Katie Murphy Is Inspiring the Next Generation of Plant Scientists Through TikTok
Like many people these days, Katie Murphy, PhD, is spending a lot of time on TikTok. But Katie comes to the platform with a mission: help more young people see themselves as scientists. Through @Real_Time_Science on TikTok and Instagram, Katie is documenting the progression of her research over the course of a year.
Her choice of platforms specifically targets youth, with her videos helping make scientific careers and the scientific process feel more accessible. “It is so important for young people to see themselves in potential careers, especially someone who looks like them,” says Katie. “We form our beliefs at such a young age, and I want to help more young people understand how science is really done so that they can trust scientists and the information we share. I also want Real Time Science to show youth that science is for everyone.”
Katie’s research is a collaboration between Dr. Doug Allen’s and Dr. Malia Gehan’s labs, funded by the Enterprise Institute. Using Nicotiana as a model system, the team is working to understand how plants with increased oil in their leaves hold up under different stressed conditions.
“Science communication is really hard,” explains Katie. “I truly admire science communicators.” Katie draws inspiration for her videos from peers and iconic science communicators alike. “I’m always inspired by Kevin Cox from the Center and his dedication to science communication and amplifying Black scientists on Twitter and YouTube. Our styles and platforms are different, which I think is a positive because no one communication style is going to make sense or connect with everyone,” she explains.
Katie grew up watching Bill Nye, so he is a constant source of inspiration, as is Emily’s Wonder Lab, who Katie thinks of as a modern version of Bill Nye. “I think the most inspiring science communicators are people who are sharing science while being unapologetically themselves - not a textbook form of how they think communication and science should look,” says Katie.