Two months after the Banff workhop, Gardy was working as a post-doctoral fellow in bioinformatics/microbiology at UBC when she received an email from one of her workshop colleagues. CBC was looking for a media-friendly scientist willing to be an on-air guinea pig for a new pop-science television documentary.
“It landed in my inbox and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is it,’” she recalls. Within days of sending in her DVD audition, she heard back from CBC’s producers, who requested an in-person interview. She got the job.
“We shot the pilot for Project X in January 2007 and it was super interesting,” she says. “I got to sex alligators on one of those airboats in a Louisiana bayou, take sweaty towels and shirts from handsome exercising men, and suggestively chew on an apple in front of two naked people on a soundstage in Toronto.”
CBC commissioned eight episodes of Project X, with Gardy hosting the human body and health segments in each program. The shows aired in 2008, earning decent ratings. But when CBC acquired the popular shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, Project X was shuffled off into scheduling purgatory.
Gardy has since hosted several episodes of CBC’s The Nature of Things, including an episode called “Bugs, Bones, and Botany” that featured several SFU faculty. In 2011, Gardy starred in another Nature of Things episode of “Myth or Science,” again as a host and science guinea pig. She endured a frigid cold-water dunking, munched her way through an eating competition, and tested her attractiveness to mosquitoes and overcooked meat to see if it could cause cancer.
“It was one of the highest-rated Nature of Things episodes CBC has ever had,” she says. “They commissioned a second one and we filmed it in March and April this year. It will air in November or December.”
In 2011 Gardy also received a call from Daily Planet to join their roster of fill-in hosts. “I’ve worked a month in total over the last two seasons – sometimes for just a day, sometimes a week.” On one of those shows she co-hosted with guest host and mentor Jay Ingram.
Juggling research and communication is a bit of a science all in itself, but Gardy is managing. Her job at BCCDC includes a 20 percent time slot to devote to her own research program or interests. She uses that time for science communication.
In addition to her TV work and job at BCCDC, she is an assistant professor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health. She’s also in demand as a speaker in the world of science conferences, bringing a snazzy twist to scientific proceedings that are often dry.