Be?” on Monday, February 23, 2015, at New World Stages, we’re asking our TEDxBroadway 2015 speakers to tell us a little more about themselves.

laurie_santos_oDr. Laurie Santos, associate professor of psychology at Yale University, is a cognitive psychologist who studies the evolution of human cognition by exploring how animals think about the world. She was recently voted one of the “Brilliant 10 Young Minds” by Popular Science magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @lauriesantos.

Where are you originally from?
I grew up in New Bedford, Mass.

What do you do for a living, and how did you get into that field?
I’m a cognitive psychologist who’s fascinated with the stuff that makes humans special — why we have language and culture and Broadway shows and TED talks, and no other species does. My day job involves studying this question by exploring how other animals think about the world. As a psychology professor at Yale, I spend a lot of time hanging out with monkeys and trying to figure out how they think.

What was the first Broadway show you ever saw?
My first Broadway show — and probably my favorite musical ever — was Peter Pan. I was four years old and it was my first trip to New York. Seeing Sandy Duncan flying on stage is one of my fondest memories.

Do you have a favorite Broadway show? If so, which one?
My favorite Broadway show is probably Noises Off. It’s super funny, and it nicely plays off the psychology of seeing things from different perspectives, something I study in my work with primates.

What book are you reading now?
Well, I just came from a long flight back from my monkey field site in England. And I like to have some very indulgent reading on planes. So … what I’m really reading right now is Bobbie Brown’s memoir Dirty Rocker Boys. I’m a sucker for celebrity autobiographies, especially ones about the ’80s rock world. And this was fantastic. Next on my list is Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself.

Do you have a skill or talent that not many people know about? Tell us.
Hmm. I have two skills that are kind of weird. First, I like taking pictures of animal feet (You can read more about this strange hobby here). I’m also a huge Star Wars buff, and know all the words to Episode 4 (including the strange alien languages).

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