When hearing about the #365scienceselfies challenge, I was immediately on board. I love selfies and was very willing to use this excuse to take more. I loved the idea – showing other people what scientists do on a daily basis and “humanizing” us (scientists – they’re just like us!). I was also up for the challenge of coming up with creative selfies; I knew I would run out of ideas as the year went on. But #365scienceselfies challenged even this selfie-loving scientist.
I posted 222 (if I can count correctly) selfies. After counting this, I’m too lazy to count how many there were with my computer (there were a lot). I know there would be a lot more selfies in general if I did more science without my computer. I do know I mostly took science-related selfies, but there are a handful of personal ones. I don’t even want to tell you how many pictures I averaged per photo shoot. I didn’t save the outtakes, but let’s just say it’s well over Emily’s 3.33 per selfie.
The Good: My Favorite Selfies of the Year
My favorite selfies were those in which I could express my personality. Scientists are often portrayed as nerdy, awkward, socially inept, and not interested in fun or frivolous things. Oh contraire! While I do have some nerdy interests, I wanted to use this challenge to show people that scientists are fun, relatable, and most of all normal people. Science is seen as such an esoteric field. People are scared of it and even scientists leave the field because they feel left out (especially women). My goal with #365scienceselfies was to show that (some) scientists wear sparkles instead of lab coats (or both).
Some of my favorite selfies: Dressing up as a bird of paradise for Halloween (I love to dress up and sparkles), selfie within a selfie from a camera trap (accidental – caught myself in the act), spontaneous commentary on what scientists look like (because I don’t look like one), and sparkle lights at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Secret World exhibit (because again I love sparkles).
My absolute favorite selfie from this year though was taken in Kenya with my favorite animal. Even though I studied elephants for my Ph.D. and have been on safari many times before, this was actually one of the closest times I ever got to an elephant (without being charged).
One of the best parts of #365scienceselfies was seeing fellow SNPits scientists Anna and Emily‘s science selfies as the year went by. I was inspired by their creativity, enthusiasm, and enjoyed their selfie humor. These were my favorites:
The Bad: What I Disliked About #365scienceselfies
It was too self indulgent (pardon the pun), even for me. Although I liked showing people what I was working on, when looking at my instagram reel from afar and seeing MOSTLY me (and mostly at my computer), it was a little too much. I wanted to involve others, but unlike Emily, I am a private selfie taker. I always ask before taking someone’s photo and just felt intrusive asking.
I ran out of ideas. I have a lot of projects to juggle, but day in and day out, I mostly work on the same thing, or the same types of things. I tried to keep my science selfies related to science, so some days I just simply couldn’t take another selfie of me putzing around in R or writing a manuscript, but I also didn’t want to take a selfie of me watching TV or eating an apple.
I ran out of facial expressions. OK I didn’t really run out, but I ran out of ones where I look good.
The Ugly: Science is Ugly
Like Anna and Emily, I also struggled with showing the reality of science. To conduct science, you have to fail. Things will not go as planned. Only x % of grants are funded. Only one person gets the job. This is the reality of science. However, after failing, one does usually not feel like taking a posting a selfie on social media advertising their failure (especially if they are on the job market). Therefore, I contributed to creating a word of science unicorns and rainbows.
I will continue to selfie, and even #scienceselfie (the hashtag I will be using), but I certainly won’t be doing it every day. And yes Emily, it is awkward to take selfies at work (especially if people are watching you through glass walls).