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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Big Brains Podcast

Finalist in Podcast


The Big Brains podcast explores the world of ideas by engaging with the pioneering research and pivotal breakthroughs happening at the University of Chicago and universities across the country. From the health costs of air pollution to the history of space travel: each bite-sized, artfully produced episode marries conversation and rigorous analysis in a unique format. Big Brains distills complex academic and scientific research into easy-to-understand concepts that any listener could share at a dinner table conversation and use to fight misinformation. We search for academic research and leading experts who are addressing society’s biggest issues.

Our podcast examines complicated topics and how they affect our world, creating space for intellectual discourse and discovery.  The Big Brains podcast is committed to making academic research accessible to the general public, as we are founded on the very idea that knowledge should be accessible to all.

Strategy and Execution

The Big Brains podcast was created to bring cutting-edge research and scholarly insights from the University of Chicago to a broader audience, fostering a deeper understanding of complex topics and ideas. We recognized that many of today's pressing challenges require interdisciplinary perspectives and solutions, but these discussions only took place in an academic setting. Thus, we realized the importance of sharing this knowledge beyond academia.

The most difficult challenge to overcome to meet our goal is how to turn complex and esoteric interviews – with complex and esoteric people – into episodes that are accessible and interesting to anyone.  We’ve overcome that challenge by designing a unique format for the podcast that combines the most personable and interesting bits from interviews with narrative and explanatory scripting. We also utilize music, tape and other dynamic editing processes to make things compelling and understandable.

Big Brains showcases a diverse range of topics from a spectrum of guests ranging from Nobel laureates to business leaders. However, a diverse range of knowledge comes with a range of opinions: we have discussed complex topics ranging from artificial intelligence to inequality, the obesity crisis and healthcare reform. Many of these controversial topics have sparked conversations that have led to some challenges. We try our best to create space for all opinions, allowing for everyone to take part in these discussions.

To bring Big Brains to the next level, we implemented marketing and content strategies to reach a wider audience by leveraging new digital marketing tactics, which included:


The podcast’s objective is rooted in the aim to connect academic research to real-world issues, demonstrating the practical applications and relevance of scholarly work and fighting misinformation. This connection helps listeners understand how research can address and impact pressing societal challenges.

By adopting a more conversational tone, expanding our guests across the University of Chicago and other leading universities, and leveraging new digital marketing tactics, the podcast has become more accessible to a wider audience and the results were astonishing—as we saw a tremendous year growing our listenership.


Video for Big Brains Podcast

Entrant Company / Organization Name

University of Chicago University Communications


Entry Credits