Acting scientific

March 31, 2007

The woman on my TV screen looked very familiar. Who was that pregnant schoolteacher leading her students through the walk-through model of the human heart in this 2006 episode (#217, “All In”) of House? Could it be my old Williams College dorm-mate Purva Bedi?

One of my most vivid memories from my junior year in college is of Purva studying synaptic transmission in the hallway of Garfield House. She was taking introductory neuroscience at the time, as I was, but her theatre background was never kept hidden for long. In reviewing the process of how neurons communicate with each other, she first adopted the “persona” of the calcium ions entering the axon terminus through voltage-gated channels, then became the neurotransmitter molecules released from the synaptic vesicles, diffusing across the synaptic cleft, and binding to receptors in the postsynaptic membrane. She performed this micro-scale dance routine with considerable energy and utter conviction.

From my condescending biology-major perspective, I thought Purva’s antics were hilarious. I didn’t exclaim, “Hey, look at the thespian trying to learn science!” but that’s what I was thinking. And yet, when the semester ended, Purva had earned an A+ in the course and I had barely gotten an A.

I’m happy to report that Purva is now a successful actress, with a lot on her resume besides that House appearance, including an upcoming role as the star of When Kiran Met Karen. If her acting luck ever runs out, though, I bet she’d make a great neuroscientist.


  1. Wow! Another example of how hard work paid off. Of course it was in a different manner than your hard work, but that doesn't mean that she didn't understand what was happening. Reminds me of way back when (late 1970's) I was doing analysis of Military communication facilities in the Pacific. One of the guys I was working with kept saying he "thought like an electron" to see how the facility would respond to the electromagnetic field generated by a high altitude nuclear explosion. His analysis agreed very closely with other models we used. The only bad thing about the program was I got sent to Hawai'i about a dozen times when I wanted to be in the Seattle area training and competing (and dating LOL).

  2. Greg,This comment has nothing to do with your last blog entry. But may be as an incentive during the latter part of the race, should it not go as well as you want, it appears the fastest 100k time in the world this year is a 6:56 from the German championships March 24th. (source: IAAF website)So should your real time goal fall out of reach you can still go for a "mere" world leading time.Good luck this weekend!!!!

  3. This has nothing to do with the blog entry I'm commenting on, but I just saw this http://www.runningusa.org/media/wire2007/Wire2007-26.html#story1 and wanted to wish you luck this weekend!

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