Award-winning actor, writer and director Alan Alda spoke with CBS Saturday Morning, looking back on his award-winning career and discussing his current advocacy for science communication.
The interview aired on September 17 and was part of CBS’ celebration of the 50th anniversary of the premiere of M*A*S*H, the groundbreaking television drama for which Alda received 21 Emmy nominations. He won five of his six Emmy Awards for his work, three for acting and one each for writing and directing. He co-wrote the series finale, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” the 32nd episode that he directed and the single most-watched episode of any American broadcast network series. Alda also won an acting Emmy for The West Wing and won a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
Alda is a founder of and visiting professor at Stony Brook University’s Alda Center for Communicating Science, which uses improvisational theater training to help scientists improve their communication skills and explain their work in ways that the layperson can understand.
Alda has said that he became interested in communication when a life-long interest in science led him to host Scientific American Frontiers for 11 years on PBS. On that show, he helped hundreds of scientists from around the world share their research with the public.
Earlier this year, Stony Brook University received support to expand and evaluate multiple programs to help healthcare providers at Stony Brook Medicine. Five hundred healthcare professionals across Stony Brook will participate in the Alda Healthcare Experience over three years. Designed by the multidisciplinary team at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, the communication program combines applied improvisational theater techniques with social science research to help professionals, across professions and career levels communicate better with each other. Better communication improves team functionality and can reduce stress and burnout among healthcare providers.