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Transcript: Space4U podcast, Erin Macdonald

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

Hello. I am Colleen Kiernan with the Space Foundation. And you’re listening to the Space4U podcast. Space4U is designed to tell the stories of the amazing people who make today’s space exploration possible. Today. We are joined by Erin Macdonald. Dr. Erin Macdonald is an astrophysicist, writing consultant, voice actor, and host of the online series Dr. Erin Explains the Universe.

 

Her astrophysics background is in general relativity. Having previously worked in the Lego scientific collaboration, searching for gravitational waves upon leaving academia. She began to study acting. Going back to her roots on the stage, she began teaching science through popular culture and can be found at many sci-fi conventions around the United States.

 

Through these, she met many new friends in the entertainment industry and moved to Los Angeles in 2017 to pursue her passion for this industry. She currently works as a science consultant for the Star Trek franchise among other projects, as a voice actor and a speaker. Thank you so much for joining us today, Erin.

 

Yeah. Thank you for having me. I’m really excited to be here. Absolutely. And I was just saying before we started here, I’m super excited to have you on today because obviously you have a lot of ties to pop culture and I always find that super intriguing. And that’s actually the first question I have for you this morning because you know, we have guests on all the time and we ask a lot.

 

What inspired them to actually get into the space industry. And the number one answer we get has to do something with pop culture. So why do you think that is. It’s really interesting. And I think it’s true. I mean, anecdotally in my experience as well, most of my friends from the industry were also motivated by pop culture.

 

And, you know, I think when we’re kids, we’re so inspired by, I mean, it really comes down to like, space and dinosaurs, you can get any, you know, seven, eight-year-old to talk about space and dinosaurs forever. And, and so when you want to learn more, a lot of people don’t have access, you know, to the space industry space industry is not as big as people sometimes think that it is, but popular culture offers you that insight, having science fiction, movies, TV shows any of that.

 

And there’s, you know, it’s such a broad genre and category. That if kids you know, want to just passionately learn more about space, pop culture is a really kind of direct line to that. And so that’s where I think that inspiration continues and continues to drive people through those ages where they would be more likely to drop out of that field otherwise.

 

So with that said, I have to ask what inspired you to get into the space industry? Well, quite similarly, I, to have my own origin story with pop culture for me though, it was the X-Files just hands down. No question, because I was a little redhead girl when the X-Files was on TV and before even.

 

You know, I was kind of too young to watch it, to be honest when it first started, but you know, all the ads showed this red headed woman in a killer pantsuit, like dawning, a lab coat and fighting aliens with science. So I was just, I saw her and said, you know, that’s who I want to be. And did everything I could to watch it and loved it, loved it.

 

Uh, similarly kind of along that timeline, maybe a couple years later, the film contact came out and contact was also incredibly inspiring for me. You know, Dr. Ellie Arroway is just, she was just cool. And she was a scientist and she, likewise got to use science to find aliens. And so there’s a bit of an alien theme in my background, but it was really powerful.

 

And, and even then I had Dana Scully, Dana Scully really did genuinely drive me to pursue my career. But even when I was in grad school and struggling and kind of wanting to give up and wondering if I really could do this, I turned to Star Trek, which I had discovered as an undergrad and Captain Janeway and Star Trek.

 

Voyager was just inspiring to me, even as, you know, a younger adult, I. Just saw her like a mentor that I didn’t have in my industry. So I, I will always say fictional characters count as mentors, representation in media is so important for that. And yeah, so that’s, that’s my pop culture, origin story. Well, and I think you said something really interesting in there that.

 

You know, you’re a red head and Scully was a red head. And, you know, that’s one of the things that the space industry in the past has, you know, not been the best about. It’s been a lot of white males who are engineers, and we’re starting to see kind of those tides turning. And we’re going to talk a little bit more later about a description you have for yourself.

 

But I know in a lot of ways, you know, you don’t fit into a stereotypical box of what, you know, people may imagine in the space industry and having people that look like you can be really inspiring as a kid of, hey, they can do it. I can do it too. So I think that’s great that, you know, I think for me, at least that’s I pretty much any TV show or movie.

