DAS Monthly Employability Seminar: Finding Funding in STEM

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Following the March Department of Applied Sciences Monthly Employability seminar, Sophie, one of our writers, has excellently summarised and captured the essence of the talk delivered. If you are in search for or are suspecting you may need funding in the future, this article is definitely for you. Enjoy and be enriched as you read.

An essential part

Funding. The dreaded F word in the world of science and the topic of the March Monthly Employability Seminar. This talk was hosted by Dr David Fernandez – a primatologist and conservation biologist, and Dr Alex Greenhough – a cancer biologist and principal investigator on projects funded by a number of institutions, as well as being a frequent grant reviewer himself. Both lecturers were well versed in what it takes to be awarded funding, having both received grants from a vast number of various sources.

Places to start

Dr Fernandez started off the talk by explaining the different types of funding available from charities, government bodies and international organisations having various money pots. He then listed the steps for a successful proposal, which, as someone who loves writing lists, is very useful for, and of which I will keep for, any future applications (so that I can satisfyingly tick each section off one-by-one).

Writing a funding bid is all about selling your story. You are probably, and hopefully, extremely passionate about your research proposal and this is more than likely the biggest setback you are facing in launching your project. Use your passion to convince the organisation that this project is exciting, innovative and needed.

Photo by Shane from unsplash.

Things you need

You must have a clearly defined goal that is achievable so funders can easily understand what you intend for this project to accomplish. In addition to this, there needs to be a consistent message throughout; keep your idea simple and strong – don’t let them forget what the project is about.

You also need to demonstrate your ability to prove you can actually conduct the work. Do you have experience on this topic or will you be bringing in collaborators who do? Having experts involved reassures funders that you will be able to achieve what you set out to do. Therefore, if you are just starting out in the research world, using someone who already has a name for themselves will most likely provide you with an advantage. Your budget also needs to be feasible and realistic; make sure to check what can and can’t be covered by the funding and that you can justify every expense you deem as being necessary (you may want to get some insight on this from those who have had experience with funding before).

The final few stages bring the whole bid together by making sure your writing is clear, can be understood by non-experts of this topic, and ensure that you have adhered to the grant application guidelines. This applies even to things that may seem trivial, such as using a specific font size, layout etc. Funding is almost always highly competitive and if you can’t follow instructions, you probably won’t get the funding (first impressions of your application really do matter!). Finally, linking back to the first point, be convincing. You understand why your project is one of the most incredible things in the world, but they don’t, so tell them.

Photo by Clay Banks from unsplash.

A smart approach

Both Dr Fernandez and Dr Greenhough expressed other important factors that are required for a successful funding campaign. One examples of this is finding the right funding body. This may seem obvious, but often projects do not meet all of the funding requirements and so this will waste yours, and the reviewer’s time.

The second top tip was about writing the proposal. These things, like everything in science, take a lot of time. Everything mentioned in your bid has to have a purpose and be completely accurate. There are questions you need to ask yourself: have you met their criteria? Are there any spelling or grammatical errors? Is your proposal reasonable, realistic, and correct? Dr Greenhough reiterated all of these points in his top tips for getting funding and provided us with an insight into how the grants are assessed and why they fail. These were simple, yet crucial, things such as checking if the project has already been done or assessing whether it is unrealistic – such as when someone asked for too little money for their project!

As an undergraduate looking for a Master’s degree, information like this is invaluable. Unfortunately, from personal experience I have found it to be near impossible to obtain funding for a Master’s project. Despite this, I know there will be many times in my life where I will have to spend my evenings calculating costs and filling out forms, trying to persuade people that my project is a worthy investment.

Photo by Andrew Neel from unsplash.

Final thoughts

Finding funding is a long, tedious and potentially frustrating experience. Dr Greenhough touched on the fact that you will get rejections, everyone does, but with everything in life, you have to keep persevering. This is the most important lesson I took away from the talk. Having the structure to write a funding bid is extremely important, but being prepared for reality and rejection is not only necessary, but reassuring to know it’s just an extra hurdle you have to face.

Finally, thank you to David and Alex for taking the time to share their insider knowledge, and to the Department of Applied Sciences for organising such a useful talk.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Sophie Harris

Edited by Jessica Griffith

Sophie Harris


Sophie is in her third and final year at the University of the West of England studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science. She is the creator of Peculiar Pangolins, a blog dedicated to all things pangolins related and has been invited to Uganda to see Chester Zoo’s Giant Ground Pangolin project.

