Profiles in Regeneration: Lauren, 17, US
Education can unlock different perspectives, and knowing what’s possible then expands the boundaries of your imagination
Young people all around the world are working to build a regenerative future. At 17, Lauren Lin is one of those people. She is one of the co-founders of Spoke Science, along with Dhwani Sreenivas and Alex Burt. The three of them have created an online platform that connects climate and medical researcher with social media influencers to reinvent the way science is communicated to the public.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Lauren Lin: At this very moment, I’m feeling okay! Pretty happy, a bit stressed, pretty tired. Being a high school senior during the pandemic is difficult. There are so many distractions — our country’s political state, college deadlines, etc. And doing my homework feels somewhat insignificant as I feel that I should be focusing on tackling the current issues of racism, education, state runoffs, to name a few. But, I’ve been going on walks while calling friends, which has been a nice way for me to get outside and catch up.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
LL: I have an obsession with grocery shopping. I used to go often before Covid-19, but now I’m in and out as fast as possible. I’ll be browsing independent brands’ websites and online grocery platforms for new products. I like to informally gather trend observations in the food/wellness space! Going grocery shopping is also my way of getting graphic design, branding, and packaging inspiration.
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
LL: A book that I’m reading right now is Design Justice by Sasha Constanza-Chock. The book truly changed my perspective of design — our world is built with bias, as well as racist, classist, and ableist ideals. And as we look to the future, artificial intelligence can easily develop biases, imposing another oppressive system through technology. Design Justice reinforced the need for diverse teams in order to amplify muted perspectives and voices, and this is something I commit myself to upholding. Additionally, since we just had the election, I’ve been reading lots of articles from The New York Times, Politico, The Atlantic, etc. about American politics and the health of our democracy. In particular, I’m fascinated by the causes for our extreme polarization, and the process of how individuals change their political views.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
LL: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Megan Thee Stallion. Classic Gen Z answers! Their strength, work ethic, humor, and ability to keep it real inspires me. I’m so grateful to grow up with them as role models. I admire the way they are able to bring their intersectional identities to their work, whether they’re making music, writing Op-Eds, playing Among Us, or interacting with younger generations on social media while exposing us to new perspectives. I’d also say that all my teachers are my favorite humans. They’ve always been my heroes, and especially during the pandemic, I am continuously touched by their dedication and care. Sorry… that was a lot of favorite humans!
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
LL: My dad is a scientist, and my mom is not. I’ve seen numerous conversations between them where my dad is trying to explain something that is supported by science, but it’s hard for my mom to fully understand. These interactions represented the disconnect between academia and the general public. Additionally, as someone who spends a lot of time on social media, I constantly see influencers with brand deals, promoting products, as well as establishing trust and connection with their audience. So, I thought that influencers have a strategic platform — their job is about sharing themselves and their perspective — and that could be leveraged in partnership with academia to bring digestible information to people’s social media feeds.
RF: In two years time, what would your project’s success look like?
LL: I’d love for Spokescience to collaborate with popular fitness Youtubers/Instagrammers, eco-conscious celebrities, and TikTokers. A research study going viral on mainstream media (not just science twitter) with the help of influencers would be incredibly exciting as well. I think I’d deem the project successful through the little things, too. For example, if I scroll through influencers’ comments on a Spokescience collab post, and see followers leaving comments of reflection or appreciation, I’d be happy to see that we were able to deliver research in a fun way!
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
LL: Education. In my AP US History class, my teacher shared a recent study by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The report discovered that only 8 percent of high school seniors knew that slavery was the central cause of the Civil War. I was shocked, and I still am. I think this astoundingly small percentage speaks to the inconsistency of American education curriculum across the country. Our textbooks need to reckon with our past — colonization, “manifest destiny” and its effect on the indigenous population, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, etc. The government needs to unify curriculum, invest in resources, and ensure accessibility for those who face challenges in receiving education. Maybe the whole K-12 system needs to be reimagined; rather, there should be a lifelong education program of sorts. Additionally, the government should prioritize underfunded school districts. Education can unlock different perspectives, and knowing what’s possible then expands the boundaries of your imagination. For a country with significant resources, America should dedicate greater funding and planning to the education sector. Also, pay teachers more! The profession is highly undervalued, but teachers can truly instill magic in children and change lives. It’s easy to tell what professions are valued by society based on salary. Teachers need to be valued, recognized, and celebrated more (and teach U.S. history truthfully).
RF: What are the best and the worst things about the education system in your country?
LL: I think I touched on some things in the previous question. I’m grateful that I’ve had pretty good teachers throughout my life thus far, so the best thing in my opinion is teachers. Being at school also provides a support system and sometimes a safe space for students. Again, this is just from my experience. I know that the education disparity across the U.S. is extremely large and varied — that’s probably the worst thing. I feel very critical, but the more I’ve researched U.S. history and education, it’s clear to me that there is a lot to be fixed.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2040?
LL: Hmm… First, keep taking care of the planet! Keep teaching anti-racism. Keep pushing for equality and equity. Always hold your leaders accountable. Be empathetic! Be critical and optimistic — it’s people like you who can reimagine our world and keep pushing for progress. Have fun while you’re at it because YOLO. And, since you’re a senior in high school, enjoy it as much as you can! :)
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
LL: What frightens me is the fact that extreme polarization and social media will keep perpetuating our culture war. Also, I feel like we’re experiencing a 21st century combination of the Civil War, Great Depression, 1918 pandemic, Civil Rights movement, and Roaring 20’s (wealth disparity). However, I don’t want to end on a sad note, because there is still lots of inspiration to keep us going. I’m inspired by Gen Z. We have big ideas. We have a lot of potential.
RF: Regeneration is…
LL: The metamorphosis of society and humanity — an evolution towards a better future.
To learn more about Regenerative List Finalists, Lauren Lin and Spoke Science, click here.