South African Cultural Observatory National Conference
arts & culture
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University


Erez Lieberman Aiden

Erez Lieberman Aiden received his PhD from Harvard and MIT in 2010. After several years at Harvard's Society of Fellows and at Google as Visiting Faculty, he became Assistant Professor of Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine and of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at Rice University. Recognised around the world for his contribution to science, medicine and cultural change, Aiden is a renowned inventor, scientist and academic, and has been lauded as ‘America’s brightest young academic’.

Together with Jean-Baptiste Michel, Prof Aiden developed Google’s Ngram Viewer, a tool used by millions of people every day to probe cultural change by exploring the frequency of words and phrases in texts printed as far back as the 1500s. Aiden will be discussing his analysis of the collection of digitized texts which includes approximately 8% of all books ever published. He will survey the vast terrain of ‘culturomics’ and argue that an examination of the linguistic and cultural phenomenon reflected in the language of these texts can provide significant insights into the evolution of grammar, collective memory, the adoption of technology, the pursuit of fame, censorship, and historical epidemiology.

Dr. Aiden's research has won numerous awards, including recognition for one of the top 20 "Biotech Breakthroughs that will Change Medicine", by Popular Mechanics, membership in Technology Review's 2009 TR35, recognizing the top 35 innovators under 35; and in Cell's 2014 40 Under 40. His work has been featured on the front page of the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and the Houston Chronicle. One of his talks has been viewed over 1 million times at Three of his research papers have appeared on the cover of Nature and Science. In 2012, he received the President's Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, the highest government honor for young scientists, from Barack Obama. In 2014, Fast Company called him ‘America's brightest young academic’. In 2015, his laboratory was recognized on the floor of the US House of Representatives for its discoveries about the structure of DNA.


Erez Lieberman Aiden