Persistence of White Lab Coats

FMWIS Lecture Poster with Emily Graslie

At the beginning of May, I attended a Field Museum Women in Science lecture given by Emily Graslie, host of The Brain Scoop. One of her topics of discussion was the misrepresentation of scientists as white men in white lab coats (optional: crazy eyes / hair) observing the requisite beakers of neon-colored liquids that every scientist can’t work without!

The thing is, I don’t know a single scientist who fits that mold.

To me, scientists are passionate people with an endless hunger to bring a deeper understanding and new perspectives about the past, present, and future of humanity. Their work is never just “a job”, and their motivation always seems to come from their own deep curiosity. They are incredibly patient people who will happily spend years, if not a lifetime, asking questions that might never be answered – often spurring even more questions. Sometimes they get answers, but not always the ones they expected. They do their best to keep an open mind, and forget everything they thought they knew when new information comes to light. They will spend many laborious hours to present their findings to audiences who will readily critique and dismiss them. But there is nothing else they’d rather do.

To be fair, I often have my own stereotypical image that comes to mind when I hear “scientist” – khaki-clad paleontologists : )

My friend Lindsay decked out in classic dino excavation gear. From the 2012 Carthage dig.

What is a scientist to you?


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