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Jay Ingram

Science Writer & Broadcaster

Science broadcaster and writer Jay Ingram was co-host of Discovery Channel’s science show, Daily Planet for 16 years. It remains television’s only daily hour-long prime-time science and nature news magazine. Jay joined Discovery in 1994 and was instrumental in helping shape the program format.

Calgary, AB, Canada

Presentations

The End of Memory
Alzheimer’s, called ‘the plague of the 21st century’ for its dramatic increase in numbers and the challenge it poses to health care. There are no effective treatments, merely a handful of drugs that promise only short-lived alleviation of symptoms. But as familiar as we are with Alzheimer’s disease among friends and family, there are so many questions: where did it come from? Why weren’t we talking about it even fifty years ago? Do we understand what really is going on in the disease? A hundred years ago Alzheimer identified the key markers of the disease, and we still rely on them today. Maybe it’s time for a rethink. And where will we find treatments – and when?

The Rock’n’Roll History of Space Exploration
What is it about the idea of journeying to other planets that is so compelling – so addictive? And why has Mars always been the centrepiece? This show is a celebration of our obsession with the planet Mars. There is imagery from a century ago; radio from the 1930s; art and science from the 1950s. And such characters: Percival Lowell, the man who popularized the idea that there were canals on Mars built by a dwindling Martian civilization, Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose fame owed more to his Barsoom series than to Tarzan, and H.G. and Orson (Wells and Welles). Of course there is also great music by my band, The Free Radicals,; the perfect accompaniment to an underappreciated era.

Darwin’s Sexy Science
A controversial view of human sexual behaviour attributes much of it to Darwin’s natural selection, not to culture. It can’t be all Darwin, but it can’t be entirely Darwin-free either. Given that the research explores everything from the importance of bling to lap-dancing, this talk gets laughs even from those who disagree with it. Always presented with my band The Mutations.

Truth, an Inconvenience
A commonly held misconception, especially among experts, is that when it comes to scientific controversies, differences of opinion exist only because of ignorance. When people know the science better, they’ll see the ‘truth’. Wrong. Polarized opinions have a social/cultural, not scientific, basis. This talk is often presented with my band The Turbines.

Theatre of the Mind
Based on my book of the same name, this talk explores how the scientific approach to consciousness has, if not revolutionized, at the very least reoriented the search for understanding of human consciousness. The science reveals that the idea that consciousness is pre-eminent among all the things our brains do is a myth, probably promulgated by …. consciousness itself.

Jay customizes talks based on the nature of the event he is speaking at.

Awards

2005
Order of Canada

  • Ingram is a wizard at transforming complex curiosities of the natural and physical sciences into entertaining anecdotes.

    - The Edmonton Sun
  • With his trademark wit and wonderment, Ingram makes the science of our lives accessible and fascinating.

    - Avalon Publishing Group Inc.
  • Ingram . . . acts as a kind of cross between a clear-eyed journalist and a tongue-in-cheek comedian.

    - The Globe and Mail

Summary Profile

From 1979 to 1992, Ingram hosted CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks and earned two ACTRA Awards, one for Best Host. In 1992 and 1993, Ingram hosted two CBC Radio series: Cranial Pursuits, a series “by, for and about the brain”, and The Talk Show, a series bout language that won a Science in Society Journalism Award.

For 10 years, Jay wrote articles for popular children’s publication Owl Magazine. He wrote a weekly science column for the Toronto Star for 12 years, and is currently a columnist for Canadian Wildlife magazine.

Since 2005 he was been Chair of the Science Communications Program at the Banff Centre, a unique undertaking to promote creative science writing, broadcasting and social media. He is also co-founder of Beakerhead, an arts and engineering happening which began in 2013 in Calgary, Alberta.

In 1984, Jay was awarded the Sandford Fleming Medal from the Royal Canadian Institute for his efforts to popularize science, and he also earned the Royal Society of Canada’s McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science in 1997. In 2000, Jay was awarded a Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Alberta, and has received five honorary doctorates. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2009 he was named to The Order of Canada.

Jay has written numerous books, three of which have won Canadian Science Writers’ Awards and almost all of which have been on the bestseller list. They have been translated into 14 languages. He is the 2015 recipient of the Walter C. Alvarez award for medical writing given by the American Medical Writers Association. Jay is an engaging, provocative speaker who can address complex, scientific issues in non-technical terms, making them interesting, relevant and accessible to a wide range of audiences.