 

I always say, oh, I’m that person, I’m that character. And I think a lot of people do that and it can be really inspiring. And sometimes that can be as close to real life as anything for us if we get super involved in it. Yeah, absolutely. So I think that’s super great. Now, you just mentioned that you discovered Star Trek in your undergrad.

 

So you are currently working with the Star Trek franchise as a science consultant, which I think sounds like the coolest job ever. Can you tell us a little bit about what that entails? It is the coolest job ever. It takes a lot for me to like, not be walking down the street and Star Trek. Year and have someone be like, oh, I like Star Trek.

 

And for me to scream in their face, I worked for Star Trek because I love it. And it’s just such a long-standing franchise with such a legacy. And even though I came to it a little bit later in life, I didn’t grow up with it at all, but it was my first sort of introduction to that. Fandom community. Yeah, I had always existed.

 

I existed in many live journal, like groups that were very intense fans, but it was always this online, early, you know, web fandom community. And Star Trek was kind of the first time that I had experienced that fandom with other people around me. And, um, and it just felt like a family. And so I’m so grateful, you know, my path was a little all over the place to get to this job, just in the sense that it required a lot of science communication.

 

It requires an understanding of the entertainment industry and the creative process and respect for that as well. But essentially the way that this kind of bore out was, you know, Star Trek is experiencing a resurgence right now, thankfully, because it’s awesome.

 

And it will always be around, but they’ve commissioned so many shows. I think there’s six shows in development right now, all at various stages, all for different age groups, all with very different feels to them, but they wanted someone who could be a through voice for all of the technology. Kind of trying to standardize some of the things that we’re putting around, you know, you don’t want one show explaining in great detail, for example, like how transporters work and then another show explaining in great detail how transporters work totally differently.

 

So that’s kind of what my role is. And I’ve been lucky enough. Just kind of started out with one show and then it’s just grown. And now it’s for the whole franchise and shows can use me or not as much as they want, but some of them, you know, have had me in the writer’s room. Some have had me involved in the development process.

 

I’ll go to a writer’s room and we will just sit there and they’ll pick my brain and we’ll break story. And for me, I’ve been able to learn so much about the writing process and it’s been a crash course in the entertainment industry, because most people, when they start out in the, you know, as writers in that area, you’ll maybe work for one room at a time, and now I’m working in six and I’m seeing all the different processes that people do.

 

So it’s a crash course, but I certainly have found a passion for it myself. And I’ve been lucky enough to be able to increase my role slightly, but you know, a little bit such that I can take part more in the creative process, which is just thrilling and exciting and awesome. And I think it’s important for people to understand that because we see different things, you know, in TV and movies and, you know, sometimes it’s, you know, based on a true story where we’re, then you’ll go in online.

 

And so how accurate is this to the true story, but I don’t know if everyone always understands it. There is real science, you know, in a lot of these things. And I think that’s where some of that pop culture influence comes in for you kids in particular of seeing, oh, like this really could happen. I really could adapt this.

 

And you know, then we’ve got things like Back to the Future where people are wondering where’s our hovering vehicles at this point, you know, but it does, it inspires us in a lot of ways and a lot of it is based in science. So I think it’s great that. You know, people can understand that there are folks like you who have that academic background that are making that impact.

 

And like you said, you made a really good point about the fact that people can go online and look this stuff up. And I think that’s why. Jobs like this kind of exist is because shows, there are a lot of different shows out there right now. There’s a lot of media, there’s a lot of content and fans really respect that.

 

There’s been a little bit of a, you know, a little nugget here and there, but for me, I mean, I take a back seat to the creative process. So if they want to tell a story that doesn’t have much science in it, then I just help them figure out how. Not to explain it the right way, or how do you know that we just don’t say something explicitly wrong, I think is the most, most important thing.

 

Any sort of little scientific nuggets we can throw in there is just icing on the cake. Sometimes there’s a lot of icing, but it’s definitely secondary, but it’s, it’s great, but I think is always good. Exactly. So, so, you know, you’re now doing this work of Star Trek, and then you’ve also done some work as a voice actor.

 

So do you have a favorite role on that? You can tell us about that. You’ve done. Yeah, it’s funny because I, um, I got into acting when I was finishing up doing research, kind of when I was leaving the academic research community, I realized I hadn’t spoken to a stranger who wasn’t a scientist and like six years.

