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Kayt Sukel

Cultural Scientist & Author, The Art of Risk & This is Your Brain On Sex
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Biography

A cultural scientist, passionate traveler and science journalist, Sukel has no problem tackling interesting (and often taboo) subjects spanning love, sex, risk taking, neuroscience, travel and politics. She knows more about sex than you do. (According to Forbes, at any rate…)

Her work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the New Scientist, USA Today, Pacific Standard, the Washington Post, ISLANDS, Parenting, the Bark, American Baby, National Geographic Traveler, and the AARP Bulletin. She is a partner at the award-winning family travel website Travel Savvy Mom, and is also a frequent contributor to the Dana Foundation’s many science publications. She has written stories about out-of-body experiences, fMRI orgasms, computer models of schizophrenia, the stigma of single motherhood and why one should travel to exotic lands with young children.

Sukel’s new book, The Art of Risk: The New Science of Courage, Caution & Chance, an investigation into the science of risk-taking, was published in March 2016. In it she breaks down why aggressive risk takers are as thoughtful, if not more thoughtful, than more conservative businesspeople, and how smart risk taking is both important and necessary to succeed in your career and your life. Risk takers aren't reckless, they pore over the details and study their situations inside and out because they have so much at stake.

Her first book, Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships (retitled as This is Your Brain On Sex: The Science Behind the Search for Love in paperback), is an irreverent and funny tome that takes on the age-old question, “What is love?” from a neurobiological perspective. Called “a fun and insightful read,” by Scientific American Mind and “a serious, informative and highly entertaining survey of the neurobiology of sexual attraction,” by the Washington Post, Dirty Mind/This is Your Brain on Sex offers a new take on that crazy little thing called love.

Kayt has graced the stage at TEDMED and Chicago Ideas Week in 2014 with some of the world’s greatest scientists, thought leaders and innovators–and has also given talks at universities, book stores and museums across the United States and Canada. Her talks run the gamut–she’s covered the science of love, STEM careers, risk-taking, the importance of play, the craft of writing, the modern juggling act of parenthood and how to travel with young children.

Sukel also works with several corporate clients in both the healthcare, education and government sectors on various writing and marketing endeavors. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the Author’s Guild and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW).

Topics

Smart Decision-Making: It’s All in the Approach

Most of us think we’re rational thinkers. We believe we approach our decisions with logic and foresight. But when it comes to dealing with risk and uncertainty, our brains rely on a variety of cognitive short-cuts that influence how we decide—and those heuristics often work against us when it comes down to making smart, sound decisions. Kayt Sukel will explain, using examples from the intersection of cutting edge science laboratories and real-world success stories, the myriad ways our faulty assumptions—and the brain’s default decision-making mechanisms—can get in the way of our long term goals. She’ll explain why we mistakenly take risk-taking as a personality trait instead of a process; how the latest scientific research is demonstrating how different environmental variables can change that process in expected ways; what we can learn from extreme sports heroes and military special forces operators about optimizing our choices; and, finally, how self-appraisal and self-awareness concerning the way the brain handles decision-making can help each and every one of us ultimately become smarter decision makers—helping us to transform uncertainty into victory in work, play, love, and life.

Harnessing Uncertainty: A Key Ingredient for Creativity, Innovation, & Success

Uncertainty often seems synonymous with impulsivity and danger—something to be avoided at all costs. But scientists are learning that uncertainty is part and parcel of every single decision we make, every single day—big or small, life-altering or seemingly inconsequential. And, what’s more, healthy doses of uncertainty can help foster creativity, innovation, and success. Kayt Sukel will discuss the how brain is designed to deal with uncertainty—and why that particular neurobiological set-up means that uncertainty is often the catalyst for novel and groundbreaking breakthroughs. She will describe how successful leaders and organizations consider uncertainty in their own decisions—and how those lessons learned apply to making smarter, more creative choices. And, finally, she’ll consider the different types of corporate environments that can make or break the creative process—and how those who are successful with fostering creativity are doing so without losing sight of the organization’s core values (or long-term business goals).

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