‘Face to Face’ With Scientist aka Children’s Book Author


One of UC Davis’ newest faculty members may be focused on researching the way the body sends signals about being cold, but she’s also writing a series of children’s books so kids from underrepresented minorities know they can be scientists.

Theanne Griffith

“As a Black woman that was once a young Black girl, growing up in the nineties there weren’t a lot of books that had people that looked like me,” said Theanne Griffith, an assistant professor of in the department of Physiology and Membrane Biology, in the School of Medicine. “And I don’t think I realized until I got older the consequence of that lack of representation on my confidence to be a successful scientist.”

Griffith is the second guest of Chancellor Gary S. May’s new talk show, Face to Face. The episode was released today, and can be watched above or on YouTube. In the monthly series of video interviews, May said he talks with “students, faculty and staff innovators about what they’re working on and how they’re making a difference in the real world.”

The show’s first guest was Akshita Gandra, a senior majoring in cognitive science who founded The Revival Zine, an online publication focused on giving a voice to college students from around the country writing about feminism and social justice.


In the second episode, Griffith talks about moving to UC Davis from the East Coast and setting up her lab in the middle of a pandemic, including the one hot-ticket piece of lab equipment she had to wait for. May asks for her “elevator pitch” for her research, and she explains the way developing an over-sensitivity to cold from chemotherapy drugs makes some people want to stop that therapy.

They also discuss the unique way Griffith describes herself: neuroscientist and children’s book author. She is the author of The Magnificent Makers, which her website describes as “a modern-day Magic School Bus for chapter book readers” ages 7-10. She wrote the first when she was on leave after having her first daughter in 2017, and sought to show a diverse group of children learning and taking a scientific approach to solving problems. Three books have been published so far, and the fourth, The Magnificent Makers: The Great Germ Hunt, is due out in October.

Both episodes of Face to Face is available on the UC Davis YouTube page.

Media Resources

Cody Kitaura is a News and Media Relations Specialist in the Office of Strategic Communications, and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.

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