Whilst on a six-month internship monitoring wildlife on a game reserve in South Africa, she fell in love with the world’s most trafficked mammal, the pangolin. After being fortunate enough to see one in the wild, she decided to apply to university, to help these illusive creatures. She was also the creator and President of the Wildlife & Environment Society in my first and second years.

In Sophie’s spare time she can be found in nature reserves, mostly looking for birds to add to her list, or climbing, either indoors or out, depending on the weather.

Note from the editor: Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope you feel more informed and assured that whilst the journey to obtaining funding in launch of your project can often take some time, with perseverance, you can successfully secure funding and lift your project off the ground.

As always, we welcome new contributions to our blog, whether it’s by sending us an article or joining our team of writers. If you are interested, please do get in touch with us by emailing ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Until next time, take care and enjoy your summer!

Breaking the Stereotype of an Entrepreneur

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If you’ve ever been curious about entrepreneurship or even wondered how to get started, this is the article for you! Izzy Rodriguez, one of our writers, has written an excellent summary of the key ingredients she needed and the steps she took to running her own business as an entrepreneur. We hope you enjoy the read!

Introduction

To me, a year ago, becoming an entrepreneur sounded like something you would do later in life, with considerable investments and a lot of knowledge on how to run a business. Little did I know that, one year later, I would be running my own business during university – “winging it” and learning as I go. Despite the stereotypes, business, for example, does not require middle-aged men in suits with a company car to be working ‘9-5’ in an office, but creating a profit from a single ‘side hustle’ – that’s it.

Drive and passion

Drive and passion are the two ingredients, in my opinion, required to ensure a business is successful. In my case, I wanted to educate people, young women in particular, on good nutrition and how to lose body fat sustainably.

With the rise of social media, misinformation spreads like wildfire. This happens especially in diet culture, alongside trends recommending new supplements, “detoxes”, and fitness regimes almost every second. Having become a victim of such trends throughout my teens, I felt resentment towards diet culture, which heavily impacts people’s lives and health who don’t possess the knowledge to know what is true and what is not. I decided I wanted to make a positive change and start producing educational content to try and curb the hidden epidemic of eating disorders.

Knowledge

Firstly, I needed a credible qualification and to be educated on evidence-based nutrition. Fortunately, I still had a job during lockdown and was able to save up enough money to pay for an online course.

With the extra time that resulted from the pandemic, I completed an accredited level 4 diploma in nutrition and weight-loss management and became an online nutrition coach. Whilst completing this course, I built up a social media following by posting nutrition facts, recipes and workouts on Instagram. This is where I learnt how powerful social media really was – with its algorithms favouring misinformation and diet trends, gaining followers was a slow, but steady process. 

Learning and adapting

Understanding what does and doesn’t work and why is crucial for any business. In my case, I had to learn how people liked information to be presented, what content was popular and what was not. Followers tended to love my recipes but not my workouts, so I stopped posting workouts. Controversial nutrition videos tended to be more popular than food pictures, so I stopped posting food pictures. The cycle is a never-ending process and the ability to adapt, accept failures and create solutions is not easy, but incredibly important for progress.

Asking favours 

During this process, the biggest thing I’ve learned is not being afraid of asking for help or favours when you need it. Having contacts skilled in areas you are not will help you in building a business.

I was lucky enough to have a friend who designed my logo for free – so I gave him some nutrition advice and recipes in return. I also had a friend whose parents own a gym; I asked them if I could set up an online nutrition course for beginners in cooperation with them. They warmly welcomed the idea (still being developed) and also gave me some valuable business advice. If you ask nicely, most people are willing to help!

Profit


The great thing about this kind of online business is that the costs are low. I also learnt that I didn’t need hundreds of thousands of followers to monetize my business, but just a few who trusted me. Afterall, I can only balance university with a maximum of four clients at a time; no number of followers would change this.

I started to think about how I could make my knowledge and services accessible to more people without giving up more of my time and decided to set up an engaging online course where multiple people could learn about nutrition and ask questions simultaneously. By doing this, I could still dedicate the same number of hours a month, but reach more people and subsequently yield a larger profit. ‘Work smarter, not harder’. 

