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A scientist is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘a person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.’ But being a scientist can take many forms from the typical lab work to building robots.
But no matter what field of science you are in, the science community looks out for each other. Sharing with each other the highs and lows of a life in science. Celebrating successful research outcomes and supporting one another when things don’t go quite so right.
Like the times you need to reassure the public, you are definitely a scientist and not a serial killer. Over the last few days, scientists have been sharing moments in their careers when they have had to explain in a tiny bit more details what they were doing as to avoid being seen as total freaks or worse, criminals.
Using the hashtag #SerialKillerOrScientist, experts from all fields have been sharing their stories on social media. We have collected some of the best.
My colleague Udo (who sadly died last year) was stopped by the police and asked to open the containers in the back of his car. They contained five human brains. A few hours later he was released after his boss confirmed that Udo is a Neuropathologist. #SerialKillerOrScientist— DrErikMaronde (@ErikMaronde) June 16, 2018
When 'taking your work home' has a different meaning:
“Do you have more popsicles?”
“Yes, in the freezer, behind the plastic bags. Just don’t ope...”
- plastic rustles -
“OMG there are dead birds in here! Why do you have dead birds in your freezer?!”
“Where else would I put them??”#SerialKillerOrScientist— Jason Ward (@JasonWardNY) June 15, 2018
This is one way to make sure you get a seat on the bus:
Back when I was working in genetics, I had to go pick up buckets of umbilical cords from the local hospital. I didn't drive, so I was on public transit with my bright orange bucket marked "biological materials", loudly sloshing every time the bus moved. #SerialKillerOrScientist— Michelle L (@AlbinoMouse) June 15, 2018
It's important to always follow safe flight procedure:
The head of the TSA for Miami airport said that I asked him the most interesting question he’s ever been asked: does frozen blood count as a liquid with respect to carry-on requirements?
(The answer was no) #SerialKillerOrScientist— Dr. David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) June 17, 2018
Hopefully, no one was eavesdropping on this conversation:
— Lewis Bartlett (@BeesAndBaking) June 16, 2018
When snail mail is the only option:
5 mins before the last postal collection that day
Post office worker: and what's in the box?
Me (in a rush): human blood
Him: *looks nervous and worried*
Me: oh, it's in sealed vials not 'loose'
Trying to send fresh blood samples via royal mail#SerialKillerOrScientist— Olana (@Olanoo) June 16, 2018
Jokes aside, scientists do incredibly important work and as pointed out in some of the comments replying to the Twitter posts, this is a good time to reflect on the fact there is often a lack of diversity in the sciences. In the US, women make up only 26 percent of people who work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math).
Organizations like the National Girls Collaborative Project aims to make sure that all girls have access to resources which enhance STEM education and interest. Similar organizations are doing the same thing for other marginalized communities as well as providing pathways for people to enter the sciences at a later career stage.