On Nov. 12, 2012, at the Norwegian Academy of Sciences, Dominic Poccia, the Rufus Tyler Lincoln Professor of Biology, delivered the keynote address for the 50th anniversary of the biochemistry department at the University of Oslo’s School of Medicine.

Poccia presented a talk entitled “Improvisation, Creativity and the Liberal Arts in the Education of Biomedical Scientists.” Poccia has been exploring a similar topic in his recurring First-Year Seminar, “Thinking Through Improvisation.” Poccia says the topic is of particular interest to medical schools, which, he believes, can use lessons in improvisation in “training physicians on how to interact with patients”—a form of unscripted dialogue.  Poccia also believes that improvisation— which he defines as dialogue created “in the moment without the opportunity to edit later”—may be useful for swift medical problem-solving.

Dominic Poccia

Poccia credits the interest in improvisation for his “respect for things like the power of mistakes, the power of limits and the courage it takes to not worry about appearing foolish,” all of which have shaped the way he approaches his own biological research.

Poccia was invited to speak by the biochemistry department’s chair, Philippe Collas, who did his postdoctoral training with Poccia in his Amherst lab.