Nerd Girls Save The World: 17 Of Pop Culture’s Greatest Female Geeks

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Cosima Niehaus (Tatiana Maslany) in Orphan Black (Image via BBC America)

4. Cosima Niehaus (Orphan Black)

Though Cosima Niehaus was once a Ph.D. student studying Experimental Evolutionary Developmental Biology, she’s since dropped out. Her half-finished degree isn’t gathering dust, however. She’s using her knowledge and experience to study a group of clones – of which she herself is one.

This isn’t an easy task, however. In the world of Orphan Black, Cosima and the other clones (all played by Tatiana Maslany) are more likely to suffer a congenital respiratory disease. Cosima herself is suffering the effects of the disease. It doesn’t help that mysterious government agents are doing everything they can to keep the truth of her research and the other clones’ work from getting out. Despite the near-constant state of fear, Cosima is dedicated to finding a cure to the disease and saving her sisters from a terrible fate.

In addition to being a proud nerd, Cosima is also a queer character. She refers to herself as a lesbian while making a speech as another character (in the season 3 episode “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate”). Tatiana Maslany has also mentioned that the Orphan Black writers have mentioned that Cosima is bisexual, though Maslany herself declines to pick a particular orientation for her character.

At any rate, Cosima is proudly different. She’s also using her substantial genius to save both her clone sisters and, possibly, the world itself.