Franziska Sattler

Vertebrate Paleontologist & Science Communicator, Museum fuer Naturkunde Berlin

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There are always allies out there rooting for you.

What do you do?

My research mainly focuses on the tooth growth and replacement of dinosaurs. Both carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs replaced their teeth in a certain time frame and patter and I find it incredibly interesting to find out more about the differences in the species. Working in a research museum also helps me to communicate my work directly with the public.

I have been very fortunate to work in an environment where scicomm is highly encouraged and valued. The Museum fuer Naturkunde Berlin (Natural History Museum Berlin) has offered me my very own education format. With “Kaffeeklatsch mit Wissenschaft” (Lit. Coffee time with Science) people join in relaxed large groups and can examine a certain topic and ask researchers questions without feeling intimidated. On one hand, the concept combines something many people have known their entire lives: sitting together with your family on Sundays, drinking coffee & tea, eating cake and discussing life, their week and discussions about current events. On the other hand, there is science: which is still an often deterrent term, that even today still seems unclear to visitors (“What do scientists actually do all day?”). By combining these two terms, I want to take away the fear of visitors who might otherwise “just come to look around”, and are too shy to actively ask questions or chat along.

Besides that, I organize Pint of Science Germany and Soapbox Science in Berlin together with an awesome team. I have found that many people already join these projects with a lot of knowledge of their own and I always finish each session having learned something myself.

Why did you choose this field?

I believe that one of the main quality criteria of good science is the engagement of everybody, including the public, and the investigation of methods with which we can integrate the biggest possible diversity of views and perspectives. I love science communication for exactly that reason. Educating the public on scientific subjects and results leads to a better informed society and raises awareness and interest for research. This way we also encourage the next generation to consider science as a career path.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Because of my experience with field work in the US, I was chosen to join a team of researcher to work on a new specimen on Tyrannosaurus rex. It was a dream come true. We got a lot of media attention and I ended up being part of a documentary that followed our research and work in the field. Seeing myself doing what I love on TV and on front pages of newspapers was amazing.

Why do you love working in STEM?

My most favorite part of working in science is how collaborative it is! I get to work with a fantastic selection of people, all with different scientific backgrounds, that enrich my research and give me the opportunity to learn from more experienced scientists.
I've always wanted to become a paleontologist, ever since I was a young girl and my parents frequently took me to the natural history museum in my city. I still visit museums whenever I travel to a new place and love to see how they set up their exhibitions. Science communication has become a growing passion of mine and I now even get to do it professionally, which brings me a lot of joy.

Best advice for next generation?

Don't be intimidated being one of very few women in a male dominated field. It can feel lonely, but I found that there are always allies out there rooting for you.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“Science knows it doesn't know everything; otherwise, it'd stop. But just because science doesn't know everything doesn't mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you.” ― Dara O'Briain

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