Time

The phrase “little and often” resonates with me. It’s very easy to dedicate a lot of time to your business in a rush of excitement, but to then burn out a few weeks later.

Try assigning yourself short but regular slots a week to focus on your business idea. With time, it will build up into something far more robust than you could have imagined originally. Additionally, remember you can work when it suits you best. If you work better in the evening, then do it as you no longer need to conform to the regular 9-5 system, allowing it to coincide with university or your other commitments.

Final thoughts

If you have an idea that you’re passionate about and can dedicate some time towards it, this is your sign to do it. Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have to be about making millions, but just generating an income from doing something you love. It might not be easy, but if it has the potential to improve people’s quality of life – including yours, then, in my opinion, it’s worth it.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Izzy Rodriguez

Edited by Jessica Griffith

Izzy Rodriguez

Isabela (Izzy) Rodriguez is currently in her 3rd year at UWE Bristol studying Biomedical Science. She intends to study post-graduate medicine after her degree to eventually become a doctor.

Last year, she set up an online nutrition coaching business which has become very rewarding; she also loves the perks of being self-employed as it fits around university life very easily. Izzy hopes her story of setting up a business during the pandemic will inspire others to do so aswell as a result. She is a big believer in being ambitious and that you can do anything you put your mind to.

In her free time, she enjoys triathlon training and is part of the UWE athletics and cross-country club, and the cycling club which she finds to be a great stress reliever.

From the editor: Wow! It’s really refreshing to hear another person’s perspective on entrepreneurship. It’s also great to see how productive some people have been during lockdown and encouraging that you can still accomplish things, even during a global pandemic. We hope you enjoyed the read as much as we did!

We always welcome new contributions and look forward to new additions to our team, so please do get in touch if you’re interested. To reach us, please email ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Until next time, keep well and safe.

References:

Photo of ‘profit’: https://www.callcentrehelper.com/cost-to-profit-centre-126838.htm

Photo of with ‘clock’: https://www.freepik.com/premium-vector/flexible-working-hours-work-life-balance-focus-time-management_11412207.htm

What Does Entrepreneurship Mean to You?

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In her first article on this blog platform, Isobel Gordon has brilliantly summarised the Department of Applied Sciences (DAS) February Monthly Employability Seminar, featuring one of our very own writers, Joseph Myatt. If you’re intrigued about entrepreneurship and how this relates to you, keep on reading!

Every Sector & Entrepreneurship

The February DAS Monthly Employability Seminar, ‘An Introduction to Enterprise’, was hosted by Callum Usher-Dodd, an enterprise consultant and lecturer at UWE and Joseph Myatt, a second-year biomedical science student and young entrepreneur.

You don’t need to be working in business or enterprise in order to be an entrepreneur. Callum defines entrepreneurship as anything that involves getting an idea, business or project off the ground, and he made it clear that any field of work or any university degree can incorporate a certain level of entrepreneurial activity. He also explained that the skills you gain from enterprise can be beneficial to any future job, in any work type; making the point that employers are always looking for people who can think and behave like an entrepreneur, even if it’s not the main part of the job.

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) is trying to ensure that enterprise can be incorporated into all areas of the University and be available to students from all the various degree courses. This is being done in the hope that by 2030, it will evolve into a world-leading enterprise institution. As a science student, I would have never considered myself able to be an entrepreneur, however, Callum makes it clear that no matter who you are, what you’re doing or where you want to go, the skills you can gain from enterprise will always be beneficial to you.

Photo by Clark Tibbs from unsplash.

What do you see?

A simple activity was carried out within the meeting, whereby the listeners were asked to draw what they saw when they thought of an entrepreneur. When asked what they had drawn, many students stated their picture included things like lots of money, businesses suits and IT equipment. Most of the students also admitted that they had drawn a man.

I too fell into this trap and straightaway envisioned the typical billionaire businessmen such as Elon Musk (Chief Executive Officer of Tesla Motors) and Mark Zuckerberg (Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Facebook). However, this rich businessman image is just what the media has portrayed the typical entrepreneur to look like; this doesn’t mean this is what you have to be in order to be one.

