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Policy Researcher

Harriet Teare

My job is to look at the policy of government or other organisations that may affect science.

00:16 The work that I do as a policy researcher is specifically looking at science and research policy.

00:22 So, anything that the government does, or any other organisations do that might affect how

00:27 people can do science and research that I have to have an opinion on.

00:34 Cancer Research UK is an enormous organisation,

00:38 that carry out world-leading research.

00:42 We’re the largest independent funder of cancer research in the world,

00:46 and we contribute hugely to the medical research base in the UK.

00:52 The work that I do is more based on looking after the science and research base in terms of how the government is supporting it,

00:59 and how we are supporting it to make sure that our researchers have the best opportunity to do their work.

01:07 I was a scientist originally, I did an undergraduate degree in chemistry,

01:13 and then not satisfied with that I then stayed on to do a PhD in chemistry as well.

01:20 During my PhD I worked quite closely with a charity called Sense About Science,

01:26 who look at public engagement and public understanding of science,

01:30 and with them I did a couple of projects to try and encourage young researchers

01:35 to basically talk about their science more.

01:37 And when I was writing up my thesis I did an internship with them,

01:41 and so sort of gradually moved across from the science itself into

01:45 more communication and science policy.

01:48 and I then did a graduate placement with the Royal Society of Chemistry,

01:54 and I worked on a project for them that was more about health policy, so looking at

02:00 sort of drawing attention to the fact that chemistry contributes a great deal to healthcare,

02:04 because that’s not something that’s necessarily obvious to the general public or to other scientists.

02:09 So we were trying to encourage scientists to work together closely,

02:13 across discipline, to contribute to healthcare,

02:17 which then sort of drew me across to health policy.

02:22 As a policy researcher, part of the job are research skills, actually trying to

02:27 get to grips with whatever the topic is or whatever the argument is.

02:31 Talking to people, communicating with people, also talking to our researchers and to our scientists,

02:37 which, having done research myself, is very useful and it’s definitely a highlight of my job,

02:44 to talk to the scientists about their work, and then working closely with my colleagues.

02:52 I think there are a number of skills that are very important for my job.

02:56 Obviously the analytical side of things because of the research element,

02:59 so you are having to collect information on a particular topic and area,

03:05 and that does hark back to researching in a lab, it’s the same, a similar sort of idea.

03:11 But communication is a massive, massive part of the job,

03:16 either communicating with my colleagues or communicating with scientists about their work

03:21 and their research which can be quite technical

03:24 but also on the other side of things, talking to MPs

03:29 or to members of the public or to people that have no idea about science and so it’s quite a mixture of messages.

03:37 The key thing about being interested in science,

03:41 and sort of being interested in, I mean my background is obviously in chemistry,

03:45 is appreciating that there’s an awful lot of transferable skills that you’re building through

03:50 either just studying the subject in terms of problem-solving or if you go into research yourself

03:56 and appreciating that if you don’t want to stay in research there’s an awful lot

04:01 from that which can be very useful,

04:03 and although I don’t think I need a PhD to be doing my current role,

04:08 there are an awful lot of skills that I picked up during my research that I

04:13 think are invaluable for the work that I’m doing now.

04:18 I really enjoy the work that I’m, sort of, dealing with,

04:23 knowing that if we encourage the government to be more supportive of science and research,

04:29 that then has an opportunity to encourage cancer research, medical research in the UK.

04:35 That’s obviously a very important goal,

04:39 and also the variety, there’s always things to be pushing for and working for, a

04:45 huge range of people to be dealing with, so it’s a good variety.

“I enjoy the work, knowing that if we encourage the government to be more supportive of science & research that has an opportunity to encourage cancer & medical research in the UK.”

How did I get started?

After my undergraduate degree in chemistry I wanted to do more so I did my PhD as well.

Career progression

I have worked with science charities since doing my PhD, working on science communication and health policy projects before moving on to Cancer Research UK as a policy researcher.

Skills used

Data Handling and Research, Communication, IT and Technology, Logical Thinker, Team Worker, Organisation

“The thing about an interest in science is appreciating that there's a lot of transferable skills you're building through either studying the subject or if you go into research.”