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Science Apparel With Mollie

The Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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Click here for Mollie’s profile.

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Mollie loves giraffes!

As you might imagine from images of cheerleaders in popular culture (e.g., the Taylor Swift song “You Belong with Me,” which makes it quite clear that being “cheer captain” and “wear[ing] t-shirts” are incompatible pursuits), it often comes to pass that I must figure out how to make geek chic, or else lose both my science cred and my cheerleader cred.

I have collected a few shirts that do the trick when one is trying to look stylish and nerdy simultaneously. A few are from commercial sites, especially Threadless .

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You’re styling, dude!

(In addition to liking knitting and cheerleading, I really like giraffes. They have super-long necks, but the same number of neck vertebrae as you and me. I think that is totally cool.)

This one reminds me to give my mice an extra scratch on the nose or an extra mouse treat. (Did you know that mice apparently love things that are bacon-flavored? Where do mice eat bacon in the wild? They also love Nutella, which seems thousands of times more logical to me.)

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Science can by stylish

You can’t go wrong with an XKCD shirt. One of our lab’s former technicians used to wear this one on days when he was doing particularly challenging experiments.

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Pin the transcription factor….

Of course, sometimes you have to come up with your own shirt design. My collaborator Luciano and I designed shirts with the name of the gene we’re studying, and put a big picture of the gene’s expression pattern on the back and our initials on the sleeves. Here we’re celebrating Luciano’s successful completion of his Ph.D. qualifying exam, and we’re both wearing our shirts (his is under his nice collared shirt) while playing a game of “Pin the Transcription Factor on the Projection Neuron,” which is like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, but with more hilarity.

Luciano himself is doing fairly well in the science couture category, as he has his team t-shirt, as well as a Merino/cashmere handknit cardigan that I made for him. When he was deciding whether to join the lab last summer, I was desperately trying to bribe him with anything I could come up with, and I offered him a sweater in a pattern of his choice if he joined. He did join, so, true to my word, I spent most of the winter plugging along on a man-sized cardigan for him.

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Luciano’s suave sweater!

And, of course, I knit science stuff for myself, too — I made a scarf with a DNA cable last winter, and I’m going to knit a pair of socks with a neuron on them while I listen to lectures at this year’s Society for Neuroscience conference .

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.