One stereotypical image of entrepreneurs that needs to change, is that they are normally associated with men! History has shown us that women are just as capable of entrepreneurial activity, it’s just less well-known and talked about. Marie Curie, for example, managed to integrate the world of science and business into her work with radioactivity. More recently, Nina Tandon, another female scientist, is one of the Co- Founders of EpiBone, a biomedical engineering company that creates bone tissue from patients stem cells for bone grafts. Both of these women are entrepreneurs, yet when we think of the word ‘enterprise’, we don’t associate it with them.

Photo by KOBU Agency from unsplash.

A new perspective?

Entrepreneurship isn’t all about making money and building big businesses. What it’s really about is adding value to other people’s lives and making a difference! One UWE student that has demonstrated this and shown that it’s possible to be a scientist, as well as an entrepreneur, is Joseph Myatt. Whilst studying a biomedical degree, he has founded a site called WRENt, an online site with an aim to make the whole house renting process for students just that little bit simpler.

Joseph admits that he wouldn’t have been able to have achieve the founding of WRENt, if it hadn’t been for the support that UWE offers to young entrepreneurs. In 2020, Joseph was one of the few winners of the UWE Summer Enterprise Scholarship, which offered students who would win, £1,000 to bring their business or project idea to life. Despite the experience of this scholarship being virtual for Joseph, due to the pandemic, he still valued the whole experience and enjoyed being part of a community of like-minded people who he described at ‘doers’. Joseph commented that one the most valuable aspects of the programme was the mentorship that you gain from the staff at the university, as he believes ‘in the early stages, mentorship is more valuable than the money!”.

This scholarship is an amazing opportunity and is open to all students on any course and the project or idea that you pitch, can be related to anything you are passionate about. The skills that you obtain from the summer internship, will set you in good stead for any graduate job or future career you may embark on. If you feel that this is something that you would want to be involved in, or just want to find out some more information, check it out on the UWE webpage.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes from unsplash.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Isobel Gordon

Edited by Jessica Griffith

Isobel Gordon

My name is Izzy Gordon and I am a final year Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science Student at UWE Bristol. I am currently in the process of finishing my final year research project, studying the accumulation and distribution of microplastic pollution along the South coast of the UK. Having grown up in this part of the UK, I have spent most of my life either in or by the water, and have developed a real passion for marine conservation and ocean science as a result.

This September, I hope to continue my education here at UWE, by studying a Masters in Science Communication. From this masters degree, I hope to gain the skills and knowledge to be able to educate and increase awareness surrounding the problems the marine environment currently faces. I also hope to inspire people to want to make changes that will benefit our ocean. In the future, I would love to be able to influence more young people to consider marine conservation as a possible career, and to help people appreciate just how important this environment is.

From the editor: Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope it has widened your perspective on the influence of entrepreneurship in every sector. We also hope it has sparked some inspiration in you, whether to become a full-time entrepreneur or bring entrepreneurship into your own chosen career pathway.

As always, we are keen to have more writers/ contributions, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Enjoy the rest of the week and month!

Take care and stay safe.

Up and Beyond the Labs | From UWE to Space

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Piotr has written yet another excellent article to explore another dimension of science; space. Many scientists dream of doing things on Earth, but if you are interested in expanding your scope and exploring your curiosity, have a read of this article as you begin your scientific journey in space.

The beginning

Biology and Space. Here we go! Launching in 3…2…1…

There is a wide array of disciplines and research areas within biological sciences, and, naturally, there are plenty of career paths that concern themselves with everything earthly. However, there is also yet another path, one that can lead you closer to space and to what may be waiting beyond our habitable planet. Like myself, you may be wondering how one gets from a biology-related course to working in astrobiology or for European Space Agency. Therefore, I will share what I have gleaned from attending January’s Employability Event, From UWE to Space, where Dr Nicol Caplin, Deep Space Exploration Scientist at ESA, shared her own experience in her science journey.

Photo by Richard Gatley from unsplash.

Biology and Space?

