This is what a scientist looks like

Last year, I told you about a group of 7th graders who took a trip to Fermilab that completely changed their perception of what scientists ought to look like. Before they went on the field trip, "scientists" were bald white guys in lab coats who practiced, primarily, chemistry, and who were deeply weird.

At Fermilab, the kids realized that scientists were, basically, people. All ages. All races. Many with luxuriant, flowing hair. Doing things that actually seemed like fun.

This is What a Scientist Looks Like is a Tumblr that kind of does the same thing, but for people who can't just take the day off for a Fermilab visit. On it, you'll find photos of scientists in their natural habitats—practicing yoga, looking gleefully at Lego models, even lifting startlingly large weights.

If you've ever wondered who I'm talking about when I tell you that "researchers" found something ... this is who the researchers are. Think about it as a gossip magazine column: "Scientists! They're just like us!"

Well, except for the entomologist lifting weights. She's clearly better than me.


  1. i’m a deeply weird, white, prematurely balding 7th grader…  does that mean i can no longer dream of being a scientist?

    1.  It was my first time doing a push press with 95 pounds, my previous best was 65… so yeah, probably wasn’t perfect! I did try to readjust when I locked out at the top. Since it was a competition there was a guy judging our technique.

    1. It loaded for me – it’s worth trying again… her scanning electron microscope images are amazing. The caterpillar foot looks straight out of Lovecraft/Giger.

      1. The site isn’t borked, but the link is. The “entomologist lifting weights” link should point to:

  2. the next field trip will be to hooters…before going, students thought that hooters employees were brain-dead bimbos with luxuriant, flowing hair, whose bra sizes were larger than their IQs…

  3. Pay attention to the weight of the free weights, not the size.  There is a current trend for colored free weights to appear the same size as normal free weights and yet weigh less.  You can only tell the difference by what’s printed on them and their thickness, not their diameter.

    1.  Yes, bumper plates are made to be the same size so you can drop them. In this photo I’m doing a push press with 95 pounds.

  4. A friend (who has children roughly the same ages as mine) is a chemist.  When her kids were in grade school, whatever class they were in got to have a field trip each year to a “real chemistry lab” where she taught the entire class how to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen and polymer to play with and bring home.

    Grabbing the attention of young children *before* they learn the negative stereotypes….brilliant.

    1. My father the physicist used to come and do laser shows at my elementary school. I suspect this would be impossible due to liabilities these days.

  5. Now if we could only resolve to pay teachers what they’re really worth to society, American kids might actually be motivated to learn from and possibly even respect them.

  6. Well, I’m a scientist. I’m pretty sure no one’s interested in photos of me in the same way that they’re interested in photos of Brigette but perhaps I’ll submit a sexy photo of myself in the field (maybe this one).

      1. I’ll take that as saying you agree I’m sexy :)

        For the record, that is the only time I’ve ever looked good in a hat (either that hat or any other).

        p.s. I found your website, I like your “An awful lot of running” illustration :)

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