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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis alumna finds YouTube fame

Published: November 2, 2012
Section: Features

Alex Dainis ’11 has found a way to merge her passions in a way that is making her YouTube famous. During her time at Brandeis, Dainis juggled multiple majors and various activities. Graduating with majors in biology and film, television and media, Dainis used her skills to create her own YouTube channel. The channel, called “Bit Sci-zed,” teaches science. Supported by the YouTube Next EDU Guru Program, the YouTube channel has taken off, educating people worldwide about the wonders of science.

While at Brandeis, Dainis describes that she originally intended to graduate with a biochemistry degree, but when her majors transformed she “couldn’t be happier with that.” Involved in many clubs, such as the Swing Dancing Troupe and the Catholic Student Organization, Dainis had an active presence on campus. She also fondly recalls her time spent in two different labs, Paul Garrity’s lab and as a teaching assistant for Dr. Kosinski- Collin’s biology lab. “I loved both labs,” Dainis said. “The Garrity lab taught me how to be a scientist and the bio Lab taught me how to communicate science.”

Upon graduating, Dainis admits she was on the lookout for media jobs. “I knew I wanted to go on to grad school for genetics … but I wanted some time to work on film for a while before returning to science.” To feed her interest in media, Dainis started the “Bite Sci-zed” YouTube series. “Bite Sci-zed started because I love talking about science,” she said.

She claims science makes the world a more interesting place, given that it surrounds our daily lives. She believes science is in everything, “from the chemistry of our food to the anatomy of our bodies.” In posting “Bite Sci-zed” on YouTube, Dainis hoped to share her love of science by helping others appreciate it while learning about it. In describing her process on creating videos, Dainis explains, “Bite Sci-zed takes the science that I think is interesting and transforms it into easily digestible videos that anyone can watch, regardless of their scientific background. I cover topics relevant to daily life, form the science behind brain freezes to why we sneeze.”

Dainis believes there are definitely advantages to teaching through the mode of YouTube. “Teaching through YouTube lets me reach so many more people than I’d be able to otherwise,” she said. She describes how it is normal that she would have scientific conversations with her friends and family, but the only way many other people would be able to share in this scientific enlightenment is through an online mode. “YouTube lets me create my own classroom. It gives me the freedom to teach whatever I want, whenever I want,” Dainis added.

The YouTube Next EDU Program, which chose Dainis and her videos, is a program that looks for 10 up-and-coming educational channels that are then brought to YouTube headquarters for their education summit. Dainis was flown out to California and describes how she met “some of the top YouTube educational content creators, like VSauce, MinutePhysics, SciShow, and Veritasium, as well as organizations like PBS and the Khan Academy who do amazing work in education already.” YouTube offered support to Dainis, giving advice on ways to improve her channel in order to reach a greater number of people. Dainis describes the experience as “invaluable.”

“The opportunity to talk with these people, to see their creativity and to share in their ideas … I was honored that YouTube saw what I was doing and wanted to support it,” she said.

While Dainis is certainly succeeding in her YouTube ventures, she admits that she does have other future plans. “I’m currently working at a museum media company, but I am joining the Stanford Genetics department to pursue my Ph.D. in the fall of 2013.” While she is going on to continue her study of science, Dainis admits that she does not want to stray far from the idea of teaching science.

“Long term, I want to continue to be a public science educator, ideally through film,” she said. “I’m in love with science and think it’s something everyone should know a little more about!”