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Authority-Like Figures and Other Assorted Ignitaries, 2020

For a list of Nobel laureates, 24/7 Lecturers, and past Ig Nobel Prize winners who will also be part of this, see the 2020 Ceremony Page.

Please enjoy this never-yet-complete list of 2020 Ig Nobel ignitaries, literati, glitterati, pseudo-intellectuals, quasi-pseudo-intellectuals, cogno-intellectuals and assorted others who in some way are/were assisting in bringing the Ceremony into reality.

(NOTE: ** indicates name is/was/will be misspelled)

Marc AbrahamsMarc Abrahams
(Producer/Director, Master of Ceremonies, Writer) Marc founded the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. He also edits the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, the Improbable Podcast and Improbable Blog, and the librettos for Ig Nobel mini-operas, including this year’s Dream, Little Cockroach, and now and then a book.

Robin Abrahams (Airplane Announcer) writes the popular “Miss Conduct” social advice column for the Boston Globe Sunday magazine and blogs at She is the author of Miss Conduct’s Mind Over Manners.

Dany AdamsDany Adams (Lurking Presence) is a Visiting Scientist at Tufts University, plus Co-Founder and CSO of Ion Diagnostics LLC. She gave one of the first 24/7 Lectures, which culminated in a seven-word definition of ‘biology’: "If it can get infected, it’s biology."

Richard Baguley (Webcast Coordinator) is a fellow who writes about all sorts of technology and science.

Jackie Baum (Lurking Presence) has from early on been creating delicious party foods and atmosphere for the new winners. That and other deliciousness is available to the world, at Trillfoods.

Jeremy BellJeremy Bell (Lecture Musician/Timekeeper) was the NSFW Indicator at the 2019 Ig Nobel Ceremony and was the official Hasty Pudding Piper in the 1990s. He is also the author of a book on William Hogarth.

Heidi Clark (Lurking Presence).

Stephanie Clayman (Improbable Executive Assistant) is a professional actress, teacher, and coach. She was raised in a family of scientists, and is delighted to have found the Igs, where art, science, and humor all coexist in delightful chaos.

Gary DryfoosGary Dryfoos (Majordomo) is a scholar, a gentleman, and a majordomo. His majordomic qualifications include intensive specialized training, and owning his own tuxedo. This is his 29th Ig.

Stanley EigenStanley Eigen (Lurking Presence) has been with the Igs since the beginning. In addition to serving as Commutative Editor for the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, he is a math professor at Northeastern University (and yes, his name really is Eigen).

Alexey EliseevAlexey Eliseev (Opera Soloist) works as a scientist by day, and by night plays the title (and non-singing!) role in the new mini-opera Dream, Little Cockroach.

Maria EliseevMaria Eliseeva (Lurking Presence) speaks Russian and English, works as a patent and trademark attorney and enjoys devoting some time to singing and playing the piano..

Maria FerranteMaria Ferrante (Opera Soloist & Music Director) enjoys an active career as recording artist, recitalist, orchestral soloist, and chamber musician, in the United States and abroad. This is her howmanyeth? year starring in an Ig Nobel opera premiere.

Melissa Franklin (Safety Announcement Announcer) is Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard. She studies proton collisions and the higgs boson (which she helped discover), and has appeared on the Ig Nobel stage multiple times.

MelKiyoshi Furusawa (Lecture Musician/Timekeeper) is a professor at Rikkyo University. He has organized several Ig Nobel events in Japan, and is leading the translation team for the Japanese-language edition of this year’s ceremony webcast.

Jean Berko GleasonJean Berko Gleason (Welcome Welcome Speaker, Goodbye Goodbye Speaker) is professor emerita of psychology at Boston University. She is the inventor of the Wug Test. She owns a tiara.

MelSeth Gliksman ("Favorite Memory" & Ceremony Countdown Video Coordinator) is a prime mover of the Improbable Research podcast.

Jean HadlandJan Hadland (Opera Soloist) sings with the jazz group “Just In Time”

Zachariah Hickman (Lecture Musician/Timekeeper) has been (or is still) a musician, a ringmaster, a middle child, and the man behind Dr. Zachariah’s Mustache Conditioning Wax and Gravity Suppressant.

Barbara Allen Hill (Opera Soloist) is Senior Test Engineer for GenePattern, a portrait photographer, a professional singer (soprano), a software engineer, a cat owner, and a board member for of SoHIP.

Karen HopkinKaren Hopkin (Announcement Announcer, Opera Narrator), biochemist-turned-science writer, announces the opera, the Win-a-Date contest, and all sorts of things. At the 2004 Ig, Hopkin led the musical tribute to Daisuke Inoue, the inventor of Karaoke, who was awarded that year’s peace prize. She is co-author of the textbook Essential Cell Biology. In her spare time, Hopkin bakes pies and collects the signatures of Nobel Laureates on a 1950s-style autograph dog. This is her 28th Ig (at least).

MelChristopher Hopkin (Assistant Announcement Announcer).

Susan KanySusan Kany (Lurking Presence) spent more than 20 years, perfecting her diplomatic skills within Harvard’s administration.

MelAlice Shirrell Kaswell (Writer) is a staff writer for the Annals of Improbable Research. This is her (at least) 26th Ig.

