I have recently joined the Motor Neurone Disease Association as a part-time ‘Research Information Co-ordinator’ and this blog post is a little bit about my background and how this benefits my role within the Association.
In my role I work in the Research Development Team understanding and interpreting current research into Motor Neurone Disease (MND). One of my main roles is to digest research into easily understandable pieces of information for staff, and those affected by, or currently living with, MND. This is an exciting role as there is no point in research if nobody can understand it!
Research scientists often live in their own bubble, working long days and nights alone in a lab. Due to this, they use over complicated language to explain the simplest of things. This is why research articles are so difficult to understand by the majority of the general public due to them being full of scientific jargon and jumbles of acronyms.
How do I know this? I’ve just finished my lab work for my PhD and spent 3 years in a lab doing research and writing research papers! When you’re in the lab all day alone, and spend all of your time communicating with other researchers, you forget about the rest of the world (who have no idea what you’re doing).
This is why the majority of scientists are terrible at communicating science so that people, such as their parents, can understand it.
My PhD is on an area completely different to MND. I worked with bacteria and other nasty microorganisms in order to develop a new disinfectant. This research was in an area I have huge a passion for, and who knows… If my work is responsible for the development of a new product, I may get a few pennies!
As a researcher I have published a number of scientific papers as well as presenting posters and presentations at international and national conferences. Due to this experience I am well aware of the research world!
Before my PhD, I did a degree in Biomedical Science, learning all about human disease, diagnostic tests and treatment. As well as studying for this degree I also trained as a Biomedical Scientist in all areas of hospital pathology. A Biomedical Scientist is known as the ‘unseen health professional’ as they work in the hospital labs. When a doctor sends a blood/urine sample etc. off, the Biomedical Scientist receives it and runs diagnostic tests on it. After interpreting the results the Biomedical Scientist then sends the results to the doctor who then decides on the appropriate treatment. During this role I performed a range of different diagnostic tests in order to make a diagnosis.
Whilst doing my PhD I realised that throughout my scientific career I have done an awful lot of ‘talking and writing’. With this in mind I thought ‘What’s the point in doing research if nobody other than my supervisor has a clue what I’m doing?’ After this realisation, I started writing science in a new way, a way that everyone could understand. The more I wrote, the more I got people excited and interested in science.
Through this passion of communicating science to others I have given my career as a research scientist a break for the time being, which I may, or may not pursue in the future.
Hopefully starting my career in communicating science with the Motor Neurone Disease Association will help the Association achieve their goal of a ‘World Free of MND’ as well as achieve my own personal goal of getting as many people as possible interested in, and excited by science.