COSI’s Frederic Bertley Hits the Airwaves

The science center CEO launches QED with Dr. B on WOSU.

Chris Gaitten
A shot from QED with Dr. B

While interviewing for COSI’s top job, Frederic Bertley’s brain began whirring with possibilities when he noticed WOSU’s television studios inside the science center. He’d always wanted to make a TV show about science, so even after the studios moved to Ohio State University’s campus, he kept up talks with WOSU general manager Tom Rieland. Finally, more than four years later, Bertley’s vision became reality when QED with Dr. B debuted Jan. 27. 

As the host, Bertley goes into the field—or, for now, the all-too-familiar confines of a virtual call—to have conversations with experts about topics like nanotechnology and climate change. Many guests are local, including several scientists from OSU and Root Insurance CEO Alex Timm, who will discuss artificial intelligence. 

The show airs on WOSU at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, and the title acronym—which stands for “quite easily demonstrated”—is a nod to the desire to make science accessible. It’s a crucial goal. A 2016 survey conducted by NASA and the University of Michigan found that only 28 percent of American adults are scientifically literate. 

“For some reason in this nation, if you don’t know anything about science, it’s cool,” says Bertley, a former Harvard researcher and immunologist. “It’s almost like a badge of honor.” 

He hopes viewers who wouldn’t normally watch science shows will be attracted by the trusted reputation of COSI, the only science museum co-producing a TV program for adults. Then it will be his job to bring them back for more. “I try to tease out the scientific concept in such a way that we’re not dumbing it down, because it’s an adult show, but you feel comfortable and you can understand what’s being said.”

Watch a trailer of QED With Dr. B below.