It’s time for the final feature of Spotlight September 2018 😦 but it is one I am looking forward to sharing with you. This science communicator from Sydney, Australia but now living in New York City is someone whose work I have loved watching. She spent six year working in education and outreach for CSIRO, the government science agency in Australia, before taking the leap across the Pacific to pursue her wonderful YouTube channel BrainCraft – which is now in its fourth series. I love following this scientist on all her social media channels and I am thrilled that she agreed to answer a few questions for my blog. So, let me introduce you to the amazing Nessy H.
Hi Nessy and welcome to Soph talks science. Let’s start right at the beginning. What sparked your interest in neuroscience and psychology?
Nessy: I was always fascinated in why people act they way that they do. Like, why do we make certain decisions? Why are we motivated to act in certain ways? Why do we often have such good or bad behaviours when they don’t necessarily have an evolutionary function?
What is your favourite brain fact?
Nessy: It’s hard to pick just one! Probably that the cells in your cerebral cortex are the oldest in your body – you’ve had them since birth. Your other body parts aren’t as old as you – for example, your colon cells are four days young and the outer layer of your skin regenerates every two weeks!
So, tell us more about BrainCraft – why did you start your YouTube channel?
Nessy: I’d worked in the classroom and one thing that always bothered me about science syllabuses was why you didn’t learn anything about yourself. Like, what do naps do to your body? How does memory work? Why do we sleep? So I set out to fill that gap and try and reach a wider audience with my scicomm efforts.
BrainCraft explores the nuances of your brain, body and behaviour. Why you act the way you do. I’ve now made 180 videos 🙂
Where do you get your content ideas come from?
Nessy: Just like science research, ideas inspire more ideas. I read a lot; books, research papers, articles, attend public talks and watch lots of videos – not just science or education ones.
What is it that you love about video over other mediums for science communication?
Nessy: I think video allows you to connect with an audience in a really unique way. YouTube has become so ubiquitous in our entertainment landscape because YouTubers have such unique personalities and personal connections with their audience. By doing science communication on YouTube, we can leverage that too.
What is the most memorable or your favourite opportunity you have got from being an EduTuber?
Nessy: I’ve interviewed and filmed with Nobel Laureates, like Elizabeth Blackburn – the only Australian woman to have won a Nobel prize, forward thinkers like George Church and personalities like Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s so cool to have a collection of these amazing minds all on my YouTube channel.
What are your top tips and advice for anyone wanting to create a science education YouTube channel?
Nessy: First up, if you have a magical iPhone or Google Pixel or Android gadget, they can do A LOT. Start off experimenting with the tech you have before you buy gear. If you’re coming at it as a scientist and don’t know much about gear, I’d pick up a straightforward point and shoot camera – like a compact Canon – with an external audio jack, and a small microphone – like the Rode videopro mic, it’s great! Good audio is definitely important!
Beyond that, be yourself! There is *so much* content on YouTube right now, it’s really exploded in the past few years. And it doesn’t excite me when I see all different people making the same types of explainer videos. Ask yourself, what’s unique about your perspective? What can you offer? And think more so about how you can just be yourself.
I don’t think I could interview you without talking about Luna. Your Twitter says that you want to make your Labradoodle famous, so have you got a masterplan for Luna’s stardom?
Nessy: Look, not to brag, but at this stage Luna has been on CNN, Discovery News, PBS and ABC Australia, so her imdb is really coming along, She’s such a go getter and she just seizes the moment.
What other interests do you have?
Nessy: Other interests?! It’s pretty hard because I do work everyday. I’ve been taking more breaks on weekends but there is always something to do. So a lot of my hobbies are oriented around self care – I do lots of pilates, bake bread, walk my dog, listen to podcasts. I constantly drag my boyfriend into random open houses or interior design stores to look at tiles and sit on chairs.
Before YouTube and living in the US, I loved skiing and scuba diving and underwater photography. Now I just have diving fins and skiing helmets stuffed in cupboards.
What does the future hold for Nessy Hill?
Nessy: After this interview it’s become apparent I really need to take more time for vacation and hobbies. So brb…
When I return, I just want to keep making cool media.
And finally, where in the world should I visit next?
Nessy: Antartica. I’m obsessed with the idea of it being ‘the end of the Earth’ and enamoured with the explorers that ventured down there just to explore. Also Southern Hemisphere represent ✌
Massive thank you to Nessy for taking time out of her hectic schedule to answer some questions for me. If you want to follow her and check out her videos, you can find her through social media below:
S P O T L I G H T S E P T E M B E R 2018 is nearly all wrapped up. I’ve had the pleasure of introducing you to 7 inspiring scientists this month so if you have missed any of their stories make sure to go back and check them out. All that is left to do now is catch up with some of our Scientists in the Spotlight from the last 12 months – so check back on Friday for that and the final installment of Spotlight September 2018. Did you enjoy this story today? Is there anyone you would love to see featured on my Scientist in the Spotlight features over the next year?
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