An undergraduate ISU student is sharing science with millions on TikTok.
Katelyn Rusiniak, a senior biology and chemistry major from Saint John, Indiana, is posting TikTok videos of her activities using a stream table in the Science Building and one of her videos has reached 3 million views.
A stream table is used to demonstrate and simulate water-related concepts and principles. The popular video, which Rusiniak titled Maze, shows erosion. Rusiniak is pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the video and was thrilled to learn that there are many people interested in science. “I thought this was a niche thing,” she said. “I never expected this.”
The company that made the stream table found her video and reached out with gifts. The company now follows her posts and engages with them regularly.
Rusiniak posts regularly. Other videos about science concepts that she posted on TikTok are collectively getting hundreds of thousands of views. Her account, @kt.rus.007, now has 23,900 followers.
She says it’s exciting to see viewers get the “aha” moment when they learn something new from her videos.
“It’s cool to see other people get interested in science and especially science that they can see around them,” she said. “Everyone has a creek or a drainage ditch and everyone can see a culvert that has riprap on it and understand that it’s there to prevent erosion. It’s helping them connect the dots between the science behind the stuff they see everyday.”
Last month, Rusiniak and Ph.D. student Kathryn Mudica gave a presentation at the West Branch of the Vigo County Public Library on their research on the water quality of the Wabash River as part of programming related to the Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit. Both students conducted the research under the guidance of Dr. Jennifer Latimer, chairperson and professor of Geology.
Rusiniak is a SURF fellow (Sycamore Undergraduate Research Fellowship) and has participated in the SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences) program.