February 8, 2018
Emily Graslie
The Value of Curiosity
The Great Hall

Reflection | Podcast | Photos

Emily Graslie seems an unlikely candidate to be a public face of science. A violinist who majored in art history, her interest in the natural world wasn't piqued until she volunteered at a zoological museum to meet a grad requirement ~ and discovered a passion for dead animals. Amidst cleaning and dissecting specimens, Emily started a vlog The Brain Scoop wherein she's tackled everything from how to use flesh-eating beetles to clean bear bones to how sexism deters women from science careers. Today, The Brain Scoop has 450,000 subscribers. And, it's now produced by the Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, which hired Emily to use her hands-on approach to make science more compelling and fun for everyone.

Event Reflection

by Billy Clouse

This week, Emily Graslie discussed her evolution from a landscape painter to the Chief Curiosity Correspondent at the Field Museum in Chicago. Although this transition involved quite a bit of talent, the most important factor was passion.

In school, Graslie was disinterested in the sciences and chose to pursue fine arts instead, but this changed during the last semester of her undergraduate degree. One of her friends did a triptych on the evolution of the feather, a piece Graslie said changed her life.

Her interest in the art of biology developed quickly and turned into an internship at the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at the University of Montana. Although she started drawing the specimens in the museum, she soon found herself preparing and curating specimens.

After a few years, she created a blog about the museum. It was noticed by Hank Green while he was developing his YouTube series, Crash Course. He came to the museum to film a portion of the biology series, and later on, he came back to film a tour of the museum for Vlogbrothers.

Green was impressed with Graslie's passion, and the two started working on The Brain Scoop, a channel that was picked up by the Field Museum. Here, Graslie has interviewed STEM professionals, participated in field expeditions and filmed live streams of dissections.

In addition to making interesting content, Graslie demonstrated that through dedication, almost anything is possible. As the show's international viewership rose, she worked with museums across the world —  from the Field Museum to the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany.

She also created content that she thought the world needed to hear. Issues such as menstruation during field work, women in STEM, and the importance of voting for science weren't commonplace, so she made videos to increase awareness and understanding of the topics.

Near the end of her talk, Graslie recapped how she went from what she described as "an inconsequential landscape painter" to the keynote speaker of the 2017 March For Science in Chicago.

As always, this A.P.E.X. Event was a dynamic, interdisciplinary presentation, able to interest those with interests in the arts and/or the sciences. Join A.P.E.X. next week for the spring Day in the Life presentation with Zion National Park superintendent, Jeff Bradybaugh.

APEX Hour Podcast

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