Careers in Science Communication – Insights from Practicing Communicators

Scicomms Careers - Insights from the frontlines

In the age of anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and climate deniers, it is more clear than ever that people need to be talking about science! Scientists need to share their work with the public and interested citizens need to have the opportunity to engage with scientists and learn about what those nerds in white lab coats are actually doing.

A side note about nerds in white lab coats: the term “Nerd” can seem quite derogatory considering that definitions state that a nerd is “socially awkward, boring, and obsessed with a non-social hobby or pursuit.” However, this definition is clearly outdated as it is now cool (and lucrative) to be a nerd. Also, lab coats are available in different colors. 

Students and scientists might have a number of questions about communicating their science:

  • How do I communicate my science?
  • Where do I do it?
  • What should I talk about?
  • How do I start?
  • What kinds of career opportunities exist?

If you find yourself asking these questions, you’re in luck! Last night I had the pleasure of meeting (online, socially distanced, we’re still in a pandemic!) with three very interesting people to learn about careers in science communication during the webinar: SciComm Careers – Insights from the Frontlines.

Joel Hornby, Founder of the Berlin-based studio Molecular Visuals, shared insights about conference organization and 3D molecular visualization. 

Dr. Jakob Paul Morath, Medical Advisor at Dopamine Healthcare Communication, discussed his evolution from award-winning science slammer to working for a medical communications agency.

Dr. Sarah Wettstadt, Director at Microbial Communications, inspired us with her journey from writing a science blog to starting her own company.

Between the three of them, various aspects of science communication were covered: conference organization, writing, blogging, animation, public speaking, agency work, and entrepreneurship. 

In addition to a fun discussion, the audience also got to see my face frozen in some pretty unflattering poses due to some technical challenges I was experiencing.

How do you communicate your science? The way you want to! 

There are so many different formats and distribution channels available, the key is to find what works for you. You should start with whatever you’re most drawn to, be it writing, graphic design, illustration, public speaking, animation, or really ANY means of communicating; pick a medium that you enjoy. 

When it comes to where to communicate, pick a social media channel that fits your medium and start experimenting and building your audience. 

The point is to start. If you’re currently a student or researcher, you can start during your studies and research career, as all of our speakers did. Graduate school in particular provides many different opportunities for experimenting with communication formats and organizing outreach events. 

A bonus incentive: if you start while you’re studying, all of your public outreach initiatives can help you in carving out your career since it is relevant experience for communications jobs, and funding agencies also look favorably upon science communication activities even if your next position still involves research.

If you missed the webinar or want to watch it again, you can find it on our YouTube channel: