I interviewed Dr Lexa Grutter (all the way from Alaska) on Monday. Lexa is one of my favourite scientists. For a start she has been part of so much fascinating research that she’s coming equal first with Tony Hannan in the contest to be Australasian Science’s most covered scientist. (A contest I am sure is prestigious somewhere). Moreover, she’s great to interview and a truly charming person.
I’ll definitely cover the latest work here when it is published. However, in preparing for the interview I discovered something that struck me as even more exciting. Here is a children’s book written about the way coral reefs work, using Lexa’s research as a way to make the reef make sense.
Now a children’s book that actually talks about the science of the coral reef is exciting enough, rather than relying on all the pretty alone. However, what is, to me, even more exciting is the way the book puts a scientist (and a woman scientist at that) at the centre of the story. David Attenborough and his ilk have done wonderful things for popular understanding of the natural world. However, they usually makes it look as if the science did itself. I can recall one of my lecturers describing Attenborough’s documentaries as coming across “as if he and Darwin worked all this out together”. The tens of thousands of scientists who made the discoveries just disappear. The only scientists who generally feature are long dead.
Several of the zoologists in my book talk about being inspired by Attenborough, but also of not knowing that scientific research was a possible career. They had to stumble on it by chance after discovering they didn’t like being a vet. I don’t know how many children will be inspired by this book to become scientists, but at least they’ll know it’s an option.
Oh, and it’s not just a one off. There’s a series.