Being a guest scientist is weird, but fun

Written by: Emily Weigel

Primary Source: Choice Words with Choosy_Female

I was recently invited to serve as a guest scientist for ISB202 (Applied Environmental and Organismal Biology), a nonmajors class teaching the basics of science.

The modules of this course are set up so that students learn to think and speak like scientists, and to develop critical thinking and logical skills to analyze the validity of information and arguments. For their last section, the students watched my recent TEDxMSU talk on my work, and posed several questions. I read through them, and here was the basic overview of the categories of the questions asked:

1. How does this relate to humans?

2. How do other animals have sex?

3. Is it always the female who chooses, and how do they do it?

4. How does homosexuality fit into all of this?

5. How did you get your data? (specifics)

6. How can I learn more?


So, this week I was asked to respond to students in a filmed chat with the course instructor (and friend) Dr. Stephen Thomas. This was hopefully able to show that scientists are real people and talk about their work in different terms in everyday speech and with the public than the language used in publications and formal presentations. We talk about the above and some other important things, like evo misconceptions and what I do when not ‘sciencing’.

Check it out. Cringe with me. Laugh with me. And most of all, share resources that the students can use that I can pass along to them!

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Emily Weigel
Emily Weigel (@Choosy_Female) is Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Zoology and in the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program at Michigan State University. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a focus on interdisciplinary research from the Georgia Institute of Technology. At MSU, Weigel conducts research in the lab of Dr. Jenny Boughman and is affiliated with the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. Her dissertation research focuses on how female choice and investment interact with male mating strategies. Additionally, Weigel’s education research asks how and why a background in genetics affects student performance in evolutionary biology. When not researching, Weigel enjoys playing soccer, surfing Netflix, and promoting STEM in the community.
Emily Weigel

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