Physics professor’s viral videos help inspire women to pursue science

According to the American Physical Society, a nonprofit organization based in Maryland, only a quarter of American graduates with bachelor’s degrees in physics are women. But Texas A&M University physics professor Dr. Tatiana Erokhimova is trying to change that with the help of social media.

Videos of his experiments have piqued people’s curiosity on TikTok, garnering millions of views over the past two years.

“You can’t explain much in these short clips, but … you can inspire,” he said.

Aafia Dhanani studied at Texas A&M University after seeing Erukhimova’s physics experiments online.

“Watching Dr. Tatiana do experiments online, especially since she was a female leader, was more inspiring for me to go into physics,” Dhanani said.

Erokhimova’s journey began thousands of miles away, about six hours northeast of Moscow, before the collapse of the Soviet Union. She grew up with two physicists as parents and later married a physicist, Alexey. He moved to College Station, Texas, where he serves as an educator.

“I didn’t feel like home. But you make it home,” Erokhimova said.

When she is not teaching, Erukhimova is involved in outreach. In 2021, she was involved in a study involving 10,000 students, physicists and other science professionals. Studies have shown that men are no more suited to physics than women – a message they use to this day.

“We collected midterm exams, final exams, final scores, final grade grades over 10 years. There was no consistent difference in male and female performance on these exam scores. And I found that my students’ has a very important message,” Erokhimova said.

Former student Nicole Sergioni praised Erokhimova’s enthusiasm and dedication to teaching, saying, “You can tell when a teacher wants to be somewhere else. But when you walk into Dr. Tatiana’s classroom, you You can tell she wants you to be there. She cares and wants you to learn, which makes you want to learn.”

Next up for Erokhimova is the “Physics and Engineering Festival” at A&M in April, an event that draws thousands to campus each year. The festival is open to everyone, and according to Erokhimova, you don’t have to be a scientist to celebrate science, just like you don’t have to be a musician to attend a music festival.

Erokhimova “always wanted everything to be like a celebration of science,” said former student Callie Reithmann.

“And I think his viral videos have really taken that celebration everywhere,” she said.

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