Saran Toure On Interning At The American Museum of Natural History

“I get to inspire them to think deeper and encourage them to deepen their interests. Those people are the reason I show up at the museum every weekend.”

Interview by Alex Hanson
Photo: Saran working at the museum. Courtesy of Saran Toure.
One of my favorite place in New York City is the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Naturally, I find myself there often, and on one of my most recent visits I met Saran Toure, a high school student and Saltz Intern at AMNH. Saran was posted at the upper level of the Hall of Ocean Life, at a cart fitted with tanks of plankton, dishes, and magnifying glasses. She was answering questions from museum visitors as well as facilitating plankton observation and dishing out amazing facts about the tiny sea creatures, including the fact that jellyfish are a type of plankton! I was struck by Saran’s impressive ability to share her knowledge in a fun and engaging way, so I caught up with her in an email interview in December to ask her about her amazing internship and her goals for the future.

Continue reading “Saran Toure On Interning At The American Museum of Natural History”

Catching Up With Sci Chic

An interview with Sci Chic founder Erin Winick.

Interview by Alex Hanson

Feature Image: Women sporting Sci Chic jewelry, provided by Erin Winick

Back in February, mechanical engineering student Erin Winick introduced HERpothesis to the fashionable side of science when she shared the story behind Sci Chic, her jewelry line inspired by STEM. Now, Sci Chic is a little more than a year old and has grown exponentially in both reach and the products offered. Erin has done an amazing job creating a business, a brand, and bringing STEM to the masses through Sci Chic. I caught up with her to ask about Sci Chic’s development and her goals for the future.

Alex: You last wrote about Sci Chic for HERpothesis in February. How has Sci Chic developed, as a creative pursuit, since then?

Erin: We have grown and branched out a lot! We have really worked to build a community around Sci Chic and bring in women in STEM collaborators, include more areas of science, and sell in more places than just our website. We have included more earth science and math jewelry, as examples.

How have your goals changed since you started Sci Chic?

We have moved on from just trying to prove our idea to trying to reach a larger audience! We have products we have gotten awesome feedback on, know how to 3D print our products, and are set up to grow. Now we are working on building more videos, blogs, educational materials and ways for people to experience Sci Chic. We want to increase the prominence of science inspired fashion and spark every day conversations about science. Continue reading “Catching Up With Sci Chic”

Take-Home Museum Exhibit Celebrates Female Sci-Fi Writers

Catalysts, Explorers, and Secret Keepers: Women in Science Fiction aims to immerse the reader in a world of science lore that was built by women.

By Julia Arciga

Illustration: “Scholars’ Tower” by Julie Dillon (2014), courtesy of Catalysts, Explorers & Secret Keepers: Women of SF Kickstarter page

From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to her more contemporary counterparts, women have always had a full, strong voice in the written science-fiction realm. Now, The Museum of Science Fiction’s Journal of Science Fiction is creating a full anthology celebrating women in sci-fi storytelling.

Catalysts, Explorers, and Secret Keepers: Women in Science Fiction is a “take-home exhibit” from the museum that aims to immerse the reader in a world of science lore that was built by women.

“Ultimately we want to highlight and underscore [the role of women in sci-fi] with this project,” said Monica Louzon, managing editor for the Journal of Science Fiction. “I see a blog post about the issue here and there, and some women have won Hugos this year and that brought a lot of attention to women in sci-fi— but women writing science fiction is nothing new.” Continue reading “Take-Home Museum Exhibit Celebrates Female Sci-Fi Writers”

Nancy Drew and the Secret to Keeping It Fresh

Long before I knew what a feminist was, when I was a mere indoorsy only child with a library card and a beige Windows 98 desktop, I was already a fan of Nancy Drew.

By Ariana DiValentino

Gif by Alex Hanson

Long before I knew what a feminist was, when I was a mere indoorsy only child with a library card and a beige Windows 98 desktop, I was already a fan of Nancy Drew.

Wishing to combine my affinity for the mystery novels with my already fully-fledged attachment to the computer, I remember telling my grandmother (also a Nancy Drew fan from her childhood) that I wished there were Nancy Drew PC games. And like a grandmotherly miracle worker, sure enough, she procured one for my 7th birthday.

