Emily Graslie: “I don’t do sexy science”

By Aphra Murray, Staff Writer


In the fall of 2014, Youtube science blogger of The Brain Scoop and the Chicago Field Museum’s first ever Chief Curiosity Correspondent came to visit Gettysburg College about her role as a science educator and public figure within the science community.

As a young woman, Emily Graslie has proven to be an inspiration and role model, in particular to women in STEM, starting with the fact that her title at work was invented for her. Graslie’s career is a testimony to the power of the Internet to amplify obscure voices. An arts graduate from the University of Montana, Graslie volunteered at its museum, giving tours and dusting specimens.

Only a few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Emily Graslie regarding her role as a woman in STEM and to get the scoop on the details of her position. Her most viewed video, entitled “Where My Ladies At?” addresses the underfunding and underrepresentation of women within her field. Ironically, when searching through the top comments of the video, all that can be found is a long list of degrading and misogynistic comments towards Graslie herself.

This highlights a lot of the problems that women in STEM face at the moment; problems which people like Emily are battling. When asked about this, Graslie was quick to respond that she does not take comments as personally as she used to, and focuses more on her work rather than the comments of sexists.

Most of the work that Graslie currently works on is increasing support and funding for curators, as well as advertising the work of her colleagues through her Youtube channel. The premise of most her videos is the same format: taking seemingly boring and complicated work that her colleagues at the Field Museum of Chicago are doing and translating it into more relatable language for the general public.

In this way, Graslie aims to take science out of the labs and classrooms, and instead bring it into everyday life. While most of her work focuses on museum curation and specimen preparation, the larger focus is science education and science communication, similar in some ways to college newspapers tackling topics in money, science, and technology.

My favorite quote of hers during the interview was that she did not deal with the “sexy side of science” when talking about her second top video: how to skin and prepare wolves for taxidermy. Important, but not sexy.

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Author: Aphra Murray

Aphra Murray '18 is an international student and a Chemistry major here at Gettysburg. For the past year and a half, she has been consistently writing for the Gettysburgian and this year will be taking over as editor of the MS&T section. While not writing, Aphra can be found working on her research in the Science Centre.

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