When it comes to inspiring young women to enter science and engineering, few have done as much as Kari Byron, the host of MythBusters on the Discovery Channel.
She’s not only a fine artist and mother of a 3-year old, but also a seasoned special effects engineer. In past seasons, a typical work day might include arc welding and firing automatic weapons … in a paisley-print sun dress. She has even hosted her own series – Head Rush, on the Science Channel – specifically to get middle school kids jazzed about science. And on Sunday, October 28 Byron returns as host of Large Dangerous Rocket Ships on the Science Channel.
"It's taken a lot of persistence and hard work to get here,” she says, “but it's so worth it to do the crazy things that I do for a living while also inspiring young women to follow their dreams."
Byron jumped into special effects after graduating from San Francisco State University. As a sculpture major she knew how to use tools and wasn't afraid of a few sparks.
She got her first job in special effects at M5 industries, a visual effects shop run by original MythBuster Jamie Hyneman. At the time, she was one of a small minority of women in the field. She worked her way up in the mostly male shop by building models and prototyping toys. She eventually made it onto the MythBusters "build team" where she continues to blow things up with the boys.
But don’t call her a tomboy … as we discovered, when we caught up with her for a chat.