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Physics Girl to give keynote presentation for SURF's Neutrino Day

The interview posted above is from SDPB's daily public affairs show, In the Moment, with Lori Walsh.

YouTube star Dianna Cowern, also known as “Physics Girl,” is the keynote speaker for the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s Neutrino Day, a celebration of the research being done at SURF.

The science festival will be held all day Saturday in Lead, and visitors can learn about neutrinos, which are almost massless, neutrally charged particles studied at SURF, along with geothermal energy, dark matter and more.

Cowern earned her place among other speakers for the event through her research on dark matter as an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her passion for talking about and teaching others about physics.

“I wanted to find a way to spark that wonder and curiosity in people that might not otherwise be interested in physics,” she said.

Cowern, who is originally from Hawaii, found a love for physics in high school and began realizing she could answer her own questions about the world through the science.

She also gained experience in communication through classes at MIT that specialized in teaching scientists and students how to better communicate their research to those without science backgrounds.

Cowern later began her YouTube channel as a hobby and a way to advance her career in 2011, but the videos soon took off in popularity.

“Little by little, the videos got incrementally better until the channel just grew,” she said, “but I didn’t think this is what I would end up doing.”

Now, Cowern creates one to two videos a month about visiting interesting locations involving physics, explaining different phenomenon like magnetism and space, and even brief lessons for physics students.

Though Cowern’s channel is meant for anyone, she says teachers have begun using her videos to introduce topics in their classes.

She also occasionally works with different scientists to highlight their research.

“I think there are not that many people who come into a physics lab or a research lab and are like, ‘I want to know exactly what you do, and I want to share it with the world,’” she said. “That's kind of a weird thing, and it’s exciting.”

Cowern will speak at 4 p.m. Mountain time Saturday in the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead.

Jordan is a senior English and journalism major at SDSU in Brookings. She is from De Smet, South Dakota. She is based out of the Sioux Falls studio.