Birthplace: Santa Clara County, California, United States
Kari Elizabeth Byron Urich (née Byron, born December 18, 1974) is an American television host and artist, best known for her featured role on the Discovery Channel show MythBusters and Netflix's White Rabbit Project.
Byron was born in California. She graduated from Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos, California and studied at San Francisco State University, graduating magna cum laude in May 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in film and sculpture. She spent the following year backpacking, primarily in South Asia, and was involved in a number of art projects.
Byron was a cast member on MythBusters from Season 1 until Season 12. Along with fellow cast members Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara they comprised what is commonly referred to as "The Build Team" or B Team. This Build Team worked with Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman to test the plausibility of various myths throughout their tenure with the show. She and the others also hosted their own segments. She became involved in the show after persistently showing up at Hyneman's M5 Industries workshop in a desire to get hired by his company. She and the other Build Team members were given a more prominent role beginning with the show's second season. Not having had a long history in show business, Byron at first found it difficult to act naturally with this more visible position but gradually became more accustomed to it.
During the second half of the 2009 season, Byron was on maternity leave and was temporarily replaced by Jessi Combs. From 2010-2011, Byron had her own show, Head Rush, on the Science Channel, geared toward science education and teens.
Byron has also hosted the 2010 and 2011 editions of Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships for the Science Channel. She and Belleci made a guest appearance on the October 3, 2012 episode of the Discovery series Sons of Guns. They test-fired some of the weapons in the Red Jacket shop and watched as the staff re-tested a myth previously busted by the Build Team: that a propane tank could explode if struck by a bullet. On August 21, 2014, it was announced that Byron, along with co-stars Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci, would be leaving MythBusters.
Byron and Belleci hosted coverage of Pumpkin Chunkin on the Science Channel from 2011 to 2014.
In 2015, Byron and Tory Belleci hosted Thrill Factor, a new show for the Travel Channel. In this show they visit and showcase thrill rides around the world and explore a little bit of science such as the effect of G forces on breathing, heart rate and other factors.
Byron, along with Imahara and Belleci, hosted the Netflix production White Rabbit Project, released on Netflix on December 9, 2016. The series focused on unusual aspects from history and pop culture.
Art and sculpting are important aspects of Byron's life, and she has claimed that she creates some form of art every day, stating: "I would go crazy if I didn't." Some of her preferred sculpting materials are polymer clay, various found objects, acrylic gouache, wood, and metals. Byron showcases some of her art on her personal website, and photography from her public exhibit debut Stray Doll in September 2004 is available at Anno Domini. She believes being an artist is a hard career to choose but has found inspiration in artists such as various SECCA award winners in the past. Preferring to make her audience think, she has had the following to say about her art:
I do portraits or I make sculptures exploring my cynical view of contemporary issues. Artists that over-explain their art always take away from my experience as a viewer. I try to let my viewer make their own message. Art becomes more personal if you let yourself become involved. I will always explain my motivations and themes if someone asks but I prefer to hear theirs.
Regarding how a background in art has been applied to her work with MythBusters, Byron made the following observation at the Dublin High School Engineering and Design Academy Open House in February 2012:
For me, having a background in art I think helped me immensely to become someone who really likes science because I started to approach it in a very MythBusters way. I really like just getting my hands dirty, and that’s the kind of science that I like to do, and I never realized how much I was going to like science until I started approaching it like art.
Following the success of MythBusters, Byron still makes sculptures, but she no longer displays them in exhibitions. She felt exposing her inner self through art exhibitions could conflict with the success of MythBusters, with visitors approaching her being more interested in talking about the show than her art. She has also expressed actually enjoying the freedom of working only for herself in this way.
Byron married artist Paul Urich in March 2006. They have one daughter, Stella Ruby (born June 28, 2009).
Byron has been an atheist since her grandmother told her a Buddhist girl in her second-grade class wouldn't go to heaven. She describes herself as a skeptic, a scientist and a pacifist. She is a pescetarian and was visibly uncomfortable whenever MythBusters experiments required the use of animal remains. She previously described herself as a vegetarian to avoid having to explain pescetarianism, but later said she does in fact eat fish. In the 2010 MythBusters episode "Cold Feet", she stated that she has a "very limited diet", and in the episode "Flu Fiction", she revealed that she has a fear of germs.