Greg Gage

Let’s spark the neuro-revolution in our schools—and start careers, cure disease, and change business.

TED Speaker | Neuroscientist | Cofounder and CEO of Backyard Brains

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Greg Gage | TED Speaker | Neuroscientist | Cofounder and CEO of Backyard Brains
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Greg Gage is starting a neuro-revolution—or “neuroscience for the 99%.” That means affordable, DIY labs in classrooms around the world. From his live experiments on the TED stage (now with over 8 million views!) to his appearances on CNN and Netflix, Gage is a brilliant scientist instilling a love for the brain in kids everywhere: a generation poised to cure neurological disorders and spearhead bio-infused design. 

“He’s a globe-trekking scientist, teacher, and entrepreneur, but what earns him a spot on the Next List is his ability to interpret neuroscience for everyone—with an innovation that can help shape a better world.”

— CNN

Greg Gage is a charismatic, visionary scientist who’s revolutionizing, and democratizing, how we teach, talk about, and apply groundbreaking innovations around the brain. As Co-founder of the company Backyard Brains, he’s dragging neuroscience out of graduate school and making it available to everyone, offering kits and resources to schools that get students experimenting with how neurons fire, how our nervous system operates, how we move and think and feel. Today, it’s estimated that over a billion people suffer from neurological disorders. So Gage knows that getting kids passionate about science early not only means more careers in the STEM fields, but new cures for seemingly untreatable illnesses. 

 

“Greg Gage is a reliable source of both shock and awe at TED ... Prepare to be amazed.”

— TED

As a TED Speaker—with videos viewed over 8 million times—he’s dazzled audiences with live, interactive demonstrations at TED2017, TED2015, TEDGlobal, TED-Ed, and at numerous TEDx events, giving rise to huge laughs and profound, “ah-ha!” moments. With his “Spiker Box,” he’s allowed users to manipulate other people’s limbs—with the mind alone. With his “RoboRoach,” he’s created the first commercial cyborg: a cockroach fitted with an electric backpack which allows users to control it using an app. And at TED2017, he gave a live example of how plants use electrical signals to move, feed, and even count. He made CNN’s influential “Next List,” was featured on Netflix’s new series White Rabbit Project, and even had his experiments employed live on the Today Show. His work has been featured in Popular Science, the Huffington Post, Daily Mail, The Scientist, Ozy, and beyond. 

 

“Most high school students don’t consider a neuroscience career — but that could be because they’ve never been exposed to it. So Backyard Brains brings the Ph.D.-level neuroscience lab to the classroom, stripping cutting-edge equipment down to its affordable, kid-friendly equivalent.”

Ozy

His current projects are revolutionary, to say the least. His “Learn While You Sleep” project is developing ways we can increase and strengthen our memories—and even introduce memories—during slow wave sleep. With “The Killer Dragonflies,” he’s applying DIY sensors to dragonflies to show how they lock onto prey, capture it within milliseconds, and enjoy a 97% rate of accuracy—offering profound implications for improving human balance and vision. And his “DIY Mind-Reading” project reveals that we can actually observe brain-wave responses in subjects while doing simple tasks—like looking at photographs—in real time.

 

Gage is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the United States “Champions of Change” award, presented at the White House for his work in promoting citizen science, and the “Next Generation Award” from the Society of Neuroscience for his “outstanding contributions to public outreach and science education.” He has been funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and Start-up Chile to bring Backyard Brains experiments and teaching tools into Spanish for Latin American markets. 

 

Currently, Gage is dedicated to advanced education as much as bringing neuroscience to adolescents. He is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Neuroscience Program at Michigan State University, and is a Lecturer in Methods in Computational Neuroscience at the Marine Biological Laboratory. He holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, an M.E. in Computer Engineering from the University of South Carolina, and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University.

Speech Topics

Education
Backyard Brains Inspiring the Next Generation of Neuroscientists

In many ways, when it comes to understanding the brain, we’re still in the dark ages. And that’s because neuroscience is only taught in graduate schools, with expensive equipment. But what if we could instill a love for the brain in younger students, bring the science back down to the most basic, inexpensive forms, and bring the work done in the lab into the average classroom? Greg Gage is doing this, right now—changing neuroscience education for good, and helping to kickstart a profound revolution. In this inspiring keynote, he explains how studying neuroscience is not only easier than ever (with connected devices, the Internet of Things, smartphones, and more), but may be the key to unlocking a host of innovations in the world of tech and design. The implications for medicine are also incredible—neurological ailments like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy affect approximately 20 percent of the world’s population. So why wait until graduate school to start studying the nervous system, memory, brain waves, or the senses? With cutting edge examples and experiments, Gage explains how a better understanding of the brain might transform your industry—whether in education, health care, design, business, or beyond. 

Neuroscience
Live Science Practical Neuroscience and Jaw-Dropping Entertainment

In this energetic, interactive, and highly entertaining talk, Greg Gage offers live experiments on-stage, showing how our brains receive and deliver electric responses. Whether employing a SpikerBox to show how signals from the brain can be used to have a stranger control your arm, or revealing how plants use electric signals to avoid predators and catch prey, Gage makes neuroscience fun and accessible, and hints at the many implications for medicine, therapy, business, design, and technology that a better understanding of the brain entails. These performances also provide astounding “Aha!” moments for audience members, breaking down the assumed barriers of neuroscience research—too expensive, too complicated, too advanced—and showing students that hands-on learning about the brain is possible, right here and right now. Ths is an unforgettable experience that will have your audience buzzing with excitement (and maybe electricity!).