 

And so I just felt this urge to kind of. You know, treat my creative side a little bit better. And so I started taking some acting courses and I loved it. I just love acting. I found a real passion for it. The courses I were doing were very intense and I feel like did you know, make me a decent actor, even though it’s always a, it’s always a learning process, but the voice acting has just been fabulous because I love the ability to hide behind the voice.

 

That I, you know, if I’m acting on stage or in front of the camera, I’m only going to be narrowed down to a certain amount of roles, but with the, you know, voice range, you can play all sorts of things. And my favorite thing to do is video games. I love being an action star. I love bringing out that military side, but I’ve learned from the aerospace industry and, uh, getting to be, you know, a, a captain yelling at my Crew, but I did also get the chance to talk about my favorite role.

 

When I got started, some of the most fun projects I did were just kind of fan audio stories that people had written. And I was an am lucky enough to, I continue to do this has been a years’ long project, but there is a fan Star Wars story called Star Wars Fallen.

 

That is just an audio drama. And I get to play the main character and the villain and the villain is one of the villains from the clone wars, the Asajj Ventress, who I love and adore. And so being able to do both characters, be good and evil. And on top of that, being able to be one of my favorite characters is just, I love it.

 

I love it so much. It’s a happy place for me. That is so cool. And it’s funny, cause my step kids want to be voice actors and it’s one of those things. Like you always kind of think. I mean for me, it’s, you know, where would they get that idea? And it’s funny because I think video games is a big one for them of where they’ve gotten it from.

 

And, you know, there’s so much that you can portray through your voice. Like you said, that you can’t necessarily do if you’re, you know, the full actor, but when it’s just the voice that kind of gives you a different idea. So that’s just really awesome. It’s never seem odd to you to have you ever watched these or listened to these and you know, when you hear yourself as that.

 

Ever kind of awkward or unusual, you do get used to it. You get pretty desensitized to it. The funny thing is, is that your voice is always going to sound slightly different than you expect it to be. Even when you’re just recording commercials or things, you’ll record them. And then I’ll listen to it and be like, oh my gosh, I sound bored and tired.

 

You have to go and, you know, give it 110% to try to get that across. But for me being out here in LA now, spin sort of a great opportunity for me to have multiple avenues to work. I think a lot of people here do, and they, they understand that this industry is a bit of a grind. And so being able to kind of do my consulting and writing as well as the voice acting has is a really nice balance for me.

 

Definitely. And I’m sure it keeps things from getting boring. You know, if you’re doing a variety of right, right. There’s always something to do for better or worse. There’s always something, but at least there’s going to be different things. So why do you think the connection between. Science and science fiction or science and pop culture is so important for us.

 

I think, you know, I thought about this a lot and one of the reasons I kind of have gone into what I’m doing from a fan facing standpoint, which is teaching science through popular culture. I think that’s really the important thread because. I meet so many people who say, you know, I always wanted to be an astronomer or I always wanted to be an engineer, but math was really hard.

 

Or, you know, I had a really bad chemistry teacher or something like that. There’s always some sort of example of this and it kind of breaks my heart, but I think a lot of it is because science is hard. Math is hard and there’s not a lot of reference points for. People as they’re learning, you know, when we learn about history or we learn English or something, we have examples that we can point to and we can understand emotionally science by its nature.

 

Doesn’t have a lot of emotion associated with it, right. But if you’re able to tie in popular culture and say, for example, when I was teaching astronomy one oh one for the first time, most of my students just needed a science credit and they thought they’d get to look at the stars and not have to do any math.

 

They were in for a rude awakening, but you know, so half of my classes kind of disinterested and we’re talking about exoplanets, and I say, oh, we’ve discovered an exoplanet planet around another star system. That has two sons, like Luke Skywalker’s planet in Star Wars, and then the whole class perks up and they’re like, oh, but, okay.

 

So could there, so there is actually a planet like that. And what would that look like? And would it have desert? Could people live on it? And all of those questions? Yeah. You’re asking are rooted in the pop culture, but they’re asking the type of questions that you want a science class to ask. You know, they’re, they’re inquisitive, they’re trying to learn.

