Earyn McGee, a herpetologist, has grown famous as the lizard lady on her Twitter page. Her mingling with desert reptiles has elevated her to an advanced level of lizard study only at the age of 26.
Young Scientist Shining
McGee has shot to fame on social media with #FindThatLizard, a weekly online game that she launched in 2018. Every Wednesday she posts a picture of a desert landscape where participants have to look for the camouflaged lizards.
McGee’s goals are to make science more fun for people of all ages and make her field of study more accessible to people of color. Her unique work has won her a place on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List of North American scientists in 2021.
The Afro_Herper, as she is called online, aspires to create her own nature show. She wants to make it inspiring and adventurous for science geeks. Yet as a little girl, she had never imagined herself in such a situation while watching Animal Planet or Discovery Channel.
A Nature Lover’s Story
Born in Atlanta and brought up in Los Angeles, McGee’s parents had always supported her interest in animals and creepy-crawlies. She had enrolled at Howard University with environmental biology as her subject.
McGee spent her summers hooked on capturing and observing Sky Island reptiles of the Chiricahua Mountains in Southern Arizona. Presently she is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arizona and formerly was a reporting fellow at the Review Journal.
Hey! I’m Earyn, a PhD student studying 🦎 & their diets! I started #FindThatLizard to share my passion with others & show the world that Black women exist in the wildlife field. I’m building a YouTube channel to share even more! Please subscribe (https://t.co/cn5DzFZj8W)!🦎💜 pic.twitter.com/DmAqnfABBF
— Earyn McGee, Lizard lassoer, MSc🦎 (@Afro_Herper) March 18, 2020
McGee uses her social media popularity to enlighten people about lizards. Another objective is to redefine common perceptions about how scientists work. The dissertation of her doctorate program focuses on lizard diets and the climate change effect on these reptiles. She is also studying the challenges a black woman has to face to pursue a natural sciences career.
An event had spiraled from a case of police brutality on a black bird watcher. This prompted McGee to help create the Black Birders Week, an online celebration of black nature lovers. Black scientists in botany, astronomy, chemistry, and neurology were brought to the limelight in similar events.
A Bright Future
McGee has been named as an IF/THEN ambassador by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This honor is given to 125 exceptional innovators across the US. It upholds women pioneering in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Earyn McGee looks forward to a life entangled with a conservation group or a wildlife agency. She seeks to find such a job to sustain herself while continuing her research on lizard diets and desert ecosystems.