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Science scores

| By Dorothy Lozowski

Last month’s Super Bowl LVIII did not disappoint. Along with the exciting overtime finish, record-breaking field goals and more, once again advertisers showcased their special commercials created specifically for this annual championship sporting event. The commercials tend to generate almost as much anticipation as the game itself. With about 123.4 million viewers this year, the game was reportedly the most-watched television show in history, exceeding last year’s record high. Undoubtedly Super Bowl advertisements get tremendous exposure.

Amid the variety of commercials ranging from serious to funny to silly, and featuring numerous famous entertainers and sports figures, as well as a talking cat (meow can sound like mayo), one ad stood out to me: Pfizer’s “Here’s to Science.” [1]

This commercial has an upbeat tone, with busts, portraits and pictures of some of the superstars of science — Archimedes, Hippocrates, Galileo, Copernicus, Newton and Einstein — seemingly singing along to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” Along with these well-known figures and the founders of Pfizer, Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart, the fast-paced commercial flashes glimpses of other notable scientists, whose names may not be as familiar:

Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958) – A British chemist who early in her career studied the physical chemistry of carbon and coal. She studied and applied X-ray diffraction techniques to study DNA and is probably best known for her contributions to understanding the structure of DNA. She also contributed to the understanding of the structure of viruses.

Marie Maynard Daly (1921–2003) – Daly was an American biochemist whose research focused on practical applications of nutrition and health. She is known for uncovering the relationship between cholesterol and clogged arteries. She made history by becoming the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry.

Benjamin Banneker (1731–1806) – Banneker was a self-taught mathematician and astronomer who gained fame by building a wooden clock, thought to be the first built in America, that kept precise time for decades. He was able to make astronomical calculations that enabled him to forecast a solar eclipse. He was one of the first African Americans to gain distinction as a scientist.

Mary Somerville (1780–1872) – A trailblazer for women in science, Somerville studied mathematics and wrote numerous influential works. One of her writings is said to have contributed to the discovery of the planet Neptune.

Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman– Karikó is a biochemist and researcher and Weissman is a physician and researcher, both at Penn Medicine. They had discovered a way to modify Messenger RNA (mRNA), and later found a way to package the mRNA in lipid nanoparticles, making it possible to deploy the mRNA as a vaccine. Karikó and Weissman were jointly awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work on mRNA that enabled the development of vaccines against COVID-19.

I was glad to see science showcased on the big stage of the popular television broadcast with scientists as the celebrities. I look forward to more instances where science and engineering can be brought to the general public in a positive, upbeat way. ■

Dorothy Lozowski, Editorial Director




1. Pfizer’s commercial “Here’s to Science” is available at