What Does a Scientist Look Like?

Authored by Alex Pasquale and Audrey Wood; students in Assistant Professor Kate Endenborg’s ENGL 407: Seminar in Applied Journalism class in the professional communications and emerging media program.

Through two very distinct and powerful wardrobe pieces, Dr. Jo Hopp, University of Wisconsin–Stout’s professor of physics and chemistry; hopes to inspire the Science Olympiad participants by sending the message that anyone can be a scientist.

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Professor Jo Hopp working with students in the Oculomotor physics lab

Students work in various CSTEM labs in Jarvis Hall Science Wing Tuesday, December 9, 2014. Pictured are students working with Jo Hopp in the Oculomotor physics lab. (UW-Stout photo by Brett T. Roseman)

Breaking away from the “stereotypical” white lab coat and over-sized spectacles, Dr. Jo Hopp is showcasing the person behind the scientist. Her exuberant personality and powerful femininity will be displayed as she emcees the 2016 Science Olympiad National Tournament held at UW–Stout May 18-21.

Dr. Jo Hopp will be showcasing a powerful message that connects the Aurora Borealis theme to the participants attending the competition.

“We want to show all these kids that you can be anybody and be a powerful scientist,” said Hopp.

One of the ways this message will be portrayed will be through Hopp’s wardrobe.  Hopp has been working closely with UW–Stout apparel design sophomore, Leslie Berlin; freshman, Ali Schachtner; and sophomore, Megan Bartylla; to combine her scientific interests with the celebratory nature of the event.

Alex Schachtner, apparel department lab assistant

“We are going to try and simulate a brain synapse- like the light moving from one point to another,” explained Berlin. “Dr. Hopp is a neuroscientist, so we are incorporating her background into the garment.”

The apparel design team wanted to also encapsulate Hopp’s overall message through the garments.  Hopp said, “I wanted to show both the feminine side of science and the strength of a woman scientist.”

In order to do this, the apparel design team has to take comfort, mobility, breath-ability and the way the clothing interacts with the audience into consideration.  “We’ve done a lot of research on different kinds of fabrics,” explained Bartylla. “A lot of hunting for fabrics that would work and be comfortable for her.” 

The apparel design team has done countless iterations of the garments to try and balance style and comfort. “What they have to think of is the same scientific process I do when I do an experiment,” said Hopp.

Hopp will be the perfect emcee in the event, as she plans to create an exciting introduction for the Science Olympiad National Tournament; diminishing the tension or nerves that some contestants may have going into the challenge.

She will commence the event by emphasizing the fun nature of the competition.“This opening ceremony celebrates [the competitors] and how exciting this is for them to have succeeded in their passion,” explained Hopp.

She emphasized how much of an impact clothing can have on an event, especially one such as the Science Olympiad; of which is extremely audience driven.


While Hopp’s opening ceremony outfit will be interacting with the audience in a celebratory manner, Hopp hopes to convey a different message in her closing ceremony outfit.  The closing ceremony will have a red carpet feel, acknowledging the hard work that the students put into the competition.  “You deserve to be honored in this very formal way because it is a very prestigious achievement,” she said.

Hopp and the apparel design team’s talents, coupled with the Aurora Borealis theme, will clearly show the message that anyone can be a scientist.Take2 lower banner


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