 

And so using pop culture as a reference to teach science. Even if it’s a teaching moment to say, this is why that wouldn’t work, you’re still teaching something and people still understand it on a more emotional level. So that’s why I think it’s so important is to be able to teach the science through the popular culture.

 

That’s funny you say that because as you were talking about that, I was thinking about when I was in grad school and my master’s is in communications and one of my favorite classes was communication and pop culture. And you know, it is, it’s the same thing that. You know, we ask, well, why did they make the villain red?

 

Or why is the villain wear black sort of a thing? Like there’s all these subtle nonverbal cues that tell us who is the good guy, who is the bad guy. So, I mean, we can use pop culture in so many things to teach, but especially in science, you know, you do want to maybe ask some of those questions that.

 

Seeing a Star Wars movie might be just what you need to prompt of, oh, that really could happen somewhere. You know, this, I love those movies too. When they have two signs or you can see the other planets and just thinking, how cool would that be? But then you’re like, well, if we had that, it would be every day you would have two sons.

 

So it wouldn’t really be cool. It would just be the norm. So it was always just kind of funny to really think about all of those things. So you were just saying here you teach. So you’ve done some teaching, but besides all the other cool pop culture stuff, you actually have a PhD in astrophysics. So can you tell us a little bit about your scientific studies?

 

I, you know, I went and got my PhD, not intending to be a professor, the academic route. Wasn’t like my end career goal. I didn’t know what my end career goal was. Other than being a science consultant for movies, it’s just the best thing ever. But what I did, bill of those, I loved research. I wasn’t great as a student when it came to exams and homework and stuff like that, but I was really good at research and I had the opportunity to start doing research as an undergrad.

 

And I, you know, I did really well in it. I really, it was radio astronomy when I was an undergraduate. And then I just wanted to keep doing that. I wanted to focus on doing research, learn as much as I could and just exist in that world for a little bit. And the natural progression is to go and do a PhD.

 

And so I actually, because I knew I might not want to be a professor to go down that route. I started to look at possible alternatives and just kind of think out of the box of ways I could continue doing research and American PhD programs in astrophysics are known for being very long and arduous and take a lot of your life and is great if you want to go down the academic route.

 

But for someone like me who has already had a lot of research in my background, I published a paper as an undergrad. I started looking at other opportunities and I found the UK PhD program suited to my background a little bit better that you just jumped right in. I mean, you are given a desk and a computer and they say, all right, you’re on your own.

 

We’ll see you in three years with a dissertation, but I was ready for that because I’d been doing research for a few years. And so I moved to Scotland. I went to the University of Glasgow and I did my PhD in general relativity with the Lego collaboration, studying gravitational waves from neutron stars and Camry bursts.

 

And some people might’ve heard of gravitational waves, they were postulated by Einstein back in 1915 as this idea that you have that bowling ball on the trampoline idea of gravity. Right. And if that, and what he did was he was like, okay, well, what if that bowling ball like changes or something collides into it?

 

What if there’s a change to the masses? And you can like, play with the math and propagate it all the way out. And you end up with a wave equation. So he realized that, okay, if a bowling ball explodes or two black holes crash into each other, that’s going to ripple space-time and those ripples are going to carry through and they’re there, but no one will ever detect them.

 

And scientists took a hundred years, but worked towards that. And that was the Lego collaboration. They developed this way to detect gravitational waves from the most extreme events in our universe, black holes, colliding being one of them. And it essentially detects these ripples that have been traveling for billions of years.

 

That have resulted from these big events. I did work in the collaboration before they made this detection. So I was there from 2009 through 2014 and in 2015, they made their Nobel prize winning detection. But it’s fine. My official story is that I loosened to the jar lid, but it was, you know, it was great for me.

 

I genuinely don’t regret leaving because it was a great experience, but I knew we were close to making a detection, but again, I, that wasn’t necessarily my end career goal. So I waited, you know, it was a lot of decision-making, but I’m happy with kind of the decisions I made and I’m super proud to have been a part of it at all.

 

I think it’s, it’s a whole new field of astronomy that us as a society are opening up to now. Well, and that’s one of the things that I think we like to try to talk about on the podcast here is the fact that there’s so many people involved. So, you know, maybe you did loosen the lid of the jar a little bit.

