STEMinism Sunday: Ella Lopez and the Forensics of Lucifer

March 22, 2020

Ella Lopez (played by Aimee Garcia in Lucifer)Welcome to STEMinism Sunday! As a former woman in science, I have a deep and enduring interest in the experiences and representation of women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). This series will be an opportunity for me – and you – to learn more about these intellectual badasses.

I am a huge fan of Lucifer, the show in which the devil gets tired of running Hell and moves to LA to run a nightclub… and solve crimes. It’s a ridiculous premise that shouldn’t work at all, and yet it’s completely delightful, largely because of the characters.

One of which is Ella Lopez, the Catholic, hug-loving, adorably geeky forensic scientist.

First, we must acknowledge that, scientifically-speaking, the forensics on Lucifer are terrible. For one thing, Ella seems to be the medical examiner, the crime scene tech, and the analyst all rolled into one, which is… just not how it works. For another, she seems to be able to determine whether a corpse has broken ribs and a ruptured spleen just by looking at their outfit, and, well, no. Definitely with the no. This is why we have autopsies.

And yet, I still kind of love her. For one thing, her optimism and sense of humour are rays of sunshine in a show that could very easily tend towards unrelenting darkness (hello, Lucifer is the actual devil – a charming devil, but still). And her enthusiasm for her work and for science in general is really refreshing. Unlike forensic scientists on shows like CSI or Bones – the kind who are on a mission – we get the feeling that Ella is here because she just loves a good puzzle. Sure, she wants to help people, but mostly she’s in this because forensic science is COOL.

As a former forensic scientist and the author of four kids’ books on the topic, I kind of agree with her.

Ella also knows who she is and never apologizes for it. She wears what she wants and says what she wants, and because she’s both a good person and really, really good at what she does, her coworkers accept and love her for it. That is also… not very realistic for many real women in STEM. But it’s very, very nice to see.

Overall, Ella is an unusual, refreshing, and totally endearing portrait of a woman in science, and I’d love to see more characters like her in TV and film.

Are you a fan of Lucifer? Do you love Ella, too? Who are some of your other favourite fictional women in STEM?

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