Comment and careers editor
One of the best things about being a materials scientist is that you’re a bit of everything: chemist, physicist, engineer – in some cases even a biologist. As a result, I’ve spent my career blending chameleon-like into all kind of situations.
My early dreams of winning a Nobel Prize were scuppered by choosing to do a PhD in corrosion science (which, let’s face it, is never going to be cool enough to win mainstream awards). The experiments were fun; writing and talking about science was more fun. Academic working culture as I understood it then – long, lonely hours striving to succeed on a competitive career path – was not fun at all.
As my project looked at the corrosion of metal implants inside the human body, I figured that qualified me as a biologist and entered a biomedical writing competition. I won, which triggered a series of fortunate events that led me to join the Features team of the open-access biology journal eLife in 2014. In my time there my interest moved away from the plain-language summaries of research I’d originally been employed to write, to various issues affecting research culture: open science, working conditions, support for early-career scientists (inside and outside academia), how to fix a system where you’re fortunate to get a permanent job before the age of 35.
In 2019 I joined Chemistry World as comment and careers editor, where I get to explore those topics – and much more! It’s nice to pretend to be a chemist again.
Campaigns in the UK, Ireland and Canada await announcements
Financial difficulties affect researchers at all career stages
Many are protesting stipends that see them work for below minimum wage
A question-based format helps candidates prioritise what to tell recruiters
Recommended minimum stipends for UK-based PhDs failed to match inflation since 2005, exacerbating the current cost-of-living crisis
The atmospheric chemist on battling the elements in Antarctica and preserving the integrity of science
The green chemistry pioneer on making labs safer, designing a portable lab and her unusual way of cooking
We can’t expect interviewees to open up about themselves if that puts them at risk of discrimination