Its insights into the use of social media to promote entomology is just one reason a new scientific paper is making headlines. The other is that its co-author is an 8-year-old girl. Sophia Spencer of Canada has long loved creepy-crawlies, especially carrying them around on her shoulder, but her venture into the formal study of insects only began last year. That's when Sophia’s mom sent a letter to the Entomological Society of Canada sharing how Sophia was bullied for her love of bugs and requesting answers to her many questions about how to turn that love into a career, reports NPR. Morgan Jackson, an entomologist who runs the society's social media accounts, shared the letter on Twitter and was stunned when more than a thousand responses poured in.
"I've been that girl, became an entomologist & still proudly wear bugs on my shoulder," read one response, which included a photo proving it to be true, highlighted by the Toronto Star. The outpouring of support gave Jackson an idea. He decided to research how social media can promote women in entomology and asked Sophia to explain her experience, per Quartz. Sophia—who now throws out words like "stridulating"—hopes her byline on the most popular paper ever published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America will be the first of many to come. "I see myself growing up to become an entomologist," she says. "It was cool to see other girls and grown-ups studying bugs. It made me feel like I could do it, too." (Read one female scientist's incredible tale of how adultery and a burglary could have derailed a brilliant career.)