Tell us a little more about what you do at The Field Museum and your title Chief Curiosity Correspondent?
As the Chief Curiosity Correspondent for The Field Museum, I create an educational video every other week that is published to our YouTube channel, The Brain Scoop. The videos are about the research and collections here at the Field, and we cover everything from animal dissections, to dinosaurs, meteorites, the deep sea, and everything in-between.
What might your work routine include?
No two days are the same when you work in a Museum. Typically I start my day answering emails and making phone calls, but most of my time is spend researching for upcoming episodes, and talking with scientists. It takes a lot of work to make one video and my job is to do everything up until the shoot day. Then, the footage is edited by our producer, and I start working on the next video!
What inspired you to start The Brain Scoop?
I studied art in college and became interested in natural history when I visited a small research collection on my campus. I was blown away by the number and diversity of specimens I saw in that room, and viewed the collection as a place of inspiration for my art. The more I learned about museums and their role in our lives, I wanted to promote them as much as possible. So, The Brain Scoop was born.
Who is your key audience when it comes to TBS?
Is it a show everyone can watch? I’d say The Brain Scoop is for everyone, sure. It certainly is for people who are interested in science, and the world around them. We’ve made more than 140 videos in the last 3 years so there’s something for everyone, whether you want to learn about fossil fish excavated in Wyoming, or the Amazon jungle in Peru, or about millipede research.
What is the biggest challenge you face when curating content for TBS?
There are so many possibilities for episodes that at times it can be difficult prioritizing what we ought to focus on next. I strive for a balance between satisfying what our audience requests (they love the dissection videos!), and creating content that serves our scientists. Our researchers need to be able to share their work with the public, and The Brain Scoop is one of the most effective ways of doing so.
What's the most rewarding part of what you do?
Working with research scientists is very gratifying, since together we create a product that is enjoyed by tens of thousands -- sometimes hundreds of thousands of people. But when I receive letters in the mail from young kids or students who have seen the show and have found a new passion or direction of life because of it, then that’s something you can’t measure with numbers. Feeling like I’ve helped people learn and appreciate our world a little better is the most rewarding part of my job.
Do you have a favorite episode of TBS or a dream episode you'd like to shoot?
It’s impossible to pick a favorite! I learn something new with every video, so I appreciate that about my work. I like the video ‘What the Function?’ Which was created with my friend Destin, who hosts the channel SmarterEveryDay. It was a goofy way for me to use a few things from our collection and quiz him about the function - his background as an engineer made the whole thing very interesting. I also really enjoy “Millipedes: The First Land Animals” because I learned so many wacky things about these little animals I’d never spent much time thinking about before. Plus, Petra is one really cool lady.
Can you give any advice about following your passion and making dreams become a reality?
I believe a fear of making ‘wrong’ choices, or not knowing which choices to make (indecision) prevents people from trying new things and exploring different paths. We as humans are very good at becoming creatures of habit, and often times that in itself can prevent you from discovering something completely unexpected about yourself, or something new you really enjoy doing. So I encourage people to take initiative and make concerted efforts to go outside of their usual comfort zones.
What are your thoughts on women in science related fields? What is the biggest hurdle you've encountered as a woman in the industry?
I tend to become frustrated when people focus more on my appearance or gender than they do on my accomplishments. I would rather talk about science, nature, and museums than about my hair, clothes, or the fact that I am a woman in science communication.
What is your definition of success and how do you know you've chosen the right career path?
At the end of the day when I go home and hang out with my cats, I feel good about who I am and what I’ve done. I really go to bed feeling accomplished, and try to end every day with that same feeling.