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WHEREIN I talk to Emily Graslie about The Brain Scoop, YouTube, and issues facing women in the media and STEM.

The Brain Scoop --

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Peter: Hi. I'm Peter... and this is Go Verb a Noun. Hello and welcome to part 2 of my interview with Emily Graslie. If you haven't seen the first part yet, I highly recommend clicking my face or really anywhere on the screen.  In that first part she talks to us about what it means to be a Chief Curiosity Correspondent, as well as the topic of science communicators in general. And now, if you're ready for part 2, here we go. She's going to talk to us a little bit about about The Brain Scoop, her channel, as well as some things about YouTube and being in the media. So, let's check it out.

How did you get involved in The Brain Scoop?

It was kind of like a long time coming meets fortuitous series of events, in that I had been writing and recording and recording like the day-to-day activities of what I was doing as a volunteer at the University of Montana Zoological Museum. And I got... actually a message from our curator one day saying like, "This guy who says he's from V-log brothers wants to like come and film something for some YouTube thing". And I was like, Hank from Vlogbrothers wants to come and record something here? And he was like, yeah, do you think this is worth our time? And I said absolutely-lutely it is.

Um, so Hank came in and he was filming a segment for Crash Course about the vertebrate skeleton and he wanted to use kind  of the museum as a backdrop and use some of our skeletons in the episode. And that's something I was totally- I was all about, I really like to accommodate artists and creators and educators to us our facilities because that's why we existed as a natural history museum.

So Hank came and I helped them with the shoot and I gave them a tour and um. There was a time when like Nick Jenkins was actually the one who was recording that day. And I took Hank around in the lab and showed him some stuff and just kept talking and talking and talking about the importance of this museum and look at this cool thing and oh we have a diaphonized specimen and this is what that means and you know check out this giraffe and we have a rhinoceros and d'you know what a baculum is, oh my god, it's a penis bone, it's like a foot and a half long. And then Hank- I think he was endeared by it. And he asked me kind of like, what are you doing, and like, I can be a little bit, you know sneaky, I'm like, "you know, I'm just a volunteer. We're trying to get all this publicity, and if you could like give us a shout out on your blog that'd be great..."

Um, so he did. And he said at one point like, I'd love to work with you sometime, like maybe you could come in and work for us on Crash Course or SciShow, and I said I'd love to. Then I didn't really hear anything from him for a couple months, they were obviously busy doing their own thing. And then I guess it was like... November of 2012, Michael Gardener emailed me to ask if Hank could come back and film something, and I said yeah, absolutely. Um, so he came with Michael Aranda, and I thought it was for another Crash Course thing, and then I asked Michael Aranda if he wanted to get a tour of the collection space before we got started working with Hank. And Hank was like, no no no, we're gonna wait to start the tour until you've got a mike on.

And I was like wait... I'm giving a tour and I'm being recorded? Like, I was not anticipating being on camera. But it's a tour that I've given many times before so I gave him a tour and he edited it and it was a Vlogbrothers Thoughts From Places video and I... to this day it's like one of my favorite videos. Um, because I was so excited just to show him around and... then I think it was like Monday. I went up on a Friday and on Monday Hank had emailed me being like, "Hey. So... do you like this YouTube thing? Are you interested in hosting your own channel?" And I was like "I'm SO inexperienced. I have NO idea what I'm doing. Um, I'd love to. Let's do this."

So that's kind of how I got started. Uh, Michael Aranda was a producer for Hank and still is, um, and so Michael came in and... I think he was only originally supposed to help me like, learn how to use the camera that Hank had got for the show, and instead ended up recording the entire thing and editing everything and... yeah. Si that's how we... got started. We launched in January of 2013.

What's surprising about YouTube as a medium?

It's- there are new surprises every day about using YouTube. One, it's a little- it's like unprecedented, you know? It's brand new media. Um, I think one thing that surprised me was how informal it can be and is, and how like, low production a show can be while still being incredibly... successful. It kind of turned everything I would have thought and assumed about media and educational video like on its head. You think about any kind of like channel or production company or network making educational video or film, even like you know PBS has dozens of people who will work on a program and there are creators and... you know, it's this very long process.

But with YouTube, you can spend and hour or two doing research on a topic, you can spend and hour or two writing a script, and you can spend and hour or two filming something, and in a day's work, you can bring something new in an easy to digest and translatable format to an incredibly large number of people. It's amazing. So that kind of surprised me... about starting YouTube, and doing educational videos was that... in one sense it's very easy. It's very easy in that way. It has all different other kinds of challenges, but putting your mind to doing something and creating a final product, like.. that's easy.The difficult part is like improving on that. And like learning what to look out for, to make your videos better, to become a better editor, like those are the difficult parts. But actually like getting information online was... was simple. And that was really fun to learn.

Complete the sentence: "Oh man, I can't wait to go to work so that I can..."

Cut up dead animals with Andy Goldman! And dissect birds in the bird lab. I mean those are the selfish things, those are... I lot of the stuff that I do, you know, I don't carry a camera around with me everywhere, I'm not recording what happens day to day, it's not a reality TV show. You know, I don't have somebody recording my every move. Um, which we've thought about, like, how interesting would that be to Emily, like a day in the life. But honestly, guys, I spend like 4 hours a day answering emails, it's not that exciting.

