Dana Scully with "X" in bold

Biologist Jessica Ware on X-Files' Dana Scully as Inspiration

On the 25th anniversary of The X-Files' premiere, Jessica Ware writes for The Conversation on how the character of Dr. Dana Scully inspired her to pursue entomology.

Insects were not what my girlfriends wanted to study, until we ‘met’ Dana Scully

Insects, those creepy, crawly residents of nature’s demi-monde, were not what the girls in my high school class wanted to study at university. I wasn’t sure I wanted to either. But I knew that invertebrates were the only thing that fascinated me about Dr. Lang’s grade 12 biology class.

Here was someone with the same innate curiosity I had about the natural world, successfully navigating the politics of her science career, side-stepping sexism and changing the face of science.

When I arrived at the University of British Columbia, where I enrolled to study marine biology, I settled into dorm life with about 100 other women who had come to UBC to study art and sciences. I had great professors for my introductory science classes, most of whom were gray-haired, white men, who spent class time spewing inorganic chemistry formulas to lecture halls packed with more than 100 freshman students. Dorm life revolved around bland meals at the cafeteria, group venting sessions about various classes and coursework, and “must-see TV” in the common room Thursdays and Fridays.

It was through my dorm sisters that I was introduced to “The X-Files,” starring a brilliant, pragmatic female scientist, Dr. Dana Scully. For the first time, huddled around the small common room TV in the dark (for ambiance my roommate insisted), I saw someone on screen who was not only unfazed by insects and dissections, she was fascinated by them. Here was someone with the same innate curiosity I had about the natural world, successfully navigating the politics of her science career, side-stepping sexism and changing the face of science.

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