Socially Speaking: Serri Graslie


This is the second post of a new social sandbox series, “Socially Speaking,” where we talk to NPR reporters and producers about their experiments in the social space. Who do you want to hear from next? Send me your suggestions on Twitter.

Kate, social media intern


NPR desk: Digital News, All Things Considered

Twitter handle: @sgraslie

The takeaway: Invite your audience to assist with the information-gathering process. You’ll produce more interesting, diverse stories.

Tell me about your morning social media routine.

The first thing I do is load TweetDeck and see what tweets have come in overnight, retweet a few things. I may also post some quotables or takeaways from the interviews we did the day before.

Who are your favorite people to follow on social media?

Chris Hadfield. Whether it’s on Reddit or Twitter, the Canadian astronaut really knows how to engage people. Member station KCRW has a fresh approach to Instagram. Writer Matthew Ingram is someone who gets why it’s important to use social media to engage with readers, not just spit out links to your content.

What platforms do you use most often?

Twitter and Facebook mostly. I’ve started an Instagram account. We’ve used that to feature in-studio guests, to promote different commentaries, and share photos from our hosts, including Melissa Block’s recent trip to a heirloom apple orchard. And then we’ll highlight responses to different callouts we’ve done on social media. For example, we asked people to send us photos of nature reclaiming space for the NPR Cities project.

Have you found a platform that gives you the best responses?

It sort of depends on what you’re looking for. Twitter and Facebook are great places for people to contact us if they’re having trouble hearing their member station feed. As far as reaching people for callouts, I love using Google Forms. It’s totally private and it puts everything in a database that you can share with your colleagues.

Any examples of how you’ve successfully used Google forms?

Sure, there’s our trade lingo series. Melissa Block knew she wanted to talk to people in different industries about the weird lingo they use that people in other industries wouldn’t understand. We put together a form asking people to share their lingo, profession, name, email address, etc. We got so many responses from different industriestheater and food, but we also got arborists and potters.

*All Things Considered radio producer Theo Balcomb chimes in*

Theo: —and strippers. That was my favorite one.

Serri: Yeah, and video game designers. The majority of people we featured in the series were people who replied to the callout. People were basically doing homework for us.

So doing call outs on the Internet is kind of like getting the world to do your homework for you?

Exactly, it’s about tapping into that crowd source.

What are three quick tips you would share with someone who is just starting to do a callout?

VIDEO: How-to: Conducting a Callout

(Or read a summary of the tips, below.)

  1. Focus your callout question. Ask yourself whether you would have something to say in response.

  2. Provide an example. More specific examples generally receive better responses.

  3. Include contact information. Ask for email addresses, not phone numbers.

Serri: When you’re doing general crowdsourcing, stick to Twitter and Facebook. For instances where there’s a themed callout or you’re looking for a very specific type of person, subreddits are useful. (Editor’s note: this callout in the Army subreddit helped ATC find a great story.)

What would you say to people who are concerned about the time investment? Are callouts worth it?

Definitely. People are doing work for you, and it allows you to see everything at a glance. It also gives you a sense of how people feel about a subject. You might have thought people were going to respond one way or another, and then in reading your responses you realize that you were a little off base. It’s not to say you only use a media callout for sources. It’s just a way to bring the old tools into the new tools.


This conversation has been edited and condensed.


My sister is so cool. We joke that some day the two of us are going to start a social media consulting firm for non-profit businesses ‘cuz we rock the beat

(via npr)


Hi Sam!

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. As fellow YouTubers, we have much respect for others who put so much hard work into building their channel. It’s not easy, and you should be proud! That said, we’ve noticed that in your success, there has been a lack of respect in…

My first impression of Sam Pepper was watching him from a hotel window as he attempted to toss fully-clothed girls into the pool during VidCon 2013. 


Reporters: stop asking about my dating life

We’ve started placing non-monetary bets on the likelihood that I’m asked about my personal life during publicity interviews.

So far I’ve been correct 100% of the time.

I can’t completely understand the fascination with my dating life; maybe I just really do a stellar job of keeping it ambiguous and therefore compellingly mysterious, such that it warrants questioning during professional interviews. But more often there’s this awe-like oscillation between “It must be really hard for you to date because your job is so unique and you do gross things sometime” and “You must get dates all of the time.”

Like today. I mention how I find standing in the dermestid colony room is comforting; it’s an area I wander to when I need to clear my head. It’s quiet, save for the gentle crackling of the busy beetles, hungrily going about their lives while they eat and breed and die among eviscerated fauna. Pretty soothing. Believe me, there is no quieter place in the Museum. But the minute I being this up the response is “oh giiiirrrrlll we’ve got to get you a date.”

I get that I’m this quirky paradox of a woman: how is it possible I’m pretty, articulate, and also smart? and kinda weird? Gosh the solution to those problems must mean I only got this way because I didn’t have a man in my life to keep me boring and level-headed. Ignore the fact they assume I am also straight.

