Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Academic life in Lego proves hit

One of the photos posted on the @LegoAcademics Twitter account
One of the photos posted on the @LegoAcademics Twitter account

An archaeologist who recreates scenes from academic life using Lego figures has gained thousands of followers on Twitter.

Donna Yates photographs the characters from the "Research Institute" set in different poses and posts the pictures to the LegoAcademics account.

They include a photo of female Lego figures celebrating the weekend with drinks, with the tongue-in-cheek caption: "Work Life Balance: The academics enjoy Friday drinks... because they know they will be working through the weekend."

Another shows a figure clasping a giant mug with the caption: "Dr Red quickly downs her 4th cup so she won't miss coffee with a co-author followed by the coffee break team meeting."

The account has gained more than 13,000 followers since her first tweet on Friday.

Dr Yates, an archaeologist in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at Glasgow University, said: "Reflecting on it, perhaps the most interesting and exciting thing about this Twitter account are its followers.

"We have over 10,000 of the smartest, most inspiring people in the world, people who have devoted their lives to advancing every academic and scientific field imaginable, often because they love it, but for the benefit of all.

"These are the people that our children should look up to and should have as heroes. The Lego Academics are honoured to have such followers as 'peers'."

Lego released three female scientists as part of its Research Institute set earlier this month and they have already sold out.

Dr Yates said: "I am a bit surprised by how popular the Lego Academics have become, but I think that this goes to show that the image of a woman as a scientist isn't just accepted, it is embraced.

"I've got a lot of replies about the Lego Academics tweets but my absolute favourite was a mother reporting that after she showed the photos to her daughter, the little girl asked how she could become a professor too."

As part of the University's Trafficking Culture Project, which is funded by the European Research Council, the Leverhulme Foundation and the Fulbright Programme, Dr Yates is in a team of researchers who are studying the international trafficking of antiquities and the looting of archaeological sites.

Dr Yates insisted she is not using the posts to complain about academia.

She said: "Really, I have my dream job. Sure, there are some frustrations in the life of an academic, but I think I have the best job in the world."

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