I was introduced to Raychelle Burks at a panel at DragonCon this year. She was discussing how realistic the Netflix Marvel show, Luke Cage is. She was energetic and enthusiastic, and it was hard not be caught up in her love of science. She currently works at St. Edwards University teaching chemistry.
"A chemistry enthusiast, Dr. Burks hopes to ignite her students' appreciation of chemistry through innovative projects, multi-media education tools, and probably far too many pop culture references."
1) What sparked your love of science and technology?
During a junior high school trip to DC, we went on a FBI tour and learned a bit about their forensic science services. This got me hooked on science! Before then, I'd never really "got" the practical usefulness of science. Since then, I've been a science nerd!
2) How did you get into forensic research?
I learned in college that lots of forensic science is analytical chemistry - the science of identifying and quantifying matter. During college, I had the opportunity to do analytical chemistry research applied to the study of lakes (limnology). In graduate school, I focused on samples of forensic interest - drugs, explosives, etc.
3) How did your podcast come to be? How did you start that? And how can our readers access it to listen to it?
Through twitter and a meet-up at a science communication conference, I met fellow scientists and science teachers @DNLee5 and @_adverbia. We share of several fandoms and love getting nerdy about them. We decided to turn our scientific eye toward reviewing movies and TV shows with the @curlyhairmafia. People can check out our stuff at www.curlyhairmafia.com.
4) What things do you fangirl, or geek out about? What fandoms do you enjoy?
I love Star Wars, Star Trek, all things Agatha Christie and Murder, She Wrote, Alien, Predator, Marvel, DC... too many, perhaps!
5) You have been to several fan conventions-what is one of your favorite or most fun experience you have had at a convention?
I love DragonCon! I am also on staff at GeekGirlCon and run the DIY Science Zone. I hope to make it to Universal Fan Con in 2018 when it launches.
6) What are some hobbies and things that you enjoy doing?
Like Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, I enjoying knitting. Perhaps unlike Miss Marple, I like to knit while enjoying a football or basketball game! I also love a good book and travelling.
7) What advice would you give girls, or mothers with girls in how to get to appreciate and be involved in the sciences, and foster a love of science and curiosity of the world around them?
Start with what you love and then dig into the science behind it. I enjoy knitting and there's some really cool knitting and crochet math! As a sports fan, it's always fun to learn the science there. Whatever you enjoy, chase down the science and tech behind it. Once you're down the dork rabbit hole, you'll soon be nerding out!. Because you'll be learning about something you love, it'll hopefully be fun!
8) What is some advice you would give someone who is shy or nervous about pursuing a career, or even a hobby, in science?
Find an environment/group that supports you and your goals. Thankfully, more and more opportunities for STEM clubs and meet-ups are popping up. The Girl Scouts does good STEM programming and lots of universities offer great STEM outreach that is low-to-no cost for the community. Finding a place that you feel comfortable geeking out in will give you a chance to try new things, gaining experience and confidence.
9) What are some current projects you are working on? Or looking forward to working on?
Work wise, my research team is working hard to design sensors for different chemicals of forensic interest that use smartphones. I just filmed new episodes of Science Channel's Outrageous Acts of Science. For Thanksgiving, @DNLee5 and I are travelling to the UK!
10) What is the best way to reach you, or follow all your projects you are working on?
Twitter - @DrRubidium