It comes up again: “do you work with any hot, Indiana Jones scientists?” Hey here’s one for you: are you going to ask my male colleagues these same questions? Going to imply they need to get a date instead of publish so many compelling papers about their research? And I’ll have you know that I’m infinitely more attracted to someone’s wit and candor, and the quality of the work they publish in reputable scientific journals and the eagerness they have to explore our world than whatever physical form they ended up taking. I would marry a gorilla if it were so sophisticated.

Sometimes I feel the most sexism occurring in these fields comes in the form of awkward publicity. I’ve also been asked by reporters if I would pose for Playboy if approached - and what I would charge to accept. If you want to ask me about natural history, or museums, or social media, or science literacy - be my guest. But don’t expect a straightforward answer if you derail the conversation to pry into my personal life.


Here we go. 
This is the beginning of a POTENTIALLY REAL mystery! 
More chapters to follow!

Sometimes cats are too precious for the big ol’ outside world. 

Always reblog Tubby Cat and Surly Girl. 


A special foodie episode in which Emily Graslie and Emma (and, to a far lesser extent, Mike) teach you how to bake simple and delicious chocolate chip cookies!

Emma and I had a sleepover and ate sooooo many cookies. Those are the most important parts of being an adult. 

Let’s talk. 

Created a process gif of the Project for Awesome painting that was completed back in June. Check out the stills here.
Been staring at a blank canvas for a while now. 

Created a process gif of the Project for Awesome painting that was completed back in June. Check out the stills here.

Been staring at a blank canvas for a while now. 


In which Emily Graslie, the brilliant and wonderful host of The Brain Scoop, fills you in on how to land your dream job!

There are no magical formulas for landing your dream job, and it’s very possible in another universe I would have never stumbled into the Museum in Montana and instead I would have married my college boyfriend and been a struggling landscape artist and would have been okay with my life. But I knew at some point in all of it that the life I was envisioning for myself wasn’t what I wanted, and thus started a desperate search for the job of my dreams. 

3 years later I’m typing this from my chemistry lab-turned office at The Field Museum, surrounded by enough love and support and discovery to fill several lifetimes - and if there’s one thing I advocate for it’s taking your own destiny by the horns and leading it to where you want to go, so you can feel the same way I do. 

I hope you find this video useful, too. I’m really glad Mike and Emma asked me to write this script and let me host on their channel - I’m a big fan of the work they do and have a ton of respect for both of them as brilliant, well-adjusted adults, and I hope I can be as cool as they are when I grow up. 

So I’ve only performed spoken art once, and am so, so far from being decent, but I adore your piece so I would like to give it a shot. Apologies for my sound quality and stuttering; and thank you, Emily, for this wonderful piece and being a wonderful person through and through.

(Here is a link to said written piece if you haven’t read it yet! Read it now! It’s amazing)

wherein Kimberly does this justice. 

I wrote a thing.

We need more voices in science
to step up in defiance for those characters 
that get erased from our stories; accolades and glories granted to counterparts 
as though we didn’t have the smarts to achieve 
the impossible, believe in the improbable 
and create the unthinkable. 
It’s unthinkable to me that our hindsight is so blinded. 
Turning the cheek too many times makes me think you’re shaking your head:
no, no, no. 

"Hey - you look good in that dress today." 
Pay no mind to the mess that comment made 
of my self-confidence. It seems pretty obvious 
the words they think are innocuous are noxious, 
breeding doubt and insecurity, feeding bouts of fury in me
as I hear the same phrases repeated to the women in my classes,
our lab mates and the masses of budding genius minds
that yearn to focus on their hypotheses and methods 
but instead they’re distracted by those words left unretracted: 
"you look good in that dress today."

If you tell her that she’s pretty before you tell her that she’s smart,
don’t be startled when she starts to parcel out and pull apart 
her individuality. Trading physics books for glossy magazines. 
Instead of figuring fifty ways to solve differentials she’s counting up 
fifty ways to potentially please her partner, 
wondering - is this what is appealing? this feeling of cheapening my intelligence
because we’re terrified to be marginalized for tying to have it all,
all the while face burning, yearning tears not to drip drop while your stomach flip flops
at being called out for a love of learning. 

Just between us, from one woman to another 
it’ll take a while to recover while we wonder without ignorance
why there are so many instances of being told to be a mother
before we’re told to be discoverers. 
And I hope in twenty years or maybe less 
we’ll be blessed with plenty of reassurances that our work
is recognized for its significance, and the difference is 
we’ll be standing up for our accomplishments - not alone but with accomplices within our fields. 
Our fields. 
And it won’t be such a novelty to be so proudly standing up for our beliefs
and our discoveries. 
We need more voices in science, and not those that just say, hey- 
You look good in that dress today. 

—- 8/27/14