By Rachel Burnett, Education and Public Engagement Officer, Biochemical Society
We have interviewed our panel of expert judges for the Science Communication Competition series, to find out more about their career paths into science communication, and tips for those just starting out in this area. This post is by Professor Kay Yeoman, Professor of Science Communication at the University of East Anglia.
- What did you study at University and why did you choose to study it?
I studied a four year Applied Biology course, which included a year in industry. I worked at AstraZeneca, and the project I was involved with was the investigation of biological control agents of fungal wheat diseases. My PhD was also applied, and I developed fermentation media from agricultural waste materials.
- How did you get into science communication?
I have always enjoyed teaching, and I did a lot of demonstrating when I was a post graduate student. When I became a post-doc I had the opportunity to apply for BBSRC funds to run school engagement projects. I started with going into primary schools and getting them to culture the bacterial on their hands.
- What type of science communication do you do?
I do all sorts of activity from running extracurricular science clubs to week-long summer schools. I also organise 6th form conferences and run research projects with schools.
- Who do you work with in your role as a science communicator?
I work with colleagues form a variety of disciplines, and they include other scientists, but also teachers in schools, as well as other science communicators.
- What do you love about science communication?
The energy and enthusiasm from the pupils! It’s the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a small difference in their perception of science as well as working with a wide variety of different people.
- What don’t you love about science communication?
The constant rounds of applications for funding!
- What has been your favourite science communication project?
I led a group of year 9 pupils who designed a bacterial caffeine sensor as part of a synthetic biology research project.
- What are the potential next steps from your current role?
I am Professor of Science Communication, so I have reached quite a high level within my own university, but I would like to have a national role in the future.
- Any tips for people wishing to enter your career area?
If you want to do science communication, it’s a very good idea to have at least a first degree in science. You have to like people and you need a passion for communicating what you do. Never pass up any opportunity which comes your way!
More ‘Science communicators in the spotlight’ to follow soon, as part of our Science Communication Competition series!