Meet Jennifer Brain, your new favorite TED speaker, and the 13-year-old student who drew her

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When Cecilia Matei’s science teacher showed a TED Talk about the promise of stem cell research to her class at the American School of Milan, Italy, she was immediately intrigued.

“For me it was a completely new subject that I had never heard of before,” the 13-year-old says.

The talk inspired her to create this drawing (click on it to see a larger version), a cross between a comic strip and a movie storyboard. While the star of the image is named “Jennifer Brain,” she closely resembles real-life TED speaker Susan Solomon, who at TEDGlobal 2012 shared the advances being made toward creating lab-grown stem cell lines, which could accelerate many types of medical research.

Matei’s teacher, Joseph Leonetti, handpicked this talk to kick off a special project for his students — as they did a three-week lesson on cell structures and processes in class, they were tasked with researching stem cells at home. “They were responsible for finding out what stem cells are, where they come from, how they are used and the ethical issues surrounding them. They were guided in the right direction,” he says. “Almost each class session started with students eagerly discussing what they had found out about stem cells the night before.”

This image was one of Matei’s homework assignments from the lesson. She walks us through the action of it: “Famous scientist Dr. Brain is invited to give a TED Talk about her studies,” she says. “She’s trying to convince people that stem cell research could help cure many diseases.”

In general, Matei says that her favorite subjects in school are math, English and, of course, science. “I loved every lab and experiment in Mr. Leonetti’s class,” she says. As for her favorite TED Talks she prefers ones “about new technological inventions.”

So we’ll have to wait and see what’s next for Dr. Jennifer Brain.

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