Carnegie Mellon scientist shows brains can be sexy, too
The words “science” and “sexy” aren't often spoken in the same sentence.
But somehow they work when referring to Heather Knight.
The Ph.D candidate at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland was selected as one of the sexiest scientists alive by www.businessinsider.com.
She came in at No. 4.
“I had to laugh a little when I heard about this,” says Knight, a Lexington, Mass., native. “But I think that most human beings are multidimensional, and that there shouldn't be a stereotype of scientists looking a certain way. We can be whoever we want to be.”
Knight is one of 50 scientists — male and female — who were recognized. They aren't your typical lab coat-wearing, messy-haired brainiacs, the story says.
Some are rising stars. Some are well-established in their field. All are making a difference, or on their way to, by improving peoples' lives through research and new discoveries, says Dina Spector, associate editor at Business Insider out of New York City, who, with Jennifer Polland, lists and rankings editor, wrote the piece.
Their choices were compiled based on Internet searches and information from resources such as TedTalk, a business and Internet-technology radio show.
They chose people based on their intelligence, ambition, accomplishments, and yes, physical attractiveness, thinking that it's all of those qualities that give someone “sex appeal.”
“Attractiveness was a factor, and we believe sex appeal encompasses intelligence and ambition and the research they are doing as scientists or engineers,” Spector says.
This is one in a series of Business Insider “sexy” lists, such as the sexiest CEOs and sexiest people in technology.
“We thought it would be fun and something different and something that people would like to read,” says Spector. “And, we found that you definitely don't have to be one or the other … you can be both. You can have brains and be sexy. And it is not just about physical features.”
In their quest, Knight's name popped up. Spector and Polland felt Knight was not only good looking, she is extremely accomplished. Knight has both a master's degree and a bachelor's degree in electrical and mechanical engineering from MIT. She founded Marilyn Monrobot Labs , which creates socially intelligent robot performances and sensor-based electronic art. Her robotic installations have been featured at the Smithsonian-Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and PopTech. Last year, she was part of “Cyborg Cabaret,” a talent show at the New Hazlett Theatre on the North Side that explored the themes of humans, robots and cyborg relationships.
“There is no reason why we have to make a choice between science and beauty,” says Knight, who is expecting her first child. “I was shy about being in a technical field, and dressing however I wanted when I first got to MIT, but it gets easier as I get older.”
She is not always consumed by science. Knight enjoys salsa dancing, karaoke (Alanis Morissette is her favorite), travel and film festivals.
Knight says having many interests is a good thing. In today's world, more and more people are overcoming the stereotypes that might be associated with their interests.
“I shouldn't have to make a choice between science and beauty,” she says. “It is good to be multidimensional. I have always been that way. When I was 8, I wanted to be both a banker and a ballerina. I was never really good at choosing one path.”
An example of that is her work with robots and entertainment. She competes as a Robo-Tech on “Robot Combat League,” a reality competition which premiered Feb. 26 on SyFy. She says she loves putting robots on stage in front of an audience. These are 8-feet tall, 800-pound robots, which box via a remote control.
Knight has an art background and likes doing exhibitions that are interactive. She loves bringing technology on the stage, but doesn't see herself in the limelight.
“I am more in the background kind of person,” she says. “The robot is confident on stage. The robot is not afraid.”
As far as her Sexy Scientists honor, she says, “Creativity and technical prowess are absolutely sexy.
“I believe it's more a celebration of people rather than just a rating of hotness.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7889.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alpha sizing aims to simplify clothes shopping for casual wear
- Fashion FYI: Pittsburgh artists create fashion specs for charity