I was instantly hooked, and so was the rest of my family. It took several of us to get through that first game— Stay Tuned for Danger, about a soap opera star who has been receiving death threats. But I flew through every other game in the series, and 15 years later, I’m still looking forward to diving into the next game over a long weekend.

What I immediately loved about the games, which are made by an independent gaming studio in Bellevue, Washington called Her Interactive, was that they were far richer both in game environment and in story than any other roleplay game I had played as a child. My cousins and I had come up on, primarily, Barbie games, but Barbie Detective and Barbie Spy were no match for the complex mysteries and puzzles put before Nancy Drew. They were exciting and intriguing, with more focus on writing and art than any game I’d played before (keeping in mind that this was 2002). Gameplay relied more on following actual leads and solving layered puzzles than fast reflexes or finding random items with the assumption that you’ll find a use for them later, like most PC mystery games up to this point. Continue reading “Nancy Drew and the Secret to Keeping It Fresh”

Lemonade, Paprika, and Virtual Reality: An Interview with Priscilla Wong

I spoke with DreamWorks Animation visual development artist Priscilla Wong about the role of technology in her work, her predictions for virtual reality’s role in her field, independent distribution, and being a woman a creative field.

Interview by Alex Hanson

All art courtesy of Priscilla Wong

Priscilla Wong is a visual development artist for DreamWorks Animation. She is a master of transcending mediums, from digital art to painting to creating fantasy creatures made of cloth and other textured materials. I spoke with her about the role of technology in her work, her predictions for virtual reality’s role in her field, independent distribution, and being a woman a creative field. All the art featured is courtesy of Priscilla, and you can find more of her work on her blog, her Tumblr, and her Instagram. You’ll also find her visual influence on the Trolls movie, set to release this November.

How would you describe your artistic style?

It’s like lemonade with a dash of paprika. I like using real materials, like fabric, and unconventional materials. I think part of that comes from my love for fashion. I love Project Runway. I like different disciplines within art and design: I love graphic design, I’m in animation, I love fashion and industrial design. I try to bring as much of those influences together as possible because I think it makes a unique look and makes it universally appealing. It has a sophisticated mix to it, I feel. What I mean by lemonade with a dash of paprika is that I like things to be fresh but also a little dramatic, a little spicy. I got that from loving Diana Vreeland. She’s a fashion icon and she liked to challenge norms. She pushed aesthetics along from the 20s to the 60s. So much happened during that time and I think a lot of that has to do with her.

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For the Q Pop Shop Gallery

Continue reading “Lemonade, Paprika, and Virtual Reality: An Interview with Priscilla Wong”

Interview With Mandy Sweeney: NASA Alum and Certified Sci-Fi Geek

“The people that can work at the intersection between the sciences and the humanities will own the future.”

By Julia Arciga

Photo courtesy of Mandy Sweeney

Mandy Sweeney is the Vice President of Museum Operations at the up-and-coming Museum of Science Fiction, a NASA alum, and is currently finishing up her Harvard Master’s degree in Finance. To add to her already impressive resume, Mandy also boasts an impressive warchest of sci-fi fan info, and has an enormous passion for STEM education. Though a Skype interview, I got the pleasure of geeking out with her— Star-Trek-and-Doctor-Who style.

What was the inspiration to start the Museum of Science Fiction?

The founder of the Museum, Greg Viggiano, was inspired by the Tate Modern. It occured to him that there really was no home like that for science fiction. The genre is so broad – there’s radio, music, art, literature, film, TV, comics, cosplay, fandom – and he wondered why this hasn’t been all brought together yet. At the time I was working at NASA, he and I were talking about that and I, too, was really intrigued with this idea. Between the two of us, we realized that sci-fi is a really powerful way to engage everyone about science and makes it more accessible. So what we came to believe is that we can use sci-fi as a way to inspire and motivate others to develop positive thoughts about our future by innovating and by creating more technology. Continue reading “Interview With Mandy Sweeney: NASA Alum and Certified Sci-Fi Geek”