Preconceptions are a very dangerous thing. I realised recently that they had prevented me from immersing myself in my greatest passion for a number of years. After college I immediately started working in the medical science industry but many of my classmates went on to do PhDs. Because of this I convinced myself that I could only stay in touch with science if I was experimenting in a lab.
Being the ‘Genetics Expert’ in my group of friends, I’m often asked about inheritance, disease or news items. Gradually I found my knowledge getting hazier, my answers less confident. We were constantly told in college that science changes rapidly and we needed to read regularly to keep up to date. Having not read journals in years, I began questioning the accuracy of my hazy answers.
Last year, after a few years in the working world, I realised there was something missing from my life. I no longer knew what I wanted to do or what my goals were. Constant searches of graduate courses and volunteering websites always ended up with one thing: science communication. My passion which I had turned a blind eye to was catching up with me.
But where to start? Expensive subscriptions prevented me from reading many journals. Would people even listen to me without any specific qualification? With this in mind, I met the wonderful Aoife McLysaght at the end of May, for coffee and some advice. She convinced me that I didn’t need a masters or PhD to be involved in science and encouraged me to join Twitter to keep up with science news. A weight lifted off my shoulders and the entire evening was spent setting up this blog.
In the last nine weeks, I have met with many people involved in science including PhD students, postgrads, journalists and radio presenters. Every single person has been welcoming and encouraging. I have written a science article every week for my blog and so far have over 1,600 views. Previously, I was staring at a piece of paper filled with ideas for articles not knowing where to start.
Regarding science news, Twitter is amazing for keeping in touch with new discoveries without paying subscriptions. The Irish online science community is very active and there was even a science tweetup in June organised by Dublin City of Science 2012. The amount of support this community has offered me over the past few weeks inspired me to write this post. Fellow science bloggers The Frog Blog and Brian Hughes have also offered so much encouragement.
You may have even noticed me talking on the last few episodes of Scibernia, a weekly podcast (and now on the radio!) recorded in Near FM. The Scibernauts gave me the opportunity to record a feature on science holidays and I mustn’t have been too bad as they asked me back. This allowed me to find yet another aspect of science communication which I now love.
My science voyage has restarted with a bang! This extended journey made me realise how preconceptions can hold people back from their dreams. It has allowed me to step back and appreciate how welcoming people are to newcomers. The more science communicators there are, the better it is for the future of science. So if the above sounds like you, give me a shout!