This was my previous ‘About me’ section from a year ago:
My name is Emma and I am a second year Physicist. I love reading and writing all kinds of things and have recently become interested in science journalism. I come from a little town called Bridgnorth in Shropshire (which is not in the north but yeah, OK fine is kind of close to Birmingham), and love living in London.
I play clarinet, want to use too many smiley-faces in semi-formal writing, and like to cook over-ambitious things. I’m not terribly sporty, but go running, climbing and play tennis with my boyfriend, who I should probably thank for making me do all these things!
In the future I plan to win Nobel Prizes in Physics and Literature and go skiing.
I’ve kept the picture…. 😛
In a year a lot of things have changed! I still want to go skiing and win those Nobel Prizes, but after realising just how much I hate most of the content of science in the newspapers, I definitely don’t want to be a science journalist anymore. The vast majority of daily science coverage in British newspapers really is atrocious—I am realising this even more now after looking in depth at news coverage for my extended essay.
I am still interested in science communication and writing though, and this year I have seen a whole lot of different ways science is communicated—from Scientific Murder Mysteries and festivals to science policy in the government. However, when I tell people that I want to do ‘science communication’ people generally give a puzzled ‘oh OK. What is that then?’
So to clarify to them haterz, here is a list of cool jobs you might not have thought about in science communication:
1) University Communications and Public Affairs
Here is the Imperial department. They help scientists at Imperial communicate to and deal with media inquiries, as well as writing press releases of research and making sure it gets noticed. They also run the Imperial Fringe festival. Jobs like this appeal to me because they require knowledge of both how science and the media work so that the two can be successfully brought together to make science more engaging and accessible to everyone.
The aim of the British Science Association is to make science part of our culture, not set apart from it, or only relevant to people who want to study and work in science. It does this in lots of ways—holding the British Science Festival, British Science week, running regional events and holding the CREST awards.
In fact I am volunteering with the London Branch of the BSA at the moment, which is so much fun—everyone there is amazingly creative and so full of ideas it is genuinely intimidating to sit around a table with them. 😛
3) Writing/Filming for Science Documentaries, TV shows, radio programs, podcasts, YouTube Science Shows…
I don’t have a specific link for this one, so I’ve kind of lumped a vast range of things together. I am hopefully working with a production company next year on researching ideas for a series on medical science innovations, which should give me a bit more insight into what opportunities are available for writers in this kind of area. Also I must write another blog on YouTube Science shows because I am obsessed with them—there are so many brilliant ones out there–have a search for Periodic Videos, Veritasium and SciShow, just for a start!
4) Astronomer for hire :0
This is a rogue one—I found the website of this guy the other day when I was looking for astronomy holidays (because I am cool). I defy anyone to think this isn’t up there with most awesome jobs ever, though it would be awkward if it was cloudy—as I am sure happens regularly.
5) Science Festivals
This is one that has been included in some of the previous jobs above, but as part of my Communicating Science course last year we met someone who worked on designing the science section of the Green Man Festival, and it sounded brilliantly interesting—finding science performers and designing and creating a whole science themed area.
6) Science think tanks
There are a whole range of science think tanks out there that generate policy ideas. Some do their own research and some look at the research that is already out there and try to collate it into something useful for policy. I really enjoy the idea of the second type—looking at literature reviews and trying to draw useful conclusions from the millions of scientific paper on a certain topic.
I suppose this is more communication between scientists and doctors, but it is vitally important, and it’s whole ethos is about being objective and open to everyone. This is an organisation that publishes systematic reviews of health research papers—it looks at hundreds of studies done in a certain area and tries to draw the best conclusions that it can. This is something that I really nerd out over, as it is the closest we can get to the ‘truth’ of an idea—especially in complicated fields that involve so many variables and real-life-messiness as medical research.
I’ve stopped at seven on this list, but there are obviously loads more: working in museums and other science exhibits, editing and science publishing, writing for magazines like the New Scientist etc etc.
On the point of the Cochrane Collaboration and getting the most accurate data out of medical trials—you might not realise that about half of all medical trial results are never published, not even to doctors or researchers. If you think this is a bit dubious, you might want to check out the All Trials Campaign. I wrote an article for Felix on this topic a while ago, but for some reason it isn’t up on their website… so maybe I will post it in another blog, although the ‘news’ factor of it is a bit out of date now!
That is kind of a tangent to what this blog was meant to be about, but anyway, I hope the list of jobs had a few you might not have thought about before. Also mince pies. Happy December!