Science communication has become more accepted in academic circles, allowing researchers to do both.
The career paths in science communication panel at the 2014 London Naturejobs Career Expo was chaired by the Naturejobs editor, Julie Gould, who was joined by Greg Foot (Freelance), Jonathan Sanderson (StoryCog), Steven Palmer (Cancer Research UK) and Celeste Biever (Chief editor for online Nature news & comment).
Greg Foot would have liked to have had a chance to experiment with it: could he have done both and use his research to build himself a science communication niche? But he thinks that science communication is now an “accepted and applauded thing to be done as training or to further science,” which means people don’t have to make the decision of “either or” anymore.
Celeste Biever is glad with the choice she made. “There’s plenty of scientists out there doing amazing things but it feels to me like there aren’t enough people trying to root those things out and tell people about them, criticise them…” And although she wouldn’t go back and take another path, she does find her background in science to be crucial to what she is doing.
Jonathan Sanderson reflects on what he could have done, but hasn’t, and where the communication efforts have made the biggest differences. The Ted Talks films show how communication can be done “without the intervention of a major broadcaster… it’s an example of not quite science communication, but something close.” He also refers to Mine Craft and the Makers community, and how they’ve shaped they way may technologists and scientists communicate with the public. Looking back, Anderson thinks that the action has been in technology, rather than in science, so if anything, he regrets not getting involved in that more.
Other Q&A videos from science communication panel at the Naturejobs Career Expo, London 2014:
And for some more videos on careers in academia: