From academia to medical writing, editing, policy, further research and a swap from communications to a PhD in later life.
In 2015, Naturejobs is celebrating mobility in science, where researchers are changing labs, moving countries or transitioning into something completely different. In January 2014, all of these things hapenned. Below, we’ve selected just a handful of job changes to give you a flavour of the variety of things you can do with a science degree.
Viviane Callier was a postdoctoral fellow from 2011-2013. In late 2013, she transitioned to a technical writing position for a consulting company in the Washington DC area. In her new role as a Scientific Communications Editor at the National Cancer Institute, which she started in January 2015, her main challenges are the more frequent and stricter deadlines. But during the transition, it was the leap into the unknown, leaving friends behind and feeling like “I had to start all over from scratch,” that were the three biggest challenges.
Lucy Craggs held a postdoctoral research at the University of Newcastle, where she was working in the field of neuroscience. The decision to leave academia was difficult, but difficult supervisory relationships, feeling undervalued and realising that if she wanted to stay in academia she would need to relocate, meant that it was the right thing to do. In January 2015 she started working as a medical writer for MediTech Media, part of the Nucleus Group of companies, focussing on the communication of the drug discovery process.
Melina Georgousakis was a Research Officer completing her first postdoc researching novel vaccines against the bacterium group A streptococcus at The Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Australia. A lack of faith in academia and a realisation that she had skills that could be useful outside of the lab meant that Georgousakis decided it was time to leave academia. Although the feeling of “failure” made the process difficult, it didn’t stop her from pursuing her new role as senior research officer in the Policy Support team at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance in Australia. Here she reviews and appraises evidence on vaccine preventable diseases and vaccines to inform recommendations for national immunisation policy.
Cathy Winterton was the communications officer from 2011-2014 at SAMS, the Scottish Association for Marine Science, near Oban on the west coast of Scotland. This January, after working as a professional for 20 years, she started her PhD at the same palce, which is funded by MASTS, the Marine Alliance for Science &Technology for Scotland. The most challenging part of making the decision was convincing her husband that it was a good idea to do a aprt-time PhD over 5 years, but the most challenging part of the PhD, however, is accepting (un-willingly) that to the other PhD students, she’s “middle-aged”.
Erin Lafferty was a PhD Candidate in the Division of Experimental Medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, which she defended in June 2014. She studied the interaction between a host and a pathogen during an infection, with a focus on viral infections. In November 2014 she started working as a Research Fellow in Infectious Disease Modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she works on a model that examines/predicts long-term health equality in the UK population related to uptake of the HPV vaccine. She made the decision to leave academia because the lab work didn’t make her happy, but she was concerned that she had “pigeon-holed” herself in to one area and that she wouldn’t be employable in any other field. Obviously, this isn’t the case!
A clear message that we can take away from these is that they’ve all taken control of their own careers: by evaluating what they disliked about their previous jobs, thinking about what they want to do in their next role and going after it! And age doesn’t come into it either, as Catherine Winterton demonstrated by starting a PhD after 20 years as a professional.
Congratulations to all these women and best of luck in your new endeavours!
We also want to say a huge congratulations to everyone else that has started a new job in January 2015. It’s not easy, trying something new. But if you’ve spent time evaluating your current situation, and you decide you’re not happy, then there is no time like the present to go for something new.
We’ve put together a Storify capturing all the #ScientistOnTheMove conversations from January 2015. If you’re starting a new science-related job in February 2015, why not let us know? Join the conversation on Twitter with the tag #ScientistOnTheMove.