Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sophia’s Starry Style

Sophia Nasr is an astroparticle physicist with a flare for fashion and a steadily growing social media presence, largely due to her passion for the cosmos and her outspoken voice against inequality. We got together to talk about many things – both in and out of this world.
Sophia Nasr: This is a custom print dress from Shenova Fashion. They do a lot of science-themed dresses like Saturn and space-time warp prints. My dress is from the Millennium Simulation of the dark matter cosmic web. I got it when I graduated from my undergrad and wore it to my convocation. I’m now doing my PhD in dark matter at the University of California, Irvine.

TorontoVerve: As a child, what was the spark that got you interested in the universe?

SN: My mom used to take me out to see meteor showers. That really got me interested in the cosmos and black holes. I wondered if there was life beyond Earth. Dark matter was always a curiosity of mine. But it wasn’t always a straightforward path because I was living in my dad’s dream of becoming a medical doctor. But I inevitably found my true passion in university.
TV: Men dominate the faculty of physics and astronomy, but we’re seeing more women entering the field. What are some of the challenges that women face in the industry?

SN: It is dominated by men. At York [University], there was one female faculty member who taught a physics course. They were all great teachers, but sometimes you want to have a diverse set of role models. You want to be able to see people of colour and not just white men. I have nothing bad to say about York. It is a wonderful school and the people are great. But in terms of diversity, like most places, it needs work. The problem that women face in general is sexual harassment. There’s this thing called the “Whisper Net” where people share their stories about harassment among faculty members. They’ll tell you who to avoid, and that’s sad. If it’s commonly known that these faculty members are being inappropriate with students, then they should be removed. But they’re not – because of their status. It’s a tough world for women in physics.

TV: You once tweeted, "The more I discuss white privilege with white women, the more I see how difficult this matter is for People of Colour…”.

SN: Yes. When you discuss white privilege, the first people who deny it are white people. “How do I have white privilege if I’m poor?” It’s a systemic problem and you can’t solve it until white people acknowledge it. I hate when people say, “Well, colour doesn’t matter. I’m colour blind.” If it doesn’t matter, we wouldn’t be having these problems. 

TV: Well, it’s safer to say that colour doesn’t matter because then you don’t have to have those tough conversations about white privilege.

SN: Exactly. Talking about race is an inconvenience to many white people because it forces them to admit that there is a problem. 

TV: To resolve the shortage of women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) industry, what advice do you have for parents to encourage their daughters to pursue these fields?

SN: Parents should take their daughters to the Science Centre. Get them excited for sciences. Don’t girly them. Tell them they can accomplish whatever they want. When I was a kid, I was good at math. But in middle school, I didn’t want to be good because it wasn’t considered cool. None of my friends were good at math. But my parents always encouraged me. Thankfully, girls today have many role models to look up to, like astro physicist Katie Mack and Space Gal, Emily Calandrelli. 

TV: Did you ever feel that you had to dumb yourself down to make friends?

SN: Yeah. I remember we had to do the times table, 1-12. And I was nearly done and my friend next to me still had a long way to go. I slowed down because I didn’t want to be the weird one who finished first.
TV: What are some misconceptions that people have about science people?

SN: People tend to think what we’re introverted, we all wear glasses and we don’t get out much. But we’re super diverse. Look at me. I’m not the only physicist who has purple hair. We’re into fashion and we love to socialize. I tend to get a lot of, “Really? You’re in physics? I didn’t take you to be a physicist.” Well, what do you expect a physicist to look like?

TV: So you’re doing your PhD at the University of California, Irvine. What’s it like living in Orange County, California?

SN: It’s great. The weather is beautiful and I feel much better there. And there’s a diverse crowd. My brother is an actor in California so I actually get to hang out with both actors and space people. I also plan on getting into the entertainment industry with my science outreach like my role model, Neil deGrasse Tyson. 

TV: Will you be looking for a guest spot on the Big Bang Theory? [laughs]

SN: [laughs] No. I actually want to do real science.


Follow Sophia on Instagram, Twitter and her website.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


My style is a clusterf@%# of vintage pieces. It's simple 90's mixed in with classic Calvin Klein and a dash of high fashion. I'm inspired by people who wear their clothes like they're wearing their soul on their body.

Follow Rachel AKA Blair Ryder on Instagram and Twitter.

Monday, June 11, 2018


Lex: I studied fashion and discovered that style is too personal to understand. I design gender and non-conforming clothing. I did a couple of shows and love exploring that dynamic. When I was a kid, I was never really considered feminine. I just conformed to whatever I wanted to portray. Fashion was an outlet for me and exploring what that would look like in real life.

TorontoVerve: I interrupted you while you were doing some hoop action. What's that all about?

Lex: It's a meditative practice. It's a way of expressing myself through movement. I'm quite uncomfortable in a lot of situations and movement helps me get over it. I do hoops in public and that gives me the confidence to do any daily task.

Follow Lex on Instagram.