 

And that’s huge because there’s so many people and the fact that it took a hundred years. So imagine how many people had a little piece of the puzzle that they put into it. It’s the whole old adage, “it takes a village” sort of a thing to do these sorts of things. So that’s super great. So on the astrophysics topic here, uh, we were talking a little bit before I am a huge fan of the Big Bang Theory.

 

Favorite show, you know, after a bad day, that’s all I want to do is watch it. And, uh, when I first started watching it, I told my mom, you have to watch this. And she was like, I’m not watching a show about nerds. No, it’s not just about nerds. And so I just love the show. So Raj on the show is also an astrophysicist.

 

So can you tell us about his role as a depiction actually on the field of astrophysicists? It is funny, you know, in the Big… I kind of fell off watching the Big Bang Theory, just, you know, from everything else going on in my life. But I did watch the first few seasons pretty carefully and they kind of nailed it a little bit.

 

So just the personalities and the quirks that they have. And I always found like if I had physicist friends who watched the show and, uh, hated one of the characters. Because they were that character, but it’s, you know, they never, they went into some of their research a little bit that they do. I think probably the least realistic depiction in the Big Bang Theory is just their jobs and the longevity of these contracts, because it’s, they’re kind of presented as junior professors/researchers/staff scientists at Caltech.

 

And the way the academic world works is you get your PhD. Then you go and do post-doctoral research, which has sort of your pre professor track research. And that takes years. And in astrophysics, I think most people do about five to seven, at least years of post-docs. And that requires moving every. Now one to three years between institutions.

 

So the fact that they were all able to have a contract at Caltech for 10 years, is it plus however many there was before the show started that that was probably the least realistic side, but whatever they show them, just kind of goofing around in their offices and all the little nuances of working in a, in a department that that was pretty spot on.

 

But speaking about the Big Bang Theory. I think. One of the interesting things about it is how they depicted women in science, in science as it. And I think I’m forgetting the name of the character who was in the first few seasons, the woman, and that I did really like her, but then they, you know, and then they brought on the girlfriends and everyone from there.

 

But my MBE, Alec, uh, who played Amy for a Fowler, she actually does have a PhD in neuroscience. And I was lucky enough to be on a panel with her last year with Geena Davis talking about how pop culture influences people to go into sciences. And we discussed the Scully effect and how Geena Davis’ organization the Institute for Gender and Media did an actual study into how many women went into science because they watched the X-Files as a kid.

 

And to talk to my MBA, Alec, about her experience working as a scientist and in the entertainment industry. We were very similar personalities. And that was really interesting to see, and I love how she was able to carry that into the show.

 

And I think did it pretty effectively, we all know those people well, and that’s the funny thing too. Cause like I was saying earlier, you know, any TV show, I always. Think, oh, I’d be that one or that one. And my background is in marketing and business. And one day my husband even asked, he’s like, well, you know, who’s your favorite one?

 

Or who do you see yourself in the most? And it’s funny because sometimes I see myself as Penny. I’m kind of the idiot about some of the science stuff, but you know, there’s a little bit of each, one of them that I can relate to. And so I just, I said, it’s my favorite show. And I have to ask because she’s an astrophysicist and she is on the show and I’ve heard that they also have someone like you, who helps that I’ve been read once that all of the equations on their whiteboards are real equations and that a professor it’s actually his homework or his exam question.

 

So if students taking his class, see it. So, you know, those little Easter eggs, I think are always a lot of fun. That’s awesome. Definitely. Absolutely. So like I said, I had to ask, it was a very personal question for me.

 

I love it. So, this I absolutely love on your website, and you have your name and then you have this little subtitle. That’s basically a description of who you are. So most people are almost like on LinkedIn. You would have communicator or science communicator, voice actor, but your title is Tattooed Scottish-American N7 Rebel from Starfleet Academy.

 

And I love that it is one of the most out of the box descriptions I think I’ve ever seen. So yeah, we could dissect it and I could probably guess all of these things, but where did this come from? So the problem is, is like I have a hard time condensing who I am into a phrase because professionally I wear so many hats and before I got into Star Trek specifically, but was employed, well, practically full-time as a consultant, I was, you know, I had multiple jobs and I am like a one woman career panel for an astrophysics degree that it’s like, I’ve done research, I’ve done teaching, I’ve worked in museums.

