University of Chicago Big Ideas Generator

Our Team

Elena Zinchenko

Director of Research Innovation

Arete, Office of the Vice President for Research and National Laboratories

I love research for its systematic capacity for surprise and beauty. It is also a framework for how to challenge the status quo - something that I have been engaged in my whole life.

Growing up in Northern Siberia, I tried to change the way things were done – I did it by co-founding some of the first non-profit organizations in the area. After coming to the US on a scholarship, I worked with hi-tech startups to push forward the adoption of new technologies. I went to graduate school because cognitive science is reframing some age-old philosophical views about the relation between the mind and the brain. For my doctorate, I studied abstract thinking development in children, and in my post-doctoral studies I worked on determining the brain activation signatures that support metaphoric thinking across lifespan.

The Big Ideas Generator is a novel way to support fledging research ideas that are ambitious and iconoclastic. It speaks to my intellectual passions and my impatience about making things better and more fun.

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science, Booth School of Business
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Chicago
  • Ed.D. Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University