But I think the most gratifying part of my job is the interactions that I have with the public, and... um... I get even a little bit teary just thinking about it. Because I... I'm so privileged in that way. Like I can hardly think of anybody else who has a job like this where they don't get that kind of gratification and... you know, love and support from total strangers for the work that they do. Like, there's nothing better in the world. Like, I'm working a job... and it's not just a job for me, it's a job for all these other people. Like I feel like I'm sharing my life and my job and my work with anybody who's willing to come in and watch and like... and they celebrate my victories with me, and anytime, like I was in Cosmopolitan last week, and like, that's amazing, Cosmopolitan posted a picture of dermestid beetles, for probably the first time in their history of ever. And like, that's a cool thing. And people, my audience and people who are interested in that are like, you know, smart and uh... they just, they get how cool that is. And they're very proud of me. And then that- like, that's the best feeling ever. It's, it's irreplaceable.

Just- just yesterday somebody tweeted a picture of me, of their daughter and her friend who are at art camp this year. And it was dress up like your favorite hero day. And one of them dressed up like me. And like you just think about all of like the superheros that exist in the world and everything, like in popular media, pop culture, and like the fact that this girl wanted to dress up like Emily Graslie on The Brain Scoop is like... like it's, it's... it's amazing. Like there's no, there's nothing else like it. So... you know, sometimes I can get bogged down in like the day to day work, or stress, or overwork, or the fact that like, oh my god, I put in like 70 hours a week at my job, like what am I doing, I don't have a social life. But it doesn't matter. You know, when I turn on my computer and I see that like what I do matters so much to somebody who like- the world is so open to her. You know, she can go off and do anything, and like, the last thing I want to do is end up being like a disappointment, you know? Um, so... so that really gets me out of bed in the morning. Um, and people are so kind and so supportive. (It's been great ?) I get all teary about it. All the people who showed up at VidCon. And plus like aside from that um, you saw our education, uh, entertainment education panel on YouTube this year at VidCon, and I was one woman sitting among seven men. So that's another really motivating reason for why I do that. There needs to be more positive female role models in the media who are talking about science who are unafraid to share their enthusiasm and their curiosity and their incredible knowledge, and so until there are... equal number of us I'm definitely going to keep championing that.

Do you have any advice for someone who may like to get started on YouTube, but may feel hesitant about doing so?

I- it depends on like what their hesitations are. You know, what are they necessarily nervous about. Are they nervous that they don't have video editing experience, are they nervous that they don't know how to talk to a camera, are they nervous about the kind of comments or reactions they're going to get, or lack kind of, there're a lot of different insecurities people have when approaching online video, and each one of those insecurities needs to be addressed individually.

And, I mean I still run into insecurities doing YouTube videos. Um, I still wonder like, you know, I definitely take extra time to make sure my hair looks nice the morning before a shoot, or like, I forgot we were recording this today so I just kind of rolled out of bed wearing a T-shirt I got at Target. Which is fine, but like though, it's definitely things that I have to think about, and then I like hate that I have to think about them and like, um, especially as a woman, like my appearance is... I'm staring at myself all the time, I had a photo- you know, I'll have a photo shoot and if I don't like the photos like, I feel awful about it. That's not the focus, that's not the important thing, it's just something that I personally like struggle and deal with, and it's just kind of part of... part of the deal. But, uh, it doesn't prevent me from doing what I want to do. You know, I don't let it overtake like my desire to continue doing videos. And I think if I did that'd be kind of selfish, and like, that's not helping anybody, that's not helping us change our standard for what's acceptable for women to look like,'s not helping to change up the demographics for who is the face of a video.

So you know, it's just- I would just encourage people to go ahead and do it. Like, that's always my advice. My advice is just to like turn the camera on and go for it. And don't worry about doing preliminary or test videos ahead of time, don't worry about like- you know, having a secret launch series and then doing the real videos later. Just start doing videos. And you will be so surprised by how much you learn from one to the next. It's amazing. And if you have the kind of people watching your stuff in the beginning who are going to be dismissive of you because you've done 2 videos, and they don't like them and they don't meet their standards, those people don't matter. Those people- like, where are those people's videos? Do they have any right to judge you about the videos that you are trying to make and are putting in an honest effort? Like they don't, they don't have any right. So, haters gonna hate. That's what I say.

Peter: Now in my opinion, Emily and The Brain Scoop fill a very important niche in the online education scene. Whereas most online educators are known strictly through their online presence, it's possible for viewers of The Brain Scoop to actually go on location and visit the Field Museum in person. Arguably, that's the whole idea of having a Chief Curiosity Correspondent, n'est pas?

Beyond that, Emily touched on a very important topic, that is, women in STEM fields and women in the media. Women are drastically underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. And women are drastically underrepresented in the media. In both cases this is because women face face unique challenges that their male counterparts simply don't have to deal with. But she goes further that just recognizing that these are problems and puts herself out there despite any misgivings she may have. So that other girls and women know that these worlds are not closed off to them, and so that if they decide to go into the field of STEM or into the media, they know that they won't be alone.

So. Tell me in the comments below or on twitter or Tumblr or wherever: What can we all do to make the STEM fields more accessible to women?

For my part, I'm doing what I can to make sure that the genders are equally represented in my interviews, because this is something that I think is very important.

Alright. That's all I got. Thanks for caring, and I will see you guys next time. Bye.