We sat down with the wonderful Ines Dawson of Draw Curisosity to chat about that little Eureka moment, creativity in science and squirting bumblebees. You can watch our video with Simon Clark here, or with Jon Perry here.

Transcript is below.

More about InÉs

Inés Dawson is currently a DPhil student at the University of Oxford, researching insect flight. She also has a Biological Sciences graduate from the University of Oxford. She has always been passionate about sharing the fun aspects of science with others, and with Draw Curiosity she would love to extend the impact of her outreach.

Draw Curiosity was born in January 2016. A combination of taking part in the Code First Girls project, attending the SICB 2016 Conference in Portland and having extremely encouraging friends, she decided to bite the bullet and finally pursue her dream of doing science communication.

She makes several series on Draw Curiosity:

  • Draw Curiosity– the standard format, where she takes an interesting topic and make a 3 – 5 minute video about it
  • Snippet Science – where she talks about a scientific concept in 2 minutes or less
  • Docuriosity – where she makes more longform content, exploring a concept in-depth!
  • Raw Curiosity – where she takes you along with me to events that revolve around science


Transcript

Ali: Well, hello there and welcome to Collab Lab. For your viewing pleasure we have made three interviews with some big names in science YouTube. We've asked them what they think makes a good video, how they got started and what advice they have for those who are getting started ourselves. In this video we take to Ines Dawson from Draw Curiosity about that little Eureka moment, about creativity in science, and of course, about squirting bumblebees. 

Enjoy!

This is the glorious Ines Dawson. We've just been filming in the YouTube space, that's why there's all this stuff everywhere. Ines is one of the next big things. You are, in fact, a YouTube next upper. Is that right?

Ines: Don't know if that means I'm a big thing. But it is exciting.

A: I feel like it does. I can feel like there's a sort of radiation of... I assume that's the radiation of greatness? It could be actual radioactivity.

I: I think it's the stage lights

A: It could be the lights

(laughs)

A: It's the YouTube Space, there are so many lights. Ines, what is your YouTube handle?

I: So my YouTube channel is Draw Curiosity and it's a science channel about things which draw my curiosity. 

A: And how long have you been making video content?

I: On YouTube, I actually started around 10 years ago but it wasn't anything serious. It was more YouTube is a good place to dump videos that I make that I want to show my friends. Sort of like Google Drive but a bit more public. I mean, I always enjoyed making video content but I hadn't tried to make anything particularly challenging and Draw Curiosity was something that I truly wanted to make as a portfolio or something that I am very proud of and want people to find.

A: What was the thing that motivated you to start that channel?

I: Back in January 2016 I went to a conference called SICB and there were two people there who convinced me finally to start with this. Because I've been wanting to do it for ages. One was Mark Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel prizes and he was running this scicomm workshop and he was so lovely. I'm pretty sure he said this to everyone but he said to me, "You're already a science communicator". I'm sure he said that to everyone at the workshop.

A: We can't be sure of that.

I: And he was being very nice. But that actually, I don't know, it gave me an ounce of confidence to get started and I have this wonderful friend called Meena who does design and drawing and I stayed with her and she said, "You know, Ines, you've been wanting to make these for, since you were six basically. Why haven't you started? You're just putting it off, so do it." So she actually made me shell out and buy a website, www.drawcuriosity.com, and get the YouTube channel so I could get the handle.

A: What was the reason that you were wanting to make videos for so long?

I: I've always enjoyed science but I also enjoy having a creative side to things and I like making things. And although, I can't believe I'm saying academia is fun, but I think there's an element of creativity that's missing. Especially when you're doing experiments over and over and over, which I thought I could find in say documentaries or communicating science. So that's why i wanted to do it.

A: That is, I just want to pull you up on that, it's a bit of a bug bear of mine. So I really dislike it when people say that science isn't particularly creative. I think it's extremely creative and I think that repetitive thing you're talking about, you know, you do it in any creative industry. That's how you get good at creating stuff. So I kind of disagree with you on that one.