A few years ago, I learned about astrobiology for the first time. Any scientist that was described as an astrobiologist appeared to me as some sort of mistic who somehow managed to obtain the title and knowledge that seemed to be imparted within. At the time, I heard little about the discipline, yet I found it intriguing, and I have checked if there is any university offering an undergraduate course in it, yet to no avail. Nowadays, there are still very few dedicated astrobiology courses. However, there are several fascinating PhD programs across the globe. I sometimes happen to mention that I would like to work as an astrobiologist to my friends or family, and what I sometimes hear back spans from ‘Oh, you would like to meet and talk with aliens?’ to my father enquiring about ‘the alien base on the dark side of the moon’ of which he has been informed of its existence by scientists on one of those pseudoscientific documentary series one can find on TV. I then go on to explain what it is that I would most likely do, and a whole new interesting conversation takes place.

Photo by Donald Giannatti form unsplash.

Branching out in science

Astrobiology is a multidisciplinary scientific field and whether you study biological sciences, astronomy, chemistry, or geology, you may be able to find your own niche in this area of work. Nicol studied Environmental Sciences, taking particular interest in plants and radioactivity, and little she knew, she would end up working for European Space Agency (ESA). Unknowingly at the time, certain steps she undertook, enabled her to pursue that path.

Whether you have already set your eyes on the sky and what is beyond, or you’re still searching for what you want from your life and career, I think that Nicol could not stress enough the benefit of making the best of the time you have to complete your degree. Internships were one of the recommendations she made as an option during summertime, as they provided her with invaluable experience. Being interested in plant-related science, she completed an internship with Soil Association, an organic farming charity, in her first year and then with Plant Impact, an agrochemical company in the second year. Another option you might like to consider for your summer is The Summer Scheme, an opportunity to participate in an 8 week summer internship. Not only it will give you a chance to build your skill and confidence, but it is also a paid internship.

Nicol also mentioned another aspect of her career, namely science communication. When studying her PhD, she has decided to pick the Science Communication module, which is great in relation to astrobiology – astrobiology is often a controversial topic, quite complex in its nature and the ability to deliver it to the general public is especially important. Nicol mentioned exciting projects she partook in, among others, Q&A video for school children- Space Rocks, which involved science communication efforts in association with ESA, employing artists and figures from media; and Star Trek convention, where she delivered a presentation about ESA and astrobiology.

Photo by Patrick T’Kindt from unsplash.

Your journey

When it comes to getting your first experience working with European Space Agency (ESA), there are internship opportunities you can read about on ESA’s website, such as ESA Young Graduate Trainees or National Traineeships. However, bear in mind that due to their competitive nature, you may have higher chances to get your spot having completed or nearing completion of a Master’s degree. I do like to think that it is not a rule that is set in stone, and that if there is a brilliant enough mind, they will be able to land their place at such an internship even earlier. Nonetheless, it is certainly an option to consider later as an undergraduate student or aspiring professional.

I have reached out to Nicol after the talk, and she got back to me with a few more tips, putting some of my worries to rest. When starting a degree, especially through a Foundation Year, the prospect of completing it seems dauntingly distant. Nicol reassured me by saying that she herself began her studies with Foundation Year, and similarly to myself, was first in her family to access Higher Education. Being proactive and searching for opportunities throughout the whole studying period will likely yield benefits to those who invest their time and energy.

Photo by Greg Rakozy from unsplash.

Final Thoughts

Considering that astrobiology is so broad, getting experience in many areas will allow you to later put the transferable skills you have gained to your advantage and improve your standings in recruiters’ eyes. Even if you do something that seems unrelated to astrobiology itself, like joining carting or poetry club, or a blogging team, you may still gain skills that could be translated into future roles, such as team working, team management, writing and presentation skills, etc. There are also societies and clubs outside of university that may align with your interests and which you may wish to join, and they are all but an online search away.

If you find yourself not knowing much about astrobiology, or you know someone who is eager to know more, have a look at the following astrobiology primer from NASA: https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/education/primer/ . It outlines current pursuits within the field and is directed at a young scientist who may be interested in this fascinating aspect of science.

Thank you for reading.

Written by Piotr Sordyl

Hello, my name is Piotr (I can assure you it is not as difficult to pronounce as it may seem) and I am a mature, international student on Foundation Year Biological Sciences course. I am originally from Poland, however, Bristol has been my home for over 7 years now (which sometimes makes me stagger when asked where I am from).


I take great pleasure in weaving tales, and so I have been writing and working on ideas for novels. I am interested in neuroscience, zoology, astrobiology, planetary science, to name a few and I intend to use the knowledge gained through my studies to write books, popularizing it to a wider audience.


