What if Scientists Were Like Celebrities? PopTech 2011 Science and Public Leadership Fellows Announced

Forget boring, irrelevant scientists. This crop of nerds will wow you.

Scientists don't rise to celebrity status that often, and for good reason. Many would rather spend their extra hours in the research lab rather than courting public favor. But what if there was a middle ground and scientists could serve as public leaders, shepharding their research through public debates? Would we make fewer stupid decisions?

"Visible scientific leaders shouldn’t be a rarity," says Andrew Zolli, executive director of PopTech. His group's Science and Public Leadership Fellowship takes a creative approach to helping science and technology.

Foster social change: Help scientists not be boring. Or more accurately, help them become public leaders.

PopTech just announced its 2011 fellows , and the list is worth a gander. It features scientists like Milton Garcés , who is trying to build early warning systems based on sound waves, and Adrien Treuille , who wants to use crowdsourcing and computer games to fight diseases. The idea is to help them sell their complex, abstract ideas to the general public in ways that make us care. "If you are able to communicate your ideas, you are able to collaborate with unconventional partners," Zolli says.

For a taste of this unique philosophy, here's a video about the program from last year's PopTech conference. We're eager to see what this batch comes up with.

[vimeo] [/vimeo]