MSUToday
Published: Oct. 28, 2019

MSU SciComm and FRIB partner to host YouTube star

Contact(s): Karen King Facility for Rare Isotope Beams office: 517-908-7262 kingk@frib.msu.edu

Nearly 500 people attended a live-science art show on Oct. 19 featuring YouTube science communicator “Physics Girl” Dianna Cowern. The crowd included grade-school students, teachers, parents, college students, professors and scientists. 

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, partnered with the Michigan State University Science Communication, or MSU SciComm, a student organization, to present the show at MSU’s Wharton Center.

Cowern is the creator and host of the viral and PBS-sponsored “Physics Girl” web series. Her series has more than 1.3 million subscribers. It is a resource for videos and other materials about physics and physics-related topics. 

Her videos have received more than 80 million views. Her series has featured well-known figures including Bill Nye and Anne Wojcicki, founder of 23andMe. 

In 2019, Cowern was named to the “30 under 30” list by Forbes Magazine.

The live-science art show was part of a series of events MSU SciComm presented on Oct. 19 in its first science-art showcase. Other activities included an Abrams Planetarium show with a virtual tour of FRIB on the dome, a science-art exhibit at FRIB and a beer release and “Beat the Scientist” event at The Grid Arcade and Bar. 

FRIB graduate student Daniel Puentes helped organize the science-art showcase. Puentes studies and performs high-precision mass measurements of rare and exotic nuclei produced at FRIB, and is a member of the laboratory’s outreach committee. 

He also is the treasurer of MSU SciComm and co-host of The Sci-Files on Impact 89 FM with Chelsie Boodoo, MSU SciComm president. 

Puentes said the showcase was intended to creatively share scientific ideas and research with the public by bringing together scientists and artists. 

“MSU SciComm wanted to do something unique to help get people excited about science and science communication. We focused on science-art because art is a universal language that anyone can understand,” said Puentes. “Partnering with FRIB to bring Physics Girl to campus was the cherry on top of our day of events. We are thrilled our first showcase was such a success and hope we inspired many new science lovers of all ages.”

The Physics Girl event was presented as part of FRIB’s Advanced Studies Gateway, or ASG, program.

ASG brings together researchers, innovators, creative thinkers, artists and performers from all fields and strengthens ties between MSU and the community. ASG events are free and open to the public. 

“We were delighted to partner with MSU SciComm to bring Physics Girl to campus,” said Thomas Glasmacher, laboratory director of FRIB. “Physics Girl aims to inspire young scientists, and training the next generation of scientists is part of our mission. Events like this also help us share with our community how the scientific discoveries made at FRIB will positively change all of our lives.”

MSU SciComm is a registered student organization dedicated to science communication beyond articles in science journals. It forges connections between scientists and MSU students and gives students opportunities to improve their skills in varied forms of speaking, writing, art and policy. The group has hosted workshops on how to communicate with journalists and policymakers and how to write about science for the public. The organization also hosts lunches on the different aspects of science policy. Learn more about MSU SciComm at msuscicomm.org

MSU is establishing FRIB as a new scientific user facility for the Office of Nuclear Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Under construction on campus and operated by MSU, FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society, including in medicine, homeland security and industry.

Banner photo by Tayler Murphy.

YouTube star “Physics Girl” Dianna Cowern (center) toured the FRIB on Oct. 19 with FRIB graduate student Daniel Puentes (left) and FRIB Laboratory Director Thomas Glasmacher (right).