I run roleplay games sessions for my friends, collaboratively telling stories that become alive in our shared imagination. I am also an aspiring violinist, learning how to take my first steps.

From the editors: Thank your taking the time to read this excellent article from Piotr, a great summary of one of the DAS Monthly Employability seminars. We hope this has piqued your curiosity and expanded your awareness of how much you can do in the sciences.

Please do share with those you think need some inspiration and reach out to us if you would like to share one of your interest on this blog platform. You can get in touch with us via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk and also connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Enjoy your Easter holiday and see you next time!

Navigating a Career in Science Communication

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Andy Ridgway, a Senior Lecturer and member of the Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol, delivered the last Monthly Employability Seminar, titled ‘Navigating a Career in Science Communication’ before the closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He has previously written for publications such as the BBC Focus magazine and New Scientist. This article is a summary of the session written by Joseph Myatt, a second year Biological Science student at UWE Bristol. 

The workshop demonstrated Andy’s appreciation for Science Communication, including the importance of approaching ideas creatively in order to translate the abstract science into everyday language. His passion for writing was also evident in that he continues to work as a freelance journalist, writing for various science publications in addition to his role as a Senior lecturer at UWE Bristol. This continued engagement with journalism has helped him to stay in touch with his interests as well as supporting student development. 

Andy presented himself as a true advocate for rethinking traditional ideas and embracing forward-thinking journalism; from his expressions, he showed a strong, clear moral compass. Andy also explained the importance of referring to reliable resources and making sure that, as a journalist, you communicate clearly to your audience but still keep the essence of the study you are referring to.  

We are all living in the age of communication. The internet, reservoir for the greatest collection of texts, data and ideas the world has borne witness to. Enabling the access to information 25 years ago only a library or professor would have been able to provide. Connecting populations, communities and individuals with previously unknown ideas. Communication of information is a cornerstone of civilisation. As Scientists and Theologians discover and hypothesise more about the universe around us, a greater importance falls on the shoulders of those who communicate these complex ideas to us.

The United Kingdom has a proud and nurtured history of communicating discoveries in the sciences. Michael Faraday, for example, was a key pioneering scientist who initiated the Christmas lectures at the Royal Institute, London in 1825, primarily to inspire children but also to communicate his research. Today, we have the internet, magazines, social media and television, which allows more people than ever before to access information online.  

‘Science isn’t finished until it’s communicated.’

Mark Walport

Science Communication has an impact on all members of society, whether it is by means of an interesting newspaper article or by providing essential information for decision makers of government policy. Science communicators, working for magazines, museums and in television, play key roles in the sciences, such as translating fresh science journals into an article in a different format that caters to the general public (i.e. non-scientists). They often take the notoriously difficult to understand scientific jargon, strip it back to the essential ideas and reconfigure, and present the information in a simple yet powerful and meaningful way.  I’m sure many of us in the sciences at university watched Bill Nye, Brian Cox or Carl Sagan when we were in school and nudged us towards inquiry into the sciences.

One of the key issues that has been widely debated in this field is poor journalism. One example mentioned by Andy was the controversial, although disproven, publication and reporting of a link (i.e. association) between the Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. The incorrect published data still has negative far-reaching effects despite being disproven. This reinforced Andy’s point that as Science Communicators, our work should be based on sound and statistically significant research as there can be unintended consequences, in this case being people not taking the vaccine, from the published work. Many of us would agree that journalism should therefore be viewed with an open mind, seeing both the good and bad, potential positive and negative consequences whilst ensuring we produce sound articles that benefit society. 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

In our journey through education, it is difficult to know what we want to do and our academic adventure often leads to unexpected destinations. Andy is a prime example of this. After a degree in Biology and Economics, he started writing for the BBC Focus magazine and described his experience with this magazine as his ‘most enjoyable work’. As students, we are given many options to choose from, which can become a problem where fear of choosing the wrong pathway can arise. However, Andy’s story can re-assure many people, especially students, that you will eventually find your way onto the right path. The key is to keep pursuing, reflecting and persistently aiming to obtain the career you desire. 

