Scientist on Assignment
Department of Physics Blogs
Hello, world. Welcome to Scientist on Assignment, a blog that I will use to share my personal experiences as an Oxford scientist working at the Financial Times for a month.
I have this wonderful opportunity to see how the media covers science through a British Science Association Media Fellowship. Every year, the BSA places ten scientists in newsrooms throughout the UK to build and strengthen bridges between science and journalism.
As a young computational biophysicist, I don’t have much free time; however, I applied for a month-long BSA placement because I strongly believe that we scientists have a responsibility to share what we discover. We do this in three principle ways: We report to our peers through journals and conferences; we teach students in lectures and through supervised projects; and we communicate our findings to the public. Engaging with the public is traditionally the least emphasized and often it is not much more than an afterthought. My BSA Media Fellowship is an opportunity to carry out this responsibility by reporting on exciting scientific findings to the readers of the Financial Times.
Although primarily a financial news publication, the FT superbly covers science news. Science coverage is the domain of science editor Clive Cookson, whom I shall report for while at the FT. The FT operates online with a paywall, meaning that much of the content requires a subscription or at least registration (8 free articles per month). Oxford’s Bodleian Library has a full subscription for academics.
What will I be doing at the FT? I don’t know yet. I don’t begin until August 26th 2014 but I have been informed that I should expect to be dropped into the deep-end — that I will be interviewing, writing and generally reporting science content right off the bat.
This blog (along with my twitter account @BuildingInThere) will informally report my thoughts and experiences with journalists and the media as an embedded scientist. Here, I’ll write about my excitement and frustrations. I’ll summarize what I’m learning and I’ll tell you about the hard days. I hope that readers will let me know about their experiences with science in the media or make suggestions about how this blog or anything that I write could be improved. Expect an exciting month watching a fish out of water.