I just read an article in Wired talking about the perception of scientists and how it’s altering the public’s engagement with science. Basically, the stereotypical scientist is an older white male in a white lab coat and goggles, probably holding a test tube of some sort. (I probably would have drawn the same image if prompted, actually). The next step of the stereotype is that scientists are mad, bad, and capable of (if not willing to) destroy the world. The article suggests that scientists move to classrooms and ask students if science is fun–and then go about showing them that it is. A group of 7th graders that got to go visit a physics lab were asked to draw and describe a scientist before and after their trip, and the differences are dramatic.
So I figure that even though most of you reading this blog are already interested in science, I’d tell you a little bit more about myself and my research, to try to show how science is fun and what a scientist is:
I do not own a lab coat, and very rarely wear safety goggles at work. I study the evolution of fish, so I spend a lot of time in the lab working with the fish DNA (using pipettes, gel electrophoresis machines, and other machines–but not microscopes). However, I also spend a lot of time on the computer. And since I have to catch the fish, I spend time at the water with a seine net, too. I love my research, but it’s not the only thing I do (obviously). Clearly, I’m a huge nerd and watch a lot of TV and read a lot of books, but I also go out with friends for drinks, food, and movies. I grew up playing sports and continue to do some physical exercise to stay healthy. The reason I do science is because I have a lot of questions about the world and I want to answer them. Plus, I love a good puzzle. But really, I’m just a regular person.