‘You’ll be fine. Feeling unsure and lost is part of your path. Don’t avoid it. See what those feelings are showing you and use it. Take a deep breath. You’ll be okay. Even if you don’t feel okay all the time.’

Louis C.K.

If you are considering a career in Science Communication or interested in this topic, these are the key messages that Andy shared from his session: 

  • Start your own blog. This can help you develop communication skills as well as build yourself a profile. Future employers will see this and will hopefully be impressed by it! For instance, your blog could be about Science; perhaps you could report on some of the latest science news. It could also be related to a completely different interest you have, e.g. baking, swimming, music or anything else. There is always a way to ‘sciencify’ any topic and put your own spin on it to keep you and your viewers interested. 
  • Go on a Placement year or Summer Internship. Going on a placement can be a great way to get experience in Science Communication and work out whether it is for you. Contact a Science Centre, Website, Podcast etc. and see if you can spend some time learning and gaining experience  from them. It could be only for a week, or even just a few days; a little exposure can give you a feel for what that type of work it is and whether it is for you! 

NB: Internship opportunities available at UWE Bristol through the UWE Internship Scheme (Follow this link for details)

  • Further Study. Doing a short course or further studies could also help advance your career pathway in Science Communication. There are several short courses in Science Communication and you also have the option of postgraduate study, such as an MSc, MRes or a PhD at UWE. These courses will help you develop the skills you need and the opportunities to start forming the connections in this industry. 

‘Ask yourself if what you’re doing today will get you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.’

Anonymous

Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed this article. 

Written by Joseph Myatt, Biological Science  (See profile on LinkedIn)  

Article edited by Dr Emmanuel Adukwu and Jessica Griffith 


From the editors: We are pleased to receive our first article written by an undergraduate student and we welcome contributions from staff, students and anyone who would like to contribute to our content about careers in the Sciences and STEM get in touch via email – ScienceFutures@uwe.ac.uk . You can also Connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter

Science Futures 2020 – Promoting Diverse Careers in the Sciences

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Happy new year and welcome to the Department of Applied Science Employability Blog. Our first article was on Sandwich Placements and Internships written by our Associate editor and current MSc Public Health student Jessica Griffith and published in December. On Wednesday, 22nd January 2020 the annual Science Futures fair will be taking place at UWE Bristol, Exhibition and Conference Centre, Frenchay Campus. This is an incredible event and one of the largest careers and employability events in the UK particularly in the applied sciences field.

Who is it for?

The event is open to all undergraduate, masters, PhD and postdoctoral researchers in the department, as well as graduates seeking further careers support. This year, Science Futures will also see students attend from other colleges and Universities. We are expecting students from Weston College, Bath Spa University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and possibly from other institutions. This offers opportunity for networking, developing new friendships and learning from your peers.

Why Science futures?

Science Futures is such an important event in the calendar for students and the department and is at the heart of the student journey. Understanding the diverse career pathways that you can explore as a student is important in decision making whether to continue or change career choices. The opportunity to meet and interact with employers is also very useful to provide a window into what the world of work is really like.

As an undergraduate student, I did not have anything like the Science Futures fair and the closest science recruitment event I remember was the National Recruitment Fairs which were often far to travel to and not subject or field specific. At UWE Bristol, we have the annual Meet the Employers fair every October however Science futures is developed with the field of Applied/Life/Bio Sciences in mind.

What to expect at Science Futures 2020?

The new iteration of the Science Futures fair is designed to enable 1-1 interaction between our students and staff with employers, provide career advice through panel discussions, provide opportunities for networking between current students and alumni and promotion of postgraduate programmes and conversion courses (for students looking to move away from the basic sciences into other fields).

I am really looking forward to our annual Science Futures event this week. It is great to meet so many of our alumni, working for great organisations and companies  who come back to UWE to support our event and they give great advice to our students.
Dr Lyn Newton, Head of Department (Department of Applied Sciences)

Some of the programmes we have exhibiting this year include

MSc Biomedical Science

MSc Forensic Science

MSc Advanced Wildlife Conservation in Practice

MRes Applied Science

MSc Public Health

MSc Environmental Health

MSc Physician Associate Studies

MSc Rehabilitation

Secondary Science PGCE

You can see details of each of the programmes and the entry criteria. You will also get the chance to meet the programme leaders at the event.

