'Actual Living Scientists' Want You to Get to Know Them
A hashtag started by an Alabama biologist aims to expose more people to real scientists and the work they do.
Have you ever met an actual living scientist? David Steen, a biologist from Alabama, is disappointed that the majority of Americans have not. He thinks scientists haven't done a great job helping the world understand their work and why it's important.
Referring to a 2011 survey that found 66 percent of people in the United States couldn't name a single living scientist, Steen introduced himself and his work on Twitter and encouraged other scientists to do the same.
The hashtag quickly began trending. Hundreds of scientists from every field continue to tweet about the work they do, from archaeologists digging up skeletons, to conservation biologists saving animals from extinction, to oceanographers studying the effects of climate change on coastal marine life.
This isn't the first time Steen has tried to bridge the gap between the general public and the science community. A few years ago he began identifying snakes on Twitter.
He uses hashtags like #notacottonmouth and #notacopperheard to help people realize that many of the snakes they assume are venomous are actually harmless.
He continues to identify snakes in photos that other users tweet to him, which earned him the honor of being named Best Biologist on Twitter by Slate.
"I think it's a great opportunity for folks to see that scientists aren't a humorless and homogeneous lot, we are people too," Steen recently told AL.com.
Unexpectedly, #ActualLivingScientist has also been coupled with another trending hashtag - #DressLikeAWoman. It emerged after Axios reported that an anonymous source who worked on Trump's campaign said President Donald Trump likes female staff "to dress like women."
Some of the female (and male) scientists who used #ActualLivingScientist posted photos of themselves doing field work or wearing protective gear while in the lab to show that there are, in fact, many different ways to dress like a woman.