Emily Graslie is into dead things, and she’s not afraid to talk about it.
Emily is the Volunteer Curatorial Assistant at the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at the University of Montana.
She shares her knowledge of and passion for taxidermy, natural history, and animal specimen preparation (dead things) with me and other viewers worldwide as the host of an educational YouTube show and blog called The Brain Scoop.
A quirky, intelligent host, Emily takes her audience behind the scenes of a zoology museum. Episodes include a “how-to” for skinning a wolf, tours of the museum’s collections, and scooping actual (wolf) brains.
In the first episode of The Brain Scoop that I watched, Emily expertly wielded her scalpel to dissect a fully skinned wolf. It was aptly titled, “Gutting the Wolf.” I was hooked by the compelling content (Haven’t you always wondered what the inside of an animal’s knee or hip joint looks like?).
Emily’s jovial, informative commentary mixes scientific terminology and facts with everyday speak. For me, a self-defined nerd, it was a science textbook fantasy come to life.
Note for the science-y, yet squeamish: not every episode ranks quite as high as “Gutting the Wolf” on the Gross-o-meter. Others are lab-free and packed with fun facts, for example “Tetrapodal Locomotion” is all about how Tetrapods (amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles) get around.
The Brain Scoop is highly educational and smartly written. It is also pretty hilarious at times.
For example, while en route to pick up the wolf specimen from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Emily calls the parks department to double-check the pickup address. “Hi, I’m Emily Graslie. I’m on my way to pick up a wolf that Liz said she was holding for us.” She pauses and repeats, “A wolf, it’s in the freezer.” Then, “Oh … sorry.” Emily had called LensCrafters by mistake!
Each episode further confirms Emily’s adage, “There’s never a normal day in the Zoological Museum.”
The Brain Scoop is more than an engrossing show about sometimes gross but mostly fascinating aspects of zoology and taxidermy. The show is a fine example of a positive, alternative use of the media platform that is YouTube. Emily and The Brain Scoop, along with Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party, TED Talks, and The Ellen Show all feature smart women using YouTube as a medium to share knowledge, interesting ideas, art, or science.
I think this sort of content is engaging and inspiring for girls and young women. Emily’s unabashed passion for stuffed birds and bear skulls inspires viewers, especially girls and women since the host is an intelligent, young woman, to explore their own interests—in science, or anything!
In my opinion, there should never be a shortage of nerdy girls sharing their love of science. Well done, Emily! I’m kinda into dead things now, too.