Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stylish Scientists: Sam

Where are you in your science career? 
I’m entering the second year of my PhD 

Tell us a bit about your research and what you hope to accomplish 
Our lab studies the development of the nervous system in fruit flies. As a geneticist I hope to find the genes that underlie this process and figure out how they do it. 

Your earliest fashion memory 
My mother (love you mom, but) dressed us both in absurd, matching, homemade outfits. They were often made from very bright, floral patterns and in the form of parachute pants and jump suits. To add to this, I had a bowl cut and an androgynous name so I think my sex was very unclear for a while. It was a crime of fashion…just ridiculous. 

Who and what influenced your style? 
Who: random strangers. I’m not really in touch with current fashion, though from time to time I see enough of the same look and I realize it’s a “thing” right now. If I like it I’ll follow the trend (I was excited when combat boots became really popular, for instance) and if I don’t I’ll just respectfully admire from a distance (still don’t understand ‘ombre’). Many times I’ve been out in public and have seen girls wearing something that really stands out (perhaps just to me) and I make a mental note to buy something similar next time I’m shopping. The nice thing about copying strangers is that it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever find out you copied them.
What: my ‘style’ is largely driven by comfort and ease. I can’t stand being pinched, scratched or compressed by my clothes so that leaves me with a pretty basic wardrobe. I believe I’m known for my exploitation of yoga pants. But! I think I make up for it in accessories. When you wear simple, monochromatic patterns you really get to play around with jewelry, shoes and even makeup. Red lipstick and bracelets are a great way to trick people into thinking you planned this outfit carefully. 

Your favorite brands and places to shop 
A lot of my clothes came from small boutiques from my college town in the Midwest, so they’re not brands or names that anyone would recognize. I like Urban Outfitters, I think many people our age do. Also Zara. And I still have some random stuff from high school that I’ll probably wear until it stops fitting or finally falls apart. 

Has NYC influenced your style after you’ve moved here? 
Yes, definitely. I grew up mostly in Minnesota and Wisconsin so my wardrobe decisions were made with one goal: be warm. There’s no shame in sweatpants when it’s 2 degrees and you walk to class in 4 feet of snow 5 months out of the year. NYC has notably milder weather so I’ve expanded my closet to encompass more dresses and skirts.
NYC also has a much more diverse range of styles and a liberal audience so I’ve started wearing things that would maybe be judged or cause me to stand out from some of the more conservative crowds in the Midwest. This city is awesome because no matter how strange you look, you probably still look normal by NYC standards. At work I try to look decently professional but on the weekends I wear whatever I feel like. 

Your everyday science uniform 
If it’s warm and sunny: a dress with boots or flats. If it’s cloudy or cold: t-shirt and hoodie with sneakers. 

What do you think about looking good in the laboratory? 
Why not? You’re around these people 8+ hours a day, you might as well let them see who you are besides a scientist. We’re somewhat restricted by EHS guidelines but I actually think that forces us to explore new territory in fashion. I used to wear plain flip-flops all of the time, but now that I need to wear close-toed shoes I experiment with sneakers and boots. I get to shop for tights with cool designs to wear under dresses and skirts. I feel bad for dudes though, I’m not sure what you guys get to experiment with. 

Any thoughts about how the general public perceives scientists and their appearance? 
Obviously the world thinks we all work in Dexter’s Lab and only wear lab coats and goggles. But when I think of bankers I picture them in suits, when I think of doctors I imagine them in scrubs, even though I’m sure they don’t wear their uniforms 24/7. In science we’re lucky in that we can (with some limits) show up to work in the same clothes we’d wear in our free time. 

How do scientists perceive scientist that dress stylishly? 
I can’t speak for anyone but myself but I admire, possibly to the point of envy, female scientists with good style. I’m sure every PhD is just as, if not busier than I am and I don’t know where they find the time to shop and put themselves together so well. And when I meet female scientists who not only are clearly intelligent and talented, but also look great all of the time I have girl crushes. 

Your top three things to see in NYC 
I’m new here so take my advice with a grain of salt, but (1) Prospect Park because it’s beautiful (2) NYC Ballet because student rush tickets are only $20 and (3) Upright Citizens Brigade because open mic night is either funny or really awkward, which is also funny. 

All pictures are taken and edited by me.

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  1. I love that last picture! She's so pretty and the all white background is so crisp. Great stylish scientist interview!

    Much love,

  2. There is a statement that the choice of shoes depends upon profession but this statement becomes wrong in this case.Great to see how a scientist can be so stylish and trendy.

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