Carnegie Mellon University
September 15, 2014

Alumna Kayt Sukel Takes The Stage at TEDMED

Kayt SukelKayt Sukel

TEDMED, a global community dedicated to unlocking imagination in service of health and medicine, recently held its annual event simultaneously in San Francisco and Washington D.C. Taking the stage this year in D.C. was Dietrich College alumna Kayt Sukel (DC’95), who majored in cognitive psychology and is a journalist and science writer who often tackles interesting and taboo subjects, including love, sex and out of body experiences.

Sukel’s talk focused on the book she’s writing about the neuroscience of risk-taking and how play during childhood and adulthood impacts the way we make decisions as adults.

“Risk is making a decision without knowing the outcome, and play is a great arena to take risks and challenge yourself,” Sukel said. “We always talk about how kids need to play and take risks to lean how to problem solve, learn to work with others and improve. I’m focusing on how and where science is showing those benefits also confer to adults.”

During her presentation, she touched on the stigma that play has for adults and said, “Let’s take away play shame – we do have time. This is an important skill.”

Sukel enjoyed her experience at TEDMED, both as a speaker and attendee, and gave her Twitter followers a play-by-play of what she thought of networking events and the different talks.

For her next book, tentatively titled, "Risk: The Science of Caution and Courage," Sukel spoke with several CMU professors for their insight, including Psychology Professor David Creswell about his unconscious processing and decision-making research.

Sukel’s previous book, “Dirty Minds” (retitled “This Is Your Brain On Sex” in paperback) delves into the age-old question, “What is love?” from a neurobiological perspective.

In addition to her books, Sukel’s work has appeared in a diverse array of publications, including the Atlantic Monthly, New Scientist, USA Today and Washington Post. She is a frequent contributor to the Travel Savvy Mom website as well as the Dana Foundation’s science publications.

For more information on Sukel, visit