 

I have worked as an aerospace engineer and I’ve worked as a consultant. I am just, I’m all over the place. And so trying to condense that, let alone my person personality very difficult. And. For me, it was important to try to convey my, a little bit about who I am, but also to show that relatability and the same way that we have discussed using pop culture as a reference point. I think it’s important to also be accessible to people that I don’t want to be Dr. Macdonald, the scary astrophysicist who’s going to tell you that you’re dumb and you’re wrong.

 

I want to be like, oh, you know, Dr. Erin, whatever, like let’s call her. Cause she’s a nerd and she gets it and I love and hate, love and hate the gender neutrality of the doctor title. I mean, I love it. I’m way on the love camp of it, but it does hold that scary weight.

 

And the part that I love about it is being able to tip it over it on its head. When people heard they’re taking Astronomy 101 with Dr. MacDonald. They are not expecting a younger redhead woman covered in tattoos as the lecturer. Never. They’re never expecting that. And so I do like to throw that out there.

 

I think in this industry too, in the consulting world, people have sometimes had negative experiences from those astrophysicists coming in and just being like, no, that’s wrong, that’s wrong. So I want to tie in the fact that I am a fan, so, but breaking it down. I do have tattoos. I have a lot of tattoos.

 

There’s over 20 I’ve kind of lost track a little bit of how many that I have, but it’s great to throw that people just don’t expect that at all. I am Scottish American, the last name Macdonald, and it is spelled like Macbeth style. So I come from a old ancient, angry Highland family who will hold on to our roots as long as possible.

 

Yeah. And then I liked throwing in all of my fandom because I’m very much like I hate fandom gatekeeping, this idea that you’re not allowed to be a Star Wars fan, if you’re a Star Trek fan or any of those things where if you play video games or you, you know, you have to choose one thing or the other. So I was like, how can I fit all of them in there?

 

And I have multiple tattoos that incorporate multiple fandoms right now. I’m working on this. It’s a whole sleeve of all of my favorite science fiction ships in there, not relationships, but those spaceships. And, uh, so the Slytherin Harry Potter, I’m a hardcore slither in as hardcore as it can get. And it’s, it’s all about the ambition and the loyalty.

 

And. I will say that when I got my first job as a manager in the aerospace industry, one of my employees just said she was really glad to have a sliver. And as a manager, sure. I look out for my people. The end seven comes from mass effect, the mass effect, video game series. Not a lot of people. I mean, there is a lot of people who have played it, but if you haven’t played those.

 

It is a loyal fan base and the science and mass effect is awesome. It’s awesome. From a science fiction, storytelling, you just, you get to play a space, captain saving the galaxy over the course of three games, and it’s just an amazing, yeah. If you haven’t played it, I recommend it. And then rebel is from Star Wars.

 

I will always on the rebellion side, my partner is an Empire bad guy. So we always, we, a lot of Rebel versus Empire stuff in our house and a Starfleet Academy. That’s the thing that I love about being a science consultant from, for Star Trek, because I will throw down like I am the ranking science officer at Starfleet Academy.

 

I will hold on to that very strongly. So, so yeah, that’s, that’s the breakdown, but I feel like it’s, it’s something where I wanted people to look at my profile and be like, all right, I get her. And I also feel like I can talk about one of those things as an access point, you know? All right. Let’s talk mass effect.

 

I saw the N7, I know you like mass effects and that kind of leads me to my next question, because, you know, obviously you’re doing the Star Trek stuff. I have noticed there’s a little more Star Trek heavy for you, but obviously you’ve got, you know, the rebel in there. So, and you kind of talked a little bit about, you know, Star Wars versus Star Trek.

 

So do you have a side, I mean, are you more Trekkie or Star Wars or are they equal for you? It depends on what I’m in the mood for, because I think that they are so different. The only thing they have in common is that they take place in space. That’s pretty much where it stops. And for me, I have mentors on both sides.

