An MIT Alumni Association Publication

Alumna Brings Serious Science to YouTube Series

  • Nicole Morell
  • 5

Filed Under

Ceri Riley ’16 wasn’t sure that the non-traditional career path she hoped for after MIT was the right choice. “For a long time I was afraid that if I didn’t graduate MIT and become an engineer or a scientist that I wasn’t making something of myself,” she remembers. Now an editor the for popular YouTube series SciShow—a spate of science explainer videos with nearly four million subscribers—Riley is confident she made the right choice. “It’s like a dream,” she says.

Riley majored in Biology and Comparative Media Studies / Writing (CMS) at MIT and participated in programs like MIT+K12 Videos, an outreach program where students can write, host, and produce educational videos. Riley worked on these videos in her spare time but never imagined it was something she could pursue as a full time job. That changed with some help from social media.

“I always followed SciShow because I was making educational videos and really respected what they did,” she says. “And one day I just saw it pop up on Twitter that they were looking for an editor.” Riley was hired after submitting writing and video she had created while at MIT. She credits her CMS professors for pushing her to explore the opportunity.

“They always encouraged me to pursue communicating science, explaining how important it was,” she says. Riley worked part time for the show during her senior year then moved to Montana after graduation to work for SciShow full time. “MIT pushed me to change and grow and I think this move was a similar thing,” she says.

Riley spends her days with SciShow reading scripts for episodes, fact checking, and working to become an expert in random topics, like bitcoin, antimatter, and the microbiome. “MIT taught me how to read papers and do rigorous research to really understand something that I don’t have a background in,” she says. “Like having to take (courses) 8.01 and 8.02 with no background in physics, I learned that with a little persistence and a lot of creative Googling, I can figure this out.”

SciShow releases several new episodes each week that can touch on weird news or the latest science research, and Riley strives to make science behind each episode relatable and easy to understand. “We’ve had shows on what dinosaurs tasted like and the history of the internet. You have to explain that in a way that isn’t overwhelming,” she says.

And while Riley and the SciShow editors work on scripts to create episodes can be enjoyed by kids and adults, she’s also working on a game show-style podcast, Holy F------ Science, designed to get adults excited about science.

Learn more about SciShow then watch video on the show’s YouTube page.


Filed Under


Terence Clark

Fri, 05/12/2017 11:59am

I've been a consumer of science content since the heyday of the Discovery Channel way back when. SciShow was one of the first YouTube channels I watched almost from the beginning and have continued to watch every episode of. Ceri Riley's contribution to the show may not always be apparent, as a largely behind the scenes person. But in a science program like SciShow, generating current, accurate content in an engaging fashion is critical to a science outlet's credibility and success. And for science enthusiasts like myself it's certainly noticed and appreciated.

Tim Chambers

Sat, 03/11/2017 8:15pm

I was watching PBS Space Time this afternoon, grateful for the foundation MIT gave me for lifelong learning. Now I have another show to subscribe to. Added the episode to my watch later list from my phone!

Hajime Sano

Fri, 02/10/2017 5:09pm

Awesome! There are a lot of alums who pursue non-traditional (for MIT) careers. They usually have a strong impact in their fields, bringing a fresh approach and lots of energiy and ideas. And don't be surprised if you have more than one non-MIT traditional career in your life time.

Alan Friot

Fri, 02/10/2017 11:45am

It sounds like you may be able to help me. "Alan.s Discovery" has been on you tube for almost 20 years but it's not getting out there to the public. I have no idea how to accomplish that. If there is a cost please let me know. You can use to let me know.

Reid Sheftall MD

Fri, 02/10/2017 11:30am

What an adorable girl! A fine reflection on MIT!