Pictured here are the 2011 – 2012 committee, all of whom greatly enjoyed their time with Science Brainwaves, so much so that 4 of the committee stayed on for the following year. Being a member of the Brainwaves committee allows you to gain experience in many different areas of science communication and science outreach. Most of all, it’s fun and highly rewarding to volunteer with Science Brainwaves. Some of our past committee members have kindly written about their time with us, and you can read about them below.
Planning the first Christmas lecture was what made me realise I wanted to go into science communication after my PhD, and officially setting up Science Brainwaves just afterwards was a massive step in the right direction. After an amazing year, where we launched the website, recruited masses of volunteers, organised events and headed off to Green Man festival, I left Sheffield to do a science journalism MA. I’m now genetics editor of BioNews and a freelance journalist, having written for New Scientist, Nature and Research Fortnight.
What I did at Brainwaves: Head of Website/Managing Director
What I do now: Special Projects Manager, UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres
My initial responsibility for Science Brainwaves was designing and implementing a website, and coordinating a small team of volunteers to help develop and maintain it. Further down the line I took on more and more responsibilities, for planning and executing events and activities. I did this during my doctoral studies. I gained valuable experience with time management, planning and budgeting. A really important aspect of what I did was bringing people together – whether this was through recruiting volunteers to get involved with Brainwaves, or shaping activities with external partners.
Today I work for a national charity with the aim of involving and inspiring the public with science. We achieve this through bringing together our members, which make up the UK’s largest publicly accessible network dedicated to both informal science learning and family science engagement. I am responsible for the delivery of two major, multi-partner, national projects focussed on bringing alive different areas of science to the public in science centres. Basically, I ensure that the projects run on schedule, within budget, within the agreed scope of work.
I joined Science Brainwaves as its Secretary in 2010-2011, my role at that time was to take minutes for the committee, organise mail shots and carry out general administration work. In addition to that I wanted to get more involved in the science communication work of the charity, I volunteered at school outreach days and organised my own public engagement event – ‘The Science of Cocktails’, with Noel Jackson from the Centre for Life. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of organising this event, which was hugely successful, with newspaper coverage, a radio interview and most importantly an audience of 100 people engaged in SCIENCE!
Having enjoyed my time with Science Brainwaves so much, I decided to apply for the Director/Chairperson role for 2011-2012 and was successful in being voted in! Whilst working as the Director of Science Brainwaves my commitment to Science Brainwaves grew, as I began to focus on building up a repertoire of events and projects to provide opportunities for our volunteers to engage with the public. My highlights from this year include; successfully gaining funding and training for Science Brainwaves and the University of Sheffield to carry out the nationwide Wellcome Trust funded project ‘Hands on DNA: A Question of Taste’, organising ‘The Botany of Gin’ – a sequel to ‘The Science of Cocktails’ and ‘Better Looking, Better Loving: The Science of Beauty’ with Dr John Emsley and supporting the wonderful committee in establishing a radio show, outreach events with local Scout groups, schools, after-schools clubs and developing new workshops. It was a fantastic year and I am very proud to have been part of such a wonderful adventure, I’ve made some wonderful friends and the icing on the cake for me was when we won the Sir Walter Bodmer Award in 2012.
Following the completion of my PhD, I embarked on a trip around the world – taking a break from my career for a different kind of adventure! Now I have returned to the UK, I am moving to Cambridge and am hoping to find employment in the charity sector, where I can continue to grow and develop my skills set.
I was one of the four founding members of Science Brainwaves and later became director. I went straight from my Ph.D into a job in science policy at the Association of Medical Research Charities; it’s a job that I love and there aren’t that many jobs going in it so I feel very lucky.
I truly believe that I wouldn’t have got where I am without Science Brainwaves on my CV. I learnt how to write properly for a range of audiences through blogging, writing news articles and preparing grant proposals to get money for our events. It gave me so many experiences to draw upon in interviews: how I’ve worked in a team but also been a leader, how I’ve dealt with pressure or worked to a deadline and how I’ve approached seemingly insurmountable problems. But most of all I’ve been able to show that I’ve taken the initiative to achieve something quite unique. The great thing about Science Brainwaves is that it’s run by students and so you can have the opportunity to make it what you want, to be creative and really have something significant and different to show for your hard work.