I: I do actually kind of agree with you there. I feel perhaps at the stage that I'm at, a DPhil student, it's slightly more dictated what I get to do. So in that respect, maybe it's a little bit less creative.

A: You're a PhD student and I know from personal experience that it can be very difficult, especially when you're talking about your own subject but also when you're trying to talk about science and you are aware of how complicated the picture is and often very beautiful because of its complexity. But you know you need to distil it down for everybody, really. How do you do that?

I: Generally what happens is I hear something and I think, that's a great story! And I guess eventually you just strip the story down to "what is the core message?". I tend to like things that are a little bit complicated so I end up having to trying to pull more bits down so I don't, you know, bore the people watching it. I think people do take great pleasure in that little Eureka moment when you get something that complex but beautiful and elegant. And I think science actually has quite a lot of stories that are like that. So I enjoy finding them and I especially like finding one that has been described in perhaps a more boring way or a paper that, you know, you read it and you think "this is so great!". But no one has spoken about it, like why do bumblebees squirt? That was such a cool paper. But I bet that no one's read that.

A: It sounds disgusting, that's why! If you could go back to the very beginning when you were first starting to make stuff and tell slightly younger Ines, do do something or don't do something, what would it be?

I: I would say "you know how you are watching tutorials on animation, video and camera handling? Have a look at audio engineering as well." Because I think my first few videos, I don't think the audio was that terrible. For as far as I was concerned if you could hear me, that's great. But then some people said "the room's a bit echo-y, you could do background noise removing stuff" and when I did learn to process audio, now when I do listen to my older stuff I can really tell the difference.

A: Four quick questions, four short answers. One: To all of us fresh new scicommers, why should they do it?

I: Because it's fun! And because other people find it fun. Basically, if you're enthusiastic about something, I think you should share it with the world. Whether that be science or whether there's anything else, any other hobby which you are enthusiastic about and you want to create videos about it but you're not feeling confident. I think you should! Because, I think people latch on to enthusiasm and enthusiasm is what keeps you going. And honestly, there is nothing better than watching and listening to someone who is passionate about something, and learning about something new that you didn't think you could be passionate about through that other person's passion.

A: I think understood that, and I think I agree with it. What's one thing to definitely do?

I: I would say definitely reach out to other people, don't be an isolated creator. Collaborations are great and I definitely appreciated being able to meet all of the lovely people that I have and I'm really glad that I have reached out to so many people because most people, turns out they are really lovely and want to work with you and they want to make things. And I think that in itself is a rewarding experience. I think it's important, obviously to have a mission of value for the people watching but it's also got to be valuable for you. It's got to be good for you too. And in that respect I think it is. 

A: And one thing to definitely to avoid?

I: Avoid not doing things. Do things! If you want to create something, go ahead and do it because the only way you can get better is by making more of it. So, I guess, getting over perfectionism would be another way of putting it.

A: So, avoid perfectionism?

I: Yes.

A: Alright, I'll take that. 

I: Avoid perfectionism, doesn't mean make a pig's ear of it. But (laughs). There's a law of diminishing returns. At some point you've got to just say, right, wrap it up. Post it. Chances are people aren't going to notice because they don't know what you were after.

A: That's, yeah. And finally, one video that you just have to watch?

I: One video you have to watch? A Cappella Science, Entropic Time. Mind blowing. Your jaw will hit the ground and you'll have to pick it up with a pulley.

A: Ines, this was such a pleasure

I: Pleasure's mine

A: I don't know what we do, I think I've shaken hands with some people, I think we hug, or maybe we just edit ourselves out like pfff.

I: We can shake hands.

A: (offscreen) I can't turn this off, it's so high-tech, YouTube Space!

A: She is so charming. If you like that, there's a link to Ines's channel here on screen as well as to another interview we did with the mighty Simon Clark from SimonOxfPhys. And if you just stumbled upon this video and you don't really know what's going on but you're kind of into it, then click subscribe and watch some more. I've bee Ali, for Collab Lab. Thanks so much for watching, bye!