If you’ve walked around Philadelphia, you may have seen colorful posters that say “Get Squid Facts,” with a phone number on them. This street art project is the brainchild of Sarah McAnulty, a squid biologist and the creator of the science education non-profit Skype A Scientist. We get the scoop on her guerrilla art project, which has inspired more than 100,000 people to reach out for a squid fact!
Philly's not known for squid – why are they your passion?
I grew up in Philadelphia and I've loved squid, inexplicably, since I was a little kid. And then I went on in my career to become a squid biologist. I got my PhD working with Hawaiian bobtail squid. They're these little rainbow colored squid that live around Hawaii. I've worked with squid, and cephalopods – so that's squid, octopus, cuttlefish, those types of animals – for like 15 years now.
What's been the response to your project?
It's been really positive, which has been wonderful. Like you mentioned, squid don't live in Philadelphia. So, I think that squid are like a weird, cool creature that people might just wonder, like, "Why the hell are we talking about squid in Philadelphia? Like, what is this about?" We're not selling anything. We're just talking about squid. So I think kind of the confusion-slash-curiosity factor really gets kicked on, and I love that.
What is it about merging science and public art projects that you find works?
I think it's important to really use a wide variety of delivery mechanisms to get scientific information to people, because different avenues are going to hit different groups of people differently. I think that as many scientists as possible should be engaging in science communication in a way that feels right to them, so that in total, as a whole group, we're reaching as many people as possible. I find joy in street art. That's where I'm having a good time, so that's what I like to do to try to connect with people.