Science communication insight for summer student

 13 September 2018   Public Engagement

Each summer the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (MRC LMS) hosts undergraduate students across the institute. Students are placed in research groups or in the Grants, Engagement and Communications (GECo) team. This year we produced a film highlighting the summer students’ experiences and have written two articles, one highlighting the research studentship experience and this one highlighting the science communications studentship experience.

Ellie McLaughlin, Biochemistry student at the University of Manchester, shares her experience of the Science Communications Internship.

Science communication requires creativity, interpersonal skills and scientific understanding. At an institute such as the MRC LMS where the communications team work so closely alongside researchers, there is also a great sense of responsibility to ensure that research is shared with integrity.

“I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of learning all about the different research taking place in the institute and conveying this complex science in an engaging and accessible way.”

This summer, I was keen to explore the ways in which I could continue to feed my interest in science in a role away from the bench. I was drawn to the MRC LMS because of its many projects that involve creative collaborations between science and art, such as Suffrage Science and Fabrics of Life. Collaborating with Institute students and staff on the Science Museum Medicine Lates exhibit gave me a taste of designing and delivering a science outreach event, and showed me the importance of communicating research well. At Lates, seeing such genuine interest and excitement about LMS research from people from all walks of life was hugely rewarding and a real reminder of the significance of the work taking place at the LMS.

Being part of the GECo team at the LMS has allowed me to learn a great deal – from writing articles for the website, producing a video to showcase the studentship scheme, to working on public engagement projects. The studentship opened my eyes to the myriad of possible careers in the science communication field. Throughout the programme I was able to meet a network of people working in the science communication sector. Ranging from those working in science policy to media and museums. I also got to attend a variety of exhibitions and events such as the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition and to liaise with communications groups from other institutes. The experience showed me that a career in science communication has the potential to allow you to remain engaged and involved with exciting scientific discoveries on a much broader scale than when working within a specific research area.

Speaking to previous Science Communications summer student, Honor Pollard, who has recently graduated with a BA Natural Sciences, from the University of Cambridge. She shared her experience at LMS and her interest in pursuing a career in science communication,

I really enjoyed my time as a Science Communications Summer Student. The placement gave me the opportunity to learn a huge number of industry specific skills, such as, how to take the best photo for a news article and what questions to ask scientists during interviews about their work. In addition, I gained transferable skills that have been important during my degree, for example working to multiple deadlines at once. Following my studentship, I am hoping to pursue a career in science communication.”

The Science Communications Studentship at the MRC LMS has given me a real insight into a career in science communication. I would recommend the experience to any student. Being able to communicate your science well is an invaluable skill that will stand you in good stead whether you wish to remain in academia or pursue other options – and will be an incredibly rewarding experience!

Watch the intern experience video for an insight of what it’s like to be a summer student at the MRC LMS:

Applications for the 2019 summer studentships will open in spring 2019 and are open to undergraduates in the middle years of their degree. See here for more details of how to apply.