Marian Diamond is a rock star of UC Berkeley.
At 83, with her hair swept up in a chignon and always elegantly dressed, Diamond’s classes on Integrative Biology routinely draw more than 750 students.
But that is not the source of her popularity. She is a rock star because she has gone viral.
Diamond’s lectures on human anatomy have been posted on You Tube. One of her lectures is the second-most popular “open education” lecture in the world, according to a recent article in the New York Times. It has been viewed 1.5 million times since 2005.
“She begins by opening a colorful hatbox,” the reporter for the Times wrote in describing one of her televised lectures. “Dressed in an elegant suit and scarf with her hair swept back into a chignon, Professor Diamond pulls on a pair of latex gloves and reveals the box’s contents: a human brain. It is in alcohol, she says, “because alcohol will preserve the brain. Need I say more?” The students laugh as they take this in. She has the room in the palm of her hands.”
Other UC Berkeley professors are also popular in the on-line world. In fact, Berkeley professors’ lectures take three spots in the Times’ list of the most-viewed open education lectures.
Richard A. Muller’s lecture on Physics for Future Presidents comes right behind Diamond’s lecture. (Muller also won a Northern California Book Award for his book on the subject.) Sims 141: Search Engines, Technology, and Science holds #6 position on the most-viewed list. The course is taught by Professor Marti Hearst, but this lecture has a guest speaker: Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google.
Diamond’s specialty is neuroanatomy. A former director of the Lawrence Hall of Science, she has spent time in Cambodia in recent years, studying the impact of diet and living conditions on impoverished children.