David KesslerDavid "DK" Kessler
(Co-Producer) is knowledgable about theater, logistics, Scotland, sea chanteys, philosophy, and whisky. He is Program Manager for the UW Reality Lab, and has a few stories and details at

Bruce KoplanBruce Koplan (Opera Bassist) is a Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

Ruggero LeoncavalloRuggero Leoncavallo (Opera Composer) Born in Naples, and raised in Calabria, he wrote several operas before dying in 1919, only later gaining his first Ig Nobel credit.

Michele LiguoriMichele Liguori (Portaborse) is Director of Regulatory Operations at Alkermes, and has
appeared on several gameshows

Julia LunettaJulia Lunetta (Lurking Presence) is an 18-year veteran minordomo. In addition to being a professional geek, she is also a semi-professional actress and musician, and an amateur human. When not shuttling people around the Sanders stage, she sings around NYC with Three Dollar Bill, a queer a cappella cabaret group.

Lois Malone (Artwork & Logos) drew "The Stinker", the logo of the Annals of Improbable Research and of the Ig Nobel ceremony. Formerly at MIT, she now paints, sculpts, and designs houses in the mountains of New Mexico.

Lauren MaurerLauren Maurer (Master of E-Bookery) holds an SM in Science Writing from MIT, and then helped invent the first e-book format which can be read by ALL major e-readers, used in the e-book editions of the Annals of Improbable Research. She’s also a science writer transplanted from America to the UK.

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn BartholdyJakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barttholdy (Opera Composer) Pianist, organist, and conductor who did not live to see his work used on the Ig Nobel stage.

Thomas MichelDr. Thomas Michel (Opera Accordionist, and Lecture Musician/Timekeeper) is a Cardiologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. and is half of the busking duo, "Yesterday’s Bait". He has been in many Igs.

Bruce PetschekBruce Petschek (Video Producer/Director) is a freelance videographer. His production company, Seven Generations Video, has been videotaping the Igs for as long as anyone can remember and he is the chief editor of the Ig Nobel collection series on YouTube. His three children have all grown up working on the Ig Nobel video production crew since they were 6 years old and despite this formative experience they have all grown into fairly well-adjusted adults.

Julian Petschek (Animator) Began his Ig Nobel career as a cameraman, then left to become a skilled animator. So now he moves things around in tiny increments, one frame at a time, and drinks too much coffee.

Gus RancatoreGus Rancatore (Lurking Presence) is the proprietor of Toscanini’s Ice Cream. In 2007 he invented a new ice cream flavor to honor Mayu Yamamoto, who that year won the Ig Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovering how to extract vanillin from cow dung.

Julie Reimann (Opera Cellist) is a dermopathologist at MGPO Dermatopathology Associates, and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

Katrina RosenbergKatrina Rosenberg (Lecture Musician/Timekeeper) is a Primary Care Nurse at Fenway Health, and an amateur wooden spoon carver. All her sisters are former Miss Sweetie Poos. This is her manyth Ig.

Sylvia RosenbergSylvia Rosenberg (Lecture Musician/Timekeeper) is a former Miss Sweetie Poo, and veteran of many Ig Nobel ceremonies.

Don SchechterDon Schechter (Camera Crew) is the founder of Charles River Media Group and a part-time lecturer at Tufts University in Film. His secretive past involves music composition and theremin performance.

Lizhou ShaLizhou Sha (Opera Soloist) worked at MIT for NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission, possibly before shifting to graduate school in Wisconsin. He’s also a ham radio operator.

Ted SharpeTed Sharpe (Opera Soloist) is a Computational Biologist at the Broad Institute and is half of the busking duo, Yesterday’s Bait.

Jonathan Shedler (Remote-Session Video Engineer) is owner of Sonic Pixel Media, and has worked on the Ig Nobel broadcast crew for several seasons. The title of his profile photo is, "Imagination is more important than knowledge…".

MelMiles Smith (Sound Recording) is a freelance audio engineer based in the Boston area, is currently on staff at WGBH Radio, is chief engineer for the Spanish Beisbol Network, works with “This American Life”, and has had a hand in three Grammy-nominated albums. Most important, he has been involved in many, many Igs.

Quentin SmithQuentin Smith (Director of Improbable Engineering) has been playing with wires down the street at MIT for the past many years, first as an MIT undergrad, then as a Google person, (where he built a digital waterfall, among other things), and then as…

MelDietrich Strauss (Lecture Musician/Timekeeper) is a musician and songwriter.

Johan Strauss IIJohann Strauss II (Opera Composer).

Geri SullivanGeri Sullivan (Artwork & Logos) is a graphic designer at her own firm, PROmote Communications, and is the design and layout director of the Annals of Improbable Research.

Fred TsaiFred Tsai (Opera Soloist) is a Resident Physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, plays piano, and speaks 3 languages.

Corky WhiteCorky White (Lurking Presence) is a food anthropologist, based at Boston University, an is perhaps the world’s greatest professional scholar of Japanese coffee culture.

Eric WorkmanEric Workman (Prize Designer) creates unusual things at Boston’s Museum of Science. He has been designing and building Ig Nobel Prizes for well over a decade.

Yulia YunYulia Yun (Opera Pianist) is a first prize winner at the Uzbekistan National Piano Competition and has
since studied piano with Sergei Polusmiak, Eda Mazo Shlyam, and Ludmilla Lifson. She holds degrees in Music and

Improbable Research