We asked several amazing women scientists who their fictional science inspiration is.
This could be a character from a book, TV show, or a movie that inspired or fostered their interest in science. You might be surprised at which characters they looked up to!
The Marine Biologist characters from A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle
Dr. Anya Brown, Microbial Ecologist, loved to read as a kid (and still does). One of her favorites was A Ring of Endless Light, where the father of the main character and a Marine Biologist. This fictional community of Marine Biologists and their connections started her interest in the field and early science inspirations.
Ms. Frizzle, Magic School bus
The incredible, fantastic educator, Ms. Frizzle, greatly inspired more than one of our female scientists (unsurprisingly!) Dr. Beth Lenz, Marine Biologist, especially remembers how she encouraged her students to get messy. Getting messy is what a field biologist is all about!
Kat Beheshti, Ph. D. Candidate & Marine Ecologist, also still gets excited when she remembers Ms. Frizzle and how she showed her kids all the cool things about the world and nature! Seeing this as a kid was not only awesome, it inspired her to become a woman in science.
Dr. Dana Scully, X-Files
Scully also gets more than one nod as a hero to our women scientists. She was an inspirational scientist for Dr. Jenan Karbush, Chemical Oceanographer / Organic Geochemist, because she was very logical, skeptical, but also open minded to all the crazy things during the show. Turns out, this is a pretty good representation of what a scientist should be and what Dr. Karbush would emulate when she became a scientist.
Dr. Miho Janvier, Solar & Space Physicist, was inspired by her confident attitude, and way of solving problems from a scientific and skeptical point of view. That said, she also has a bit of Mulder in her 🙂 She leaned towards Mulder’s side of believing in extraterrestrial beings. This is likely one of the reasons she wanted to do astrophysics in the first place – so the show was an overall inspiration!
While Ms. Frizzle and Matilda were great examples of characters who love knowledge and learning, Cassie from Animorphs really drew in Amelia Munson, Ph. D Candidate & Behavioral Ecologist. In the book series kids could touch animals and turn into them, which brought with it an understanding of the animals (while fighting space aliens). Cassie’s parents were Vetrenarians, so she tended to be more thoughtful and scientific. Dr. Munson loved learning about animals through learning about another person and that connection helped drive her into a science career.
Rossana Maguiña, M.S. Neotropical Pollination Biologist, had a little more difficulty with this, as she didn’t remember growing up thinking about scientists and science too much. One show that does stand out in her memory, is Captain Planet. She remembers how he was fighting pollution and her love of nature drew her to these characters.
Heather Hillard, M.S. Marine Biologist and Artist, also sadly didn’t have many fictional science heroes as a kid. But down deep, is her love of Indiana Jones. As an Archaeologist, it’s not in the natural sciences she ended up studying, but she loved the idea of going out into the world, studying old cultures, exploring and traveling.
Dr. Allen Grant, Jurassic Park
For Dr. Sammy Davis, Ecologist, this was a no brainer. The character was an inspiration in both the book and the movie for this female scientist. Why? He is all about that life! He lives for his science, loves his work and what it means / what you can infer about how dinosaurs lived. But, when it comes down to it he takes all that theoretical knowledge to apply it so… people don’t die.
Who are your favorite fictional scientist or explorers?
Let us know in the comments!
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