- TitleScience communicator
- CompanyRaven the Science Maven
Raven Baxter grew up loving science. She went to space camp and studied molecular biology in college and graduate school. Not until she entered the workforce, doing project work for pharmaceutical companies at a contract research organization, for a long time the only Black person at her office, did she feel the spirit-crushing sense from those around her: You don’t belong here. She left that job and dedicated herself to STEM education, developing a next generation of talent that looked more like her and the rest of the country.
But Baxter, who is currently getting a Ph.D. in science education, couldn’t shake the sense that she had put herself in a box to conform to what science expected of her. That led Baxter, who is a trained pianist and a self-taught sound engineer, to make and post a rap video—“Big Ole Geeks”—to challenge the notion of who could wear a lab coat. The video was provocative and she was worried about blowback, but the response was overwhelming and gratifying. She has since produced an album’s worth of science education rap videos—one, a COVID-19 primer called “Wipe It Down,” went viral—and launched a web series, The STEMbassy, featuring scientists of varying genders, races, and disciplines, under her stage name Raven the Science Maven. The work has been noticed: Baxter now has a deal to write a children’s book and another to create a science education television show with a major network. She says she has also fielded at least one request from a major biotech to serve as its science communicator and education specialist.