Specifically, you will benefit from the following;

  • Expert speakers from different applied science related fields including a lot of our alumni who have excelled in different fields in Science and beyond the Sciences
  • Careers fair with employers and professional societies
  • Wall of work highlighting live opportunities you can apply for

In addition, for students who have attended my professional development workshops e.g. LinkedIn and others, you would remember the discussions about joining a professional society. Being a member of a professional society is very important for all students in the sciences and if you look at the DAS Employability programme (2019-2020) on Blackboard, we have provided a list of suggested professional organisations you could join, with many offering FREE memberships. By the way, many offer fantastic benefits such as grants for conferences, funding for public engagement events, PhD studentships etc.

How can you get the most from the Science futures programme?

  • Use the Career Fair Plus app (Identify the exhibitors and employers you’d like to network with.
  • Be Punctual (arrive on time), and dress smartly (you never know who you might be speaking to on the day)
  • Network (engage) with the exhibitors and speakers
  • Prepare questions you would like to ask the panelists
  • Have digital/physical copies of your most recent CV and be ready to share CV with exhibitors, speakers and guests (not all delegates are exhibitors)
  • Have an up-to-date LinkedIn Profile
  • Create your own business cards (easy to do for cheap – visit Bizay and Vistaprint)

Who are the exhibitors this year?

We have a great list of exhibitors attending in 2020, the largest we have ever had at the Science Futures programme and much more than the national biology/applied science events nationally.

Our exhibitors are listed on the Careers Fair Plus App (here) with some in the picture below…..

Some of the employers exhibiting at the Science Futures 2020

Who are our speakers?

To sum up the quality of our speakers in 2020, you’d need to google them online or look up their profiles online to see how good they are. Our speakers work at great organisations and are very talented individuals. We have two keynote speakers this year – Dr Sabrina Roberts and Solomia Boretska.

Dr Roberts is a Senior Scientific Policy Advisor at the Food standards Agency. The Food Standards Agency is a “non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom…responsible for protecting public health in relation to food in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.” She currently represents the UK at EU working group meetings and the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCOPAFF) meetings in Brussels and votes on behalf of the UK in this policy area.

Solomia was a UWE student studying Biomedical Science between 2011 and 2015. Following her degree, she taught herself to code after struggling to find job opportunities and secured a research position at UCL, which led her to an MRes in Neurotechnology at Imperial College London. She is now the CEO and co-founder of Tempo Market, a company that is driven by sustainability to provide easy access to camping equipment when you need it, without the need for storage or cleaning.

You can find out about all the panelists on the Careers Fairs App (Careers Fair Plus). Also, following some of the feedback from students last year, we are trialling out sessions so you can get the opportunity to attend more than one panel talk. You can see the list of the talks below

14:15         Session A – Careers panel discussion I

  • Careers in Sustainable Futures and Sustainable Environments
  •  Careers in Biopharma, Biotech and Health
  • Careers Beyond the Lab Coats & Science
  • *Employer Consultation & Networking (Session for employers and staff only)

15.05 Session B – Careers panel discussion II

  • Careers in Research in Academia
  •  Placement and Summer Internships (Student panel: FROME)
  • Careers Beyond the Lab Coats & Science (Repeat panel)
  • *Developing your Career at UWE Bristol (Research, Teaching and KE – Staff Workshop only)

Science Futures Fair is a fantastic opportunity to engage with employers, alumni and postgraduate tutors to explore what the next steps in your life can be. Whether you know exactly where you’re heading, or just looking for ideas & inspiration, there will be something there for you. Hope you enjoy the day and I look forward to seeing you there!
Dr Antony Hill, Academic Director and Deputy Head of Department

My appreciation goes to the UWE Employer engagement team particularly Imogen Hirst and Zuliza Mackenzie (Placement intern) who have worked tirelessly with me to put this programme together and for their creative and dynamic approaches to enabling and ensuring that Science Futures 2020 is s success.

To all our speakers, employers and to you the students we look forward to seeing you at #ScienceFutures2020 and we hope you enjoy the event.

To follow our updates, you can connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter. Remember, you can also write for us if you have any personal stories to share or any interesting Careers or Employability information.

Article written by Dr Emmanuel Adukwu, Department lead for Employability and Coordinator of the Science Futures event. You can follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter