STEM Stories: Emma Brisdion
1) For our article readers out there, could you briefly talk about the For What It’s Earth Podcast, the mission, and what you and Lloyd talk about in this podcast.
In For What It’s Earth, the mission is to try and break down environmental topics. We put them in a context that is useful to people, and give them the information they need to start these conversations themselves. We also give them take away actions so they don’t feel completely overwhelmed. We do a different topic per episode and we try to make it lighthearted and quite fun. Lloyd and I have been friends for so long it's just a real treat to be working on it with him. We don't want it to be a doom and gloom environmental podcast even though some of the topics we are talking about are a bit doom and gloom.
2) Tell us about your journey creating the podcast. What inspired you and Lloyd to create it?
Lloyd and I met at University, and we were both studying biology for our bachelors. He went to study his PhD and I went into marketing; however, I missed science and I love communicating so I decided to work in science communications, which I didn’t realize was a field when I was studying. When it comes to the environment, I think it’s so important to be having these conversations. These issues affect everyone. I noticed I was having the same talks with my friends and family on environmental topics. People want to have these conversations, but they don’t always want to have them in the form of boring articles or the news. I love podcasts and the format because you can be walking to work and feel like you’re talking directly to someone in your ear. We ran a few test episodes and realized once we weren’t so nervous in front of a microphone, our natural friendship comes through. We sent it to a few people and the feedback was amazing; it is great that people have learned from something that you have done for fun. People can look at the planet in a slightly different way and evaluate the consequences of their actions on the environment.
3) What is the most interesting piece of information you have learned from researching these topics and talking with people on the podcast?
That is really tough to choose, because everyone we talk to is an expert in their field and brings so much fascinating knowledge to our conversations, and I can’t help but be inspired by these people. We did one episode on overpopulation and how that affects the environment, which for me was a challenge. It’s tough to have a conversation about family planning or choosing whether to have a second child or not, so it was a learning curve. We talked about putting the environment above potentially what you want, which was really interesting. It is fun to talk to people that challenge you. It is when you start to feel uncomfortable that you know potentially you are making the most progress.
4) Transitioning a little bit into your own life we were wondering, how did you become involved in the STEM area? Tell us a little more about your career journey.
I’ve just always been interested in environmental stories; it was something I naturally gravitated towards. Some people that know me would talk to me about environmental topics, and without realizing it, I become that person. The environment is coming up a lot more in the news and it has almost been easy to escalate this interest because more people want to have those conversations. I was a writer for a bit, and worked in marketing. I also worked in the travel industry because I loved the natural world, but the more I traveled, I realized this industry was contributing to basically destroying the planet with carbon emissions. I was conflicted because I wanted to travel and experience the natural world, but I felt so uncomfortable about the way we were doing it. I thought I needed a change of career, so I did a masters in science communications, and started picking up passion projects; the podcast was one of them.
5) I noticed that you are very involved in a lot of STEM research, particularly biological and climate change research. How did you realize you were interested in that, and would you like to share some of your insight from those projects?
I’ve constantly said yes to different projects and found what I was interested in. That led me to work with the Abisko Climate Change Research Center in Sweden. They gave me an amazing opportunity last summer to go out and spend a couple of months creating content and a podcast. I am not particularly interested in doing research myself, but I really enjoy working with researchers on the communications side. It is important to translate research into a medium that the public can understand, so that it can make an impact. It is tough because when talking about science, science communications is often not thought of as a field of science on its own. However, recently there’s been a shift in science where it is an exciting time to be a science communicator, and it will be a more common sphere in the future.
6) What is some advice you would give to young people out there about the environment?
It is crucial to know that you can make a change, and you are not small. Some of the most important activists in this space are young people. Greta Thunberg made an enormous impact by rallying young people to make their voices known. You are the future and you have a role in making decision makers aware of what you are passionate about. If you are boycotting a company because you do not agree with their environmental practices, tell them WHY you are boycotting. Let them know it’s their environmental principles (or lack of) that are the issue. Speak to them kindly, have an educated discussion with people, and lead by example.
7) For our members out there who are eager to listen to your next podcast, would you be willing to share any topics you are planning to cover? We will encourage our members to listen to them.
We are working on a really fun one about beavers. We are always taking suggestions so if any of you want us to cover a particular topic we are all ears.
Interview by: Anita Osuri