APEX: Emily Graslie on the Value of Curiosity

Scientist and YouTube sensation Emily Graslie presented her story of going from landscape painter, to scientist, to YouTube star all because of curiosity on Feb. 8 inside Hunter Conference Center’s Great Hall.

A graduate of the University of Montana, Graslie grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota and was inspired by the landscapes in her region, so she decided to paint them, and show people the beauty of the region.  In a critique class, Graslie was blown away by a painting series by her friend, Kadie, named “Evolution of the Feather.”  She found out that Kadie was involved with a small zoological museum on the campus, and through interning there, and learning the ins and outs, Graslie became curious and enthralled with science and biological specimens.

After spending time interning in the museum, Graslie was approached by Hank Green, a YouTuber who is famous for creating the VlogBrothers YouTube channel, and who also lives in Missoula, where the University of Montana is located.  After Graslie led him through a recorded tour of the museum, Green gave Emily a golden opportunity to showcase her curiosity to the world.

“He said, ‘You’re pretty good at this, do you want your own show?’” Graslie said.  “It blew my mind, of course I said yes.”

Through Graslie’s collaboration with Green, she created the educational science show, “The Brain Scoop” on Jan. 14, 2013.  Her first series, titled “The Wolf” showcased the the procuring and processing of a wolf skeleton that was hit by a car in Montana.  That video series, which is seven parts, is one of Graslie’s most popular video series.

In July of that year, Graslie was invited to come work for the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois as their Chief Curiosity Correspondent.  It is from that museum that “The Brain Scoop” is filmed to this day.  The channel has over 450,000 subscribers, with over 22 million views overall.

Graslie has had the opportunity to travel to many different places to collaborate with other scientists and institutions, such as Harvard, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  She wants anybody who has a spark of interest in any sort of field to pursue it.  

“People should believe in the power of the individual,” Graslie said.

Dr. Lynn Vartan, director of APEX events, suggested reaching out to professors as the first step in that process.

“If a student reaches out and is interested, that’s like gold,” Dr. Vartan said.  “We (the professors) love that.”

You can find Graslie’s video channel “The Brain Scoop” here and her website here.

Story By
Trenton Flager for SUU NEWS

Photo By
Trenton Flager for SUU News