#ActuallyLivingScientists brings everyday scientists into the spotlight

For all we value the contributions made by scientists through the ages, many of us can only name a few. Uh, Bill Nye? Marie Curie? As of late, Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson? (The real-life heroines of the film Hidden Figures.)

But scientists of the past are only particularly famous now because their innovations are out in the world. They’ve had time to literally change the ways we live — but there are so many people working right now doing the same thing. It shouldn’t take a lifetime for their work to gain recognition.

The hashtag #ActuallyLivingScientists is trying to change this by spotlighting scientists working in their fields now.

It’s not surprising at all to me that so many of the folks introducing themselves as scientists are women. (Also: See the #DressLikeAWoman hashtag overlaps.) Though science and technology oftentimes seem like a boys’ club, the reality is that there are so many people of all genders, all cultural backgrounds working in those fields.

The movement itself began with wildlife ecologist David Steen, who was frustrated by the fact that most Americans couldn’t name a living scientist. (The hashtag itself was the invention of Mary Roblyer.) Considering the strange Orwellian plight of scientists in our current administration, we’d all do better to recognize the people tackling issues like climate change.

For most of us, science is something we learn about to inform our world. For career scientists, this is their livelihood: The search for answers in a world that seems to defy them.