This interview is with Sofia, The Biologist Apprentice. She is extremely passionate about Biology and is someone who works very hard. The purpose of The Biologist Apprentice blog is to encourage students and society to be more conscious about our natural environment and to create awareness in how to protect nature.
Sofia, how would you describe yourself in a few words?
‘To be honest I usually don’t like to describe myself, but I am very passionate for my work, I always put my best effort in everything I do and I try to accomplish my goals with hard work.
You are a biologist. When did you know ‘I’m gonna be a biologist’ and why?
‘My father is an ecologist, so I grew up with an embedded education for nature and animals. Since I was very little I was always very curious to understand how nature works. I remember spending hours looking at my father’s text books, even if I didn´t understand yet what the terms meant, I was fascinated with the images. To study Biology just came as a natural choice for me.’
‘The Biologist Apprentice’ is pretty known on social media. With more than 10 000 likes on Facebook, it’s safe to say that ‘The Biologist Apprentice’ matters. How did ‘The Biologist Apprentice’ story start? What is ‘The Biologist Apprentice’ about?
‘The idea for the blog began around 2012, the main reason behind this idea was that I noticed how many people related very little to a field like Biology, and in general science fields, mainly because I think it’s full of technical terms that are hard to understand. So this inspired me, and I thought it could be a good opportunity to start a platform that could deliver information in a much more dynamic way, to make it fun for people to become interested in the topic. That is the purpose of the blog; to display useful information and tips to encourage students and society to become more conscious about our natural environment and also to create awareness in how to protect nature and animals.
So basically that’s how it all started, it was actually published in Spanish at first since it’s my first language, at that time I was not thinking many people would follow, it was more personal, but then I noticed that people from all over the world were following, so I started to publish in English too.’
Could you tell a bit more about the logo?
‘The logo was designed by my sister. The concept references the nature in the world, and nature is a very important aspect for our world to subsist, so we need to understand it more to know how to take care of it better…I told my sister this idea and this was the concept I liked the most.’
How would you describe a day in your life as Biologist?
‘Well, I have just graduated from college so right now I’m the process to define what will be my proximate future, I don’t have an accurate plan yet. In the meantime, I enjoy the blog and my business, and I also started to give talks in schools so for now that keeps me busy.’
Where do you get your inspiration for your blog?
‘Well, a lot of reading, I am always reading as much as I can, any platforms: journals, magazines; National Geographic and “Muy Interesante”, other sites for science publication, artists, etc. From there I select the topics that I find more interesting and then make a summary for the publication. I usually select the topics at the beginning of the week and throughout the days I publish about them. I also enjoy art very much, so I try to find artists that work towards this theme to show their work and links to their sites.’
Photos play a key role in the daily updates of ‘The Biologist Apprentice’. How do you select your pictures?
‘Well, it is a process from reading many platforms and from there selecting the topics that are more interesting to me. When I have a photo of my own I just link it to the topic but usually it’s photos from other authors, I make sure I have the source to acknowledge the work because it’s necessary due to ownership rights. Recently many authors have offered me their photos so I post from them too. I do make sure that the pictures are good quality. I tend to go for very vivid colors, also if you noticed there are a lot of close up pictures, that’s my favorite type.
From my own work I don’t have an specific pick yet, I have been learning professional photography techniques in the past six months, before I was just an amateur; I like my last takes better since they’re taken with more technique, but it’s a process, I’m still exploring my own style, probably the picture of the beetles on the flower one so far is my favorite. I won my first photography contest with that one, you can find it on the website too.’
You also started a small business to support your blog. You basically design hand printed eco-T shirts ‘Wearing Biology’. How did it all start and how did you work it out? The T-shirts are made of your personal drawings and photographs, what is your favorite drawing?
‘How the business began is actually a very funny story. I had the idea to print my own T-shirts for a while, even before the blog started because I wanted to have T-shirts with animal prints that looked realistic. I was frustrated that I never found any prints that I liked plus I didn’t have enough money to afford expensive brands. At this point this was just an idea that I kept procrastinating on; besides my photography work and drawings were just a hobby and it never occurred to me they could be related. But then in my senior year I had to take an entrepreneurship class, and that’s when the bulb finally lighted up! I made a business plan for my class and my project won first place, from there I really saw the opportunity that this could actually be a business. The concept “Wearing Biology” is based on the same concept from the blog, that is to encourage people to learn in a fun way about the topic using the T-shirts to promote information and awareness while wearing it. My favorite drawing is the owl, because it was the first drawing I was able to finish, it took me like five attempts to get it right. It makes me proud.’
How many t-shirts have you sold so far? What happens with the profit you make?
‘A few hundreds, the model that has sold the most is the owl and the tiger. The profit goes to support the blog and support other charities, mainly animal care charities. The t-shirts are hand printed using water based inks.’
Biology is a broad topic. How would you define Biology?
‘Everything that has life, that’s Biology.’
How important is social media in your life?
‘Well, more than important to me, it’s important for the message I want to get across. I strongly believe in the power of social networks for educational purposes because new generations have an interest to learn in a more experiential way, and everyone uses social networks now. So it has become an important tool to spread information and promote my blog.’
Achievement you are most proud of so far?
‘About a week ago I was invited to give a talk to an elementary school, it was the first time I talked to little kids. At the end of the presentation a girl approached me and gave me a hand written letter, she had written that she was so impressed with my talk that she had decided to become a biologist when she grows up –she also wanted me to go play to her house- . And that was a unique moment for me, because that is what I’m after, if I can influence at least someone positively, that is the best achievement, and that is the difference I want to make and devote my time to.’
What would your advice be to people who would like to start their own business based on their passion?
‘Just go for it. Find the people that can help you visualize your idea the best way and writing a business plan is always useful to fulfill your goals on time.’
What inspires you every day?
‘Every aspect of my life really, I am passionate about life in general, my dreams keep me alive, my goals keep me working. I want to make a difference in the best way I can.’
Favorite quote / mantra?
“First and foremost, I urge you to stay on the path you’ve chosen, and to travel on it as far as you can. The world needs you – badly.” – Edward O. Wilson
Your biggest dream?
‘Collaborate at some point with National Geographic or the BBC –nature-.’
Thank you Sofia for this interview. Good luck with everything you do and do chase your dreams!