Physicist and Science Educator
Debbie Berebichez grew up in a community in Mexico where girls were discouraged from obtaining a higher education—especially in mathematics or science. Berebichez hid her love of physics, but continued to study; two years into a philosophy degree, she confided in a good friend that she desperately wanted a career in physics. She then completed a four-year degree in two years, and went on to complete her PhD at Stanford.
Since then, Berebichez has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, hosted an online series about seeing the world through “physics glasses,” and invented a new technology that localizes wireless signals in specific locations within buildings. Presently, she is Vice President of Risk Analysis at Wall Street’s top risk firm, MSCI Inc. She continues to work closely with her advisor, Nobel Laureate Robert Laughlin, on promoting the public understanding of science. Berebichez is an internationally recognized science TV host appearing as a physics expert in shows on National Geographic and Discovery Channel International. She has done important scientific research and invented highly effective techniques in the fields of wireless communications and nanotechnology and authored an important book on the subject.
Berebichez also pursued two postdoctoral fellowships in applied mathematics and physics, and conducted further research at Columbia as well as at New York University. A Summa Cum Laude B.A. graduate of Brandeis, she received a full Wien Scholarship and was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her B.A. in both philosophy and physics infused her with a passion for expressing her scientific thoughts through media. She has extensive on-camera experience, and speaks five languages.
Seeing the World Through “Physics Glasses”
Young people seem to take easily to science. They ask, “Why does this work the way it does?” and then seek out answers. But as we grow older, interest tapers, curiosity ceases, and many of us become scientifically illiterate. (And this has consequences, such as the trend toward uncritically accepting mythical and magical concepts.) In this entertaining talk, Debbie Berebichez explains how science works—how it informs everything in our lives—and, importantly, why it matters. A “creative” type whose talk is both fun and important, Berebichez talks about her own very cool scientific work, her personal story, and how to “put on physics glasses” to recharge your interest, and to see the world in an entirely new light.
If you look around, advertisements about "big data" being a new discipline are ubiquitous. Articles discussing this "hot new career" and how governments have yet to begin tracking data scientist occupational information are everywhere. Well, it's a myth! While the application of big data concepts and techniques to technology problems is recent, the history of big data is arguably quite old.
Debbie Berebichez will provide examples from physics and Wall Street to show your audience how big data has been employed by these two fields for a long time-- yet both fields remain absent from the big data conversation. Why is that? By exploring the historical uses, misuses and successes of big data in these two important fields we may be able to avoid some of its common pitfalls. Berebichez also points out the potential dangers of our obsession with Big Data: some of the more profound problems in the history of the world have been solved with smaller data sets and simpler techniques. In the words of the Harvard Business Review: "Big data", no matter how comprehensive or well analyzed, needs to be complemented by "big judgment.“ Berebichez helps you to navigate through the history and future of Big Data and explains when (and why) it might be time to leave it alone altogether.
Where Have They Gone? Immigration, Innovation, and the American Brain Drain
America has an innovation problem: many of its best minds are leaving the country. That’s because they’re immigrants, and our system discourages them from working here as scientists or academics, and in other crucial fields. As a result, innovation and productivity falter, and we fall further out of step with advances in the global economy. In this talk, Debbie Berebichez, a talented scientist and accessible speaker, offers an on-the-ground perspective. After completing her PhD, Berebichez was faced with the tough task of getting a Green Card—an especially daunting task for academics. (Trained as a physicist, and successful as a scientist, she currently works on Wall Street, as a risk analyst). With a moving narrative, and reasoned thinking, she shows us the reality of an immigration system that is crippling innovation. What can be done to attract, retain, and benefit from the creative people who, right now, have no choice but to find success somewhere else?
A Finance Talk
As VP of financial risk at MSCI, Debbie Berebichez uses her quantitative skills to advise top tier banks and hedge funds on managing portfolio risk. In this talk, Berebichez flexes her finance muscle- and it's just as strong as her physics one. She has been called on to speak at several financial and data conferences, amd with a Wall Street perspective and a scientific angle, Berebichez offers fresh and completely unique advice on risk analysis.
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