Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant
Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant Aims To Increase Diversity In STEM Through Season 2 Of The PBS Podcast Going Wild
Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant spent her childhood fascinated by watching nature shows on television. One thing she noticed while watching, is that the hosts of these shows never quite looked like her. This inspired Dr. Rae to be the change in the industry that she wanted to see.
Today, you can find Dr. Rae breaking glass ceilings and amplifying other scientists of color on the chart-topping PBS podcast Going Wild. The wildlife ecologist is the host of the podcast, which is now in its second season. Through dynamic conversations, Dr. Rae aims to aid in increasing diversity in the STEM field.
Going Wild is produced by Nature on PBS and takes listeners on an auditory adventure through the worlds of endangered animals and the wildlife conservationists who are working hard to protect them. Its second season premiered on September 27th, 2022.
We caught up with Dr. Rae on her career path, how to get into STEM, and her exciting travel adventures.
TN: What are you most excited about for season 2 of Going Wild?
Dr. RWG: I can’t wait to introduce the listener community to the dope scientists that I call colleagues and friends. We have a whole lineup of amazing Black wildlife scientists and most of whom are the only or one of the only Black people in their fields. They study everything from lizards to hyenas and they have incredible stories.
TN: How did you get into your career as a wildlife ecologist?
Dr. RWG: I quite literally got inspired to pursue this career through watching TV. When I was a kid, I didn’t have much access to TV, and my parents required my brother and me to watch “educational” TV only. So nature shows rose to the top very quickly, and before I knew it, I was telling everyone that I wanted to be a nature show host. They were the only people I knew who got to spend time studying wild animals in the wilderness.
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Fast forward to college, when I realized that there is a SCIENCE to what those nature show hosts were doing, and becoming a wildlife ecologist could both get me those experiences and also help me be more purposeful with the work by allowing me to find solutions to wildlife extinction.
TN: What can listeners expect from this season?
Dr. RWG: Honestly, every surprise you could imagine. Nobody has heard wildlife adventure stories like the ones we’re bringing — and at the same time, the personal stories that are intertwined and very relatable. We talk about lizard toes and lynchings in the same episode; coyote births and gun violence, and the list goes on!
TN: What advice do you have for women of color wanting to start a career in STEM?
Dr. RWG: Make sure to make it clear what you ultimately want from the beginning. Once I started telling my professors, mentors, and higher-ups that I wanted to be a leader in carnivore ecology, or I want to double as a scientist and a science communicator, things really changed for me.
I went from being seen as a student, to someone who can articulate their ultimate goal, and then I started getting WAY more help along the way.
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As a Black woman, I had been socialized to just be happy to be where I was, and not to pipe up about where I wanted to go. And that is not how success works!
TN: What are your top 3 destinations around the world to experience nature, wildlife, and adventure?
Dr. RWG: There are so many, but all of my deepest, richest nature experiences have been either in the savannahs of East Africa (southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, to be specific) or closer to my own backyard along the central coast of California.
Many people don’t know that California is one of the most biodiverse states with some of the rarest wildlife in the country! And East African wildlife is unmatched. It’s a place of magic.
You can tune in to season 2 of Going Wild here.
Keep up with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant on Instagram here.