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While the world of fame may seem largely reserved for drunken and disorderly pop stars, marriage, divorce and offspring, the reality is that many celebrities have actually pursued academic endeavours outside of showbiz. Below, we list the top 5 celebrities you didn’t know have a scientific degree.

1. Natalie Portman

Apart from winning an Oscar, Natalie Portman has also pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology through Harvard University. Her 1998 high school paper, ‘A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar,’ which she co-authored with scientists Ian Hurley and Jonathan Woodward, was entered into the 2002 Intel Science Talent Search, where she progressed to the semi finals.

Despite entering the world of fame in her teens, this clever cookie missed the premier of the first of three Star Wars prequels – The Phantom Menace – that she starred in, simply so that she could study for her high school exams. While in University, she contributed to a study on memory called ‘Frontal lobe activation during object permanence: data from near-infrared spectroscopy’. In an interview with Reuters, she was quoted as saying, "I don't care if college ruins my career. I'd rather be smart than be a movie star."

2. Dolph Lundgren

After graduating from high school with straight As, Dolph Lundgren spent some time in the United States in the 1970s on various academic scholarships, studying chemistry at Washington State University and Clemson University. He received a degree in Chemistry from Washington State University, following in the footsteps of his father and elder brother. In the late 1970s, he enrolled at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and graduated with a degree in chemical engineering.

3. Lisa Kudrow

Lisa Kudrow is certainly not the stereotypical dumb blonde that she portrayed in her role as Phoebe in ‘Friends’. Her academic achievements far surpass her croaking, coffee shop melodies about smelly cats. When she graduated from high school, she then moved on to get her higher education at Vassar College. At Vassar, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. In a speech taken from the Vassar College Website, she was quoted as saying, “When I was a kid, I did want to be an actress, but when I took biology in high school, I was hooked. The biological theories I learned, to me were the height of creativity. So I pursued my passion for biology and wherever that would lead me.”

4. Brian May

Most people know Brian May as the lead guitarist who strummed out hair-raising riffs for some of the best-loved songs from the hit band, Queen. However, before he was a band geek, he was a science geek! He studied physics and mathematics at Imperial College London, graduating with a BSc (Hons) degree and ARCS in physics with Upper Second-Class Honours. Although he abandoned his doctoral studies when Queen began to generate international recognition, he co-authored two scientific research papers, which were based on his observations at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife. During the New Horizons Pluto flyby NASA press conference held on 17 July 2015 at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Brian May was introduced as a science team collaborator. He told the panel, "You have inspired the world."

5. Mayim Bialik

Perhaps best known for her role in Big Bang Theory, it’s no surprise that Mayim Bialik took a break from acting to study neuroscience at the University of California in LA. It is said that her scientific background helped land her a role on the show. She has also written a book about parenting based on the science of hormones involved in parent-child bonding, which was released by Simon & Schuster in 2012. In a CNN article, she said, "Not that you need a neuroscience degree to be a good parent, but my reflections on parenting are absolutely informed by my understanding of the hormones of attachment, which were the subject of my thesis.”


Are you a Science Geek?

Do you have a passion for concocting chemical formulas in a lab, feel fascinated by evolving breakthroughs in clinical research, or fancy yourself as a specialist in all things environmental? At Search, we recruit for a wide range of jobs within the scientific sector. You can view our listings here, or contact our go-to guy in scientific recruitment, Ramalingam Elangovan on 0161 835 8317!

*Image Credits:

  • Natalie Portman - Photograph by Georges Biard
  • Dolph Lundgren - Photograph by Alan Light
  • Lisa Kudrow - Photograph by TheBuiBrothers.com
  • Queen Performing - Photograph by Carl Lender
  • Mayim Bialik - Photograph by Dominick D