MsChif at NOVA

What do PBS's premier science program and the ChickFight women's wrestling tournament have in common? Before last week, probably very little. But on Friday, a green-haired goth wrestler named MsChif swept into our production studio to be interviewed for NOVA's Web series "The Secret Life of Scientists."

In my 20 years at NOVA, I've met many interesting scientists--intrepid oceanographers, Nobel prize-winning physicists, my childhood idols Jane Goodall and Carl Sagan. Never, though, had I encountered a professional wrestler / microbiologist like Rachel, whose ring name "MsChif" only hints at the stunts she pulls during matches. (In one infamous brawl with a 270-pound wrestler known as "Amazing Kong," MsChif disqualified herself by spitting an "illegal" green mist at her nemesis.)


I must say that the violence in MsChif's brand of wrestling, no matter how theatrical, is not exactly my cup of tea. Still, I was charmed when Rachel sweetly explained to my ten-year-old daughter Sophie (whom I brought to the shoot) that her science, which involves testing antibiotics, helps doctors to find the right kinds of medicines to get people healthy. And I smiled when Rachel said she never felt intimidated about pursuing science and math, as so many girls do.

Ultimately, what I like about Rachel's alter-ego is that she shows--in an overt, over-the-top way--that scientists indeed have other pastimes and passions. They are artists, jugglers, extreme athletes, culinary adventurers, and knitting enthusiasts. One of them is even a fierce, green-mist-spewing professional wrestler.

Showing an unexpected side of science, I think, is part of the appeal of this series. It also may be one of the reasons why "Secret Life" has just been honored with a Streamy Award as the Best Reality or Documentary Web Series of 2010.

When the second season of "Secret Life" premieres next fall, you can meet not only MsChif but 15 other intriguing people, including an MIT string theorist who pilots gliders, a neuroscientist/cheerleader, and a psycholinguist/speed demon. And if you have ideas about other scientists and engineers who would make good "secret lifers," please let us know.

 The award-winning "Secret Life" production team--Associate Producer Laura Wilcox, Producer Tom Miller, and series Exec Producer Josh Seftel--strike a pose with MsChif.

Publicist Note: The web-only series "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" highlights science and engineering stars in a selection of three to six short, punchy films. Each person describes his or her passions both within and outside of science. The second season premieres September 2010. 

User Comments:

I'm glad MsChif is featured in this documentary. She's an awesome wrestler and a scientist. She's like a modern super hero.

MsChif rocks! Can't wait to see the airing of this segment!

I've known Rachel for some time. What a well rounded, down to earth, kind, and caring person she is. I think her alter-ego is really fun. You go, Girl!

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