 

So I have Captain Janeway and I have General Leia or Guinan who I will worship at her feet for the rest of my life. So I love her. I love her. And I think. Both have the ability to tell stories that we can learn from, but they’re very different stories. And, you know, Star Wars is very much the hero’s journey, the idea of archetypes and these, you know, again, we all find characters that we relate to, but Star Wars has those very clear archetypes that have permeated society for as long as we’ve been telling stories.

 

And that’s, that’s what I love. I will always love a hero’s journey story. Um, I love the characters. I make my partner uncomfortable on multiple occasions with how much I love Obi-Wan Kenobi. Like I, I, yeah, so I do the space in my heart for Star Wars is very, very big.

 

Even as I’m talking to you here, I have like three Star Trek things here and I have two Star Wars things, so we can count them up and see what wins, but they’re very much 50/50 in my world. It’s funny because growing up, I really was not Star Wars or Star Trek. Yeah. I was way more into comics. I was always a Batman kid and it’s funny because Big Bang really taught me about Star Trek because Sheldon is all about Spock.

 

And so in the most recent movie series started a few years ago, you know, I watched it and like I do find like I really enjoy Spock and I see all the things from the Big Bang Theory and. But it’s funny. Cause a lot of people are very much like it’s kind of one or the other. So it’s good that you have that nice balance between the two of them too.

 

I think like, ‘cause I did grow up, throw up more with Star Wars. My, neither of my parents are like big sci-fi fans and so I wasn’t exposed to it much. And then I got Star Wars, you know, when I was younger and the prequels were coming out, which were more for like my younger brother, but that was something that the two of us really shared.

 

And uh, so I do have a lot of nurses. For Star Wars. And it’s funny, you mentioned like the big bang theory exposing you to the Star Trek world, because I think that’s one of those things is like everyone knows Star Trek, even if it’s just Spock and the live long and prosper. And there’s like little things that they’ll know cultural reference wise, but it, because it’s been around for over 50 years and because it has such a loyal fan.

 

Family and fan base, it can feel intimidating to get into and feel like you might not be a part of it. And yeah, real quick. I don’t want to believe her in too long because when I, I first got invited to give a talk at the official Star Trek convention a few years ago. I had stress dreams for weeks about it, because I was just like, I felt like I was a part, I was a fan, but I was like, oh God, these are Star Trek fans.

 

Like they’re legendary for being Star Trek fans. I’m like, they’re going to kick me out. They’re going to call me out. I’m not going to, I’m not one of them. And so I couldn’t have been more wrong, you know, it was just whatever you loved, even if it’s just like, one person walking around with the most obscure reference that’s there, you know, they have their one series and don’t care to talk Voyager.

 

Yeah. They respect it, but there’s no hate. It is just the most like welcoming. Family that I’ve ever seen. And so I think because Star Wars is so big from a fan standpoint and Star Trek is so big from a cannon standpoint, the amount of stuff that’s out there that Star Trek family, I think feels much more.

 

I can talk to a Star Wars fan and we’ll debate stuff and there’ll be stuff we like. And don’t like, but if I meet a fellow Star Trek fan, we will sit for hours talking about our favorite things. So there there’s these little emotional nuances that I think everyone has, but I’ve just, I do love the Star Trek fandoms so deeply, and it’s fabulous.

 

And they didn’t throw me out for showing up with Star Wars suitcases, which was causing most of the stress dreams. So. That, that seems like it would almost be like a sci-fi sin to do that. I know I was, I was panicked ‘cause those are the only suitcases I own are Star Wars suitcases. I was like, do I, should I cover them up?

 

Like, how should I just run in? Should I have someone else carry them in? But it was fine. Most people laughed about it. If not we’re like, where did you get those suitcases? Well, it has been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show today, Erin, I really enjoyed our conversation. So thank you so much for being with us.

 

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for geeking out with me. Anytime. Well, that will conclude this episode of the Space Foundation’s Space4U podcast. You can subscribe to this podcast and leave us a review on Podbean, Apple Podcasts, and a Google Play. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and of course our website www.spacefoundation.org, where you can also learn about the various ways that you can support the Space Foundation.

 

On all of these outlets and more, it is our goal to inspire, educate, connect, and advocate for the space community, because at the Space Foundation, we will always have space for you. Thank you.


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Space4U Podcast: Erin Macdonald – Tattooed Scottish-American N7 Rebel from Starfleet Academy