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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Meet the PhD student who makes science accessible through social media |

Follow on Twitter as @samanthalui_
You can listen to Samantha Yammine's full interview on Cross Country Checkup.

"By day, Samantha Yammine studies how the brain works" according to Samantha Lui, Journalist and videographer.

Along the way, she snaps selfies, takes photos of her research and tweets updates to thousands of her followers on social media.

Can we teach science in the streets?

Yammine, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto's molecular genetics department, is a science communicator: she shares science-related topics with non-experts, whether it's through teaching workshops, giving lab tours or talking to others about her research.

"I want to show people what science really is, which is the iterative reproducible process of finding [and] getting closer to new truths," she said in an interview with host Duncan McCue during Checkup's episode on Canadians' trust in science.

For Yammine, Twitter and Instagram are her way of educating the public about her studies.

"I couldn't think of a better way to do it than just doing it the way every other industry does it, which is through social media," she said.

Yammine, 27, has been teaching and doing public outreach for most of her life. In 2016, she started an Instagram to get a bigger audience. Since then, she's gained over 20,000 followers.

"I think that the audience size tells us about a thirst people have to better understand the process of science," she said.

"I have a mixture of aspiring scientists, a lot of high school and undergraduate students. I have a ton of parents who have young kids who want to learn more about how their kids can get into a [university] program like mine. And then, I have other scientists following along as well who are just curious to learn about other people's work."

Criticism over her content
Samantha Yammine, who often 
posts selfies on her Instagram, 
has been criticized 
on her approach 
to educating others about science.
Photo: Submitted by Samantha Yammine.
Scrolling through Yammine's social feed, it's clear makeup and fashion are among her many interests including science. Along with her photos, she often posts about neuroscience, her daily work life and fun facts from studies she finds interesting. 

However, her approach to teaching others about science isn't always met favourably.

Yammine has attracted her fair share of detractors on the internet. In fact, her selfies, videos and use of emojis have even been criticized from her own colleagues at school.

Being a woman in the field
With science still heavily male-dominated, Yammine admits being a woman in the field can often be a challenge.
"It's difficult getting people to take you seriously, and I often have to prove my credibility and convince people that I know what I'm talking about," she said.

Samantha Lui writes in the end of her article,"The beauty is that as a female scientist, I think I can better reach half the population and those people who have never felt themselves, never seen themselves in [the field]. I have this immediate advantage just because I am a woman. I think people can relate to me more."

Source: and Science.Sam Channel (YouTube)