00:09 The public is the ultimate funder of all, or a lot of, science research that goes on in the UK,
00:16 and it’s important also if you’re thinking about how to make the most out of the science that we do,
00:22 that people feel comfortable with what they’ve paid for, what’s being developed,
00:27 as they’re the customers for it in the end as well.
00:30 So whether that means people getting accurate, engaging information,
00:36 through the TV or in a newspaper article,
00:40 everybody, and the government included, has an interest in making sure that they do,
00:44 and the people, feel part of science and feel comfortable with it.
00:48 It’s actually how to work with people, how to promote best practice, to
00:54 encourage researchers to engage the public themselves.
00:57 It’s about taking all sorts of different arguments and different opinions that are coming in from people,
01:04 varieties of sources of evidence, pulling that all together and building that into something that a
01:09 minister or a senior politician can understand with not very much time to take it all in,
01:14 so you have to summarise it and be confident in your ability to pick out the right bits and decide what’s important,
01:21 and the fact that you feel, right in the middle of something important, is really rewarding.
01:27 You know, you can go home and read the news websites and
01:32 stuff that you’ve seen going on at work, or even stuff you’ve been personally involved in advising,
01:37 is now a news story.
01:43 I studied chemistry at the University of York, I specialised in natural resources and the environment.
01:51 Having spent a year in industry, I was clear that I didn’t want to just be a pair of hands in a lab
01:58 and I felt to get past that I needed to do a PhD, so I did a PhD at Imperial College, London.
02:07 At the same time, I was going to schools to give talks, give careers advice,
02:12 I took part, I was part of the Voice of Young Science Network that’s run by Sense About Science,
02:18 so I got quite involved in kind of debates and activities around science communication,
02:24 science policy, so it felt like a natural choice, that I could still use the things
02:32 I learned in my research and in my degree, but not actually being in the lab.
02:37 So when a job came up in BIS (Department for Business, Industry and Skills) that was
02:39 science communication policy it was just a perfect fit.
02:46 The biggest piece of advice I’d give to anyone studying chemistry is that it’s not just about the lab bench.
02:54 The idea that you’ll have a forty year career in the same company is something that probably doesn’t exist anymore.
03:03 Most people are going to be moving around, maybe you’ll have two or three careers in your life.
03:08 So just focusing on one set of practical skills or even just one set of technical knowledge,
03:16 doesn’t set you up perfectly for what is likely to be a very varied career.
03:22 The experience I had outside the lab, working with schools, teaching overseas,
03:31 doing interviews on BBC Watchdog and things like that.
03:35 They were all things that kind of added the skills to what I could offer to an employer
03:40 and I think that was really important for me when I realise that maybe a kind of normal research path
03:47 wasn’t right, I had other options, I had other skills to offer.
03:51 You’re a problem solver, you’re good with numbers, you can think creatively,
03:56 there are lots of things which are actually much more broadly applicable
04:00 and actually I think often when people are talking about the demand for
04:05 chemistry graduates, or the demand for graduates with a science and engineering background,
04:09 what they’re talking about are some of those other, broader skills.
04:16 I was supporting an expert group of fifteen people from the world of science and the media,
04:23 so they were very senior people in the BBC, editors of magazines,
04:30 very senior scientists, and then press officers as well,
04:34 we had a series of meetings over the course of about nine months
04:38 to essentially write a national plan for the UK about what we should do about science in the media.
04:44 It was incredible access to a whole load of very exciting, senior people.
04:50 A year later, the report that we wrote has been picked up, nearly all of the actions have been taken on,
04:57 either completed or ongoing and we can really start to see some of the impact of what
05:04 we decided was important.
05:06 I’m going to go and live in Bangalore from January onwards, working for the UK government
05:11 in the Science and Innovation Network.
05:15 It’s a network about promoting international collaboration in science
05:20 between the UK and other countries.
05:25 I can’t say that three years ago sat in the lab,
05:28 it would have even occurred to me that this was what I might be doing next.
05:31 But that’s how often things work out, you know, you pick up a new opportunity and then that leads to something else
05:38 and it’s incredibly exciting to be taking on a new challenge like that,
05:43 even if it wasn’t part of the plan not very long ago.
05:52 If you’re looking to join the Civil Service, one of the easier, not easier, ways but one of the obvious routes,
05:59 as somebody who’s got, say, a chemistry degree, is to join the Civil Service Fast Stream,
06:05 which is kind of the graduate entry programme for the Civil Service
06:10 where you get huge amounts of training and support
06:13 and the idea is that you move around every year to develop experience in a number of different jobs.