Carnegie Mellon University
March 19, 2021

A Not-So-Mad Scientist

CMU alumna and neuroscientist Vivienne Ming dreams big to do good.

By Kristy Locklin

When strangers ask Dr. Vivienne Ming what she does for a living, it takes her about 20 minutes to explain.

If they want the short version, she simply says she’s a professional mad scientist. (That descriptor even appears on her LinkedIn profile.)

“I used to be a theoretical neuroscientist,” Vivienne says from her office in Berkeley, California. “I’ve been an entrepreneur and started many companies, but, nowadays, I get the coolest job in the world. I’m running experiments and building superpowers and, the best part is, I get to just give it away.”

Vivienne, who holds a master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, is executive chair of Socos Labs, a philanthropic think tank she co-founded with her wife, fellow CMU alumna Dr. Norma Ming, who also earned a master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Dietrich College.

For the past five years, in addition to raising their two children, they’ve used artificial intelligence to solve problems no one else can seem to fix.

From creating technology that predicts manic episodes in people with bi-polar disorder to helping kids with seizure disorders to taking the bias out of the hiring process, if it’s about making a difference in people’s lives, Vivienne is interested. She uses nearly all of her yearly income from writing and speaking engagements to fund her research and then shares the information free of charge.

Read more about Ming’s work