Once teased for her love of bugs, 8-year-old co-authors scientific paper

If you will see Sophia Spencer in person, would you even assume she co-authored a scientific paper? You would probably think that she’s like the rest of the kids of her age; someone who enjoys playing with dolls and tea parties. But instead of playing with dolls and dress-up games, Sophia busies herself playing with different insects!

Despite her young age, Sophia is an expert in bugs and insects, most especially with her favorite grasshoppers! In fact, there are times that Sophia would give her bugs a ride on her shoulder.

However, her hobby which is different from her peers was not understood by children of her age. Because of her passion and enthusiasm in playing with insects, Sophia became a subject of ridicule to her peers and was singled out.

Good thing that Sophia has an understanding and supportive mom who only wants her to be happy. Nicole Spencer thought hard how she will be able to encourage Sophia to never give up on her passion. Today, at the young age of 8, Sophia got published in a Scientific Journal, the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

Nicole addressed her concern to the Entomological Society of Canada. She shared information about her smart daughter Sophia, who wanted to know if she can have a job related to her passion for bugs. According to the mother, she only wanted to encourage Sophia and reassure her that there is nothing wrong in having interest in entomology.

“I have an eight year old daughter who loves to learn and explore the world of bugs and insects. She is often teased at school by her peers because she will proudly display her current bug friend on her shoulder. I was wondering if a professional entomologist would speak to her over the phone to encourage her love and explain to her how she could make this into a career. I am constantly looking for articles and information on the species and how to recognize them, but find the lack of answers to her questions unhelpful.”

Nicole’s concern was acknowledged and shared by ESC, they also invited entomologists to connect with Sophia. The kindhearted people at ESC even used a new hashtag #BugsR4Girls to assure Sophia and other girls like her that their passion is not odd.

“A young girl who loves insects is being bullied & needs our support. DM your email & we’ll connect you! #BugsR4Girls Immediately.” 

Soon after, direct messages and positive replies poured. Some expressed their vocal support for Sophia, while others even offered to send entomology research tools and scientific books to help the little girl pursue her interest.

Through the help of Entomological Society of Canada, Sophia and an entomology Ph.D. candidate named  Morgan Jackson, joined forces together. Morgan Jackson, happened to be working on a scientific paper about how Twitter can be a powerful tool for science and the promotion of women in science.

Sophia shared her story on and became the author of “Engaging for a Good Cause: Sophia’s Story and Why #BugsR4Girls.”

“After my mom sent the message and showed me all the responses, I was happy,” Sophia wrote on her article. “I felt like I was famous. Because I was! It felt good to have so many people support me, and it was cool to see other girls and grown-ups studying bugs. It made me feel like I could do it too, and I definitely, definitely, definitely want to study bugs when I grow up, probably grasshoppers.”

Due to her incredible story, a lot of little girl got inspired and shared their own encounters with bugs and insects. As it turned out, Sophia is not ‘weird’ after all, for a lot of children her age are fascinated with these little creatures as well!

“#BugsR4Girls My niece looking in my net to see what we caught!” Dr. Jessica L Ware Lab shared on Twitter.

Dara McAnulty posted a tweet about how proud she is for her sister’s hobby, “#BugsR4Girls – my little sister, Bee. Proud bug/moth/bat/nature lover!!”

“Before … I really thought loving bugs wasn’t the best hobby,” Sophia explained. “But after I realized bugs are for girls I thought to myself, ‘Well, I think I should start loving bugs again, because just because people say they’re weird and gross doesn’t mean I shouldn’t like them.”

Such a wonderful realization coming from a little girl! May Sophia’s beautiful story enlighten everyone not to give up on their passion simply because of the opinion of other people.

Watch Sophia’s beautiful story of redemption that truly proves the #BugsR4Girls!

Photos and Video | 1010Wins and Twitter

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