“Quite cheekily, it means I get to hear about amazing scientific achievements without having to do the lab work and the get to have fun communicating complex science with all sorts of people.”
This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Renee Watson
Where are you based?
Just outside Oxford.
Who do you work for?
I am the Director of Wats.on Consultancy Ltd.
What type of science communication do you do?
I do some hands on engagement work, running activities for children and adults, and I also work with science-based organisations to help them develop public engagement strategies.
Who is your main audience?
It is very broad. I work with scientists, funders, members of the public, schools and the media.
How did you get into it?
I have always been very passionate about science and the idea that you are involved in a process of discovery. I have also always been quite good at talking, so when I started doing work outside the lab it made sense to talk about science and it has grown from there. There are are so many more jobs emerging in science-related areas which make it a great career option, particularly if you want to have job flexibility.
Why do you do it?
I was the first person in my family to go to University so I used to feel like I wasn’t clever enough to do science, but my interest in it kept me motivated. I now know that if you want to make a real positive difference to our world, science is a great career and with a bit of hard work most people can do it. I hope that by sharing my experience and my passion I can encourage people to consider a career in science. Also it is just plain fun!
Why do you think science communication is important?
There are so many reasons! There is the economic argument that the public largely funds science through tax and through donations, so we have a responsibility to feed back the fruits of that investment. But my main interest is that I firmly believe that science and technology are playing increasing roles in everyday life and people should feel confident to talk about it. By communicating science we can help to give people a vocabulary which they can use to discuss topical science. In short I want science to be a regular dinner table conversation!
What do you love about science communication?
I enjoy sitting at that interface between the scientific community and the public. Quite cheekily, it means I get to hear about amazing scientific achievements without having to do the lab work and the get to have fun communicating complex science with all sorts of people. I absolutely love getting those killer questions from kids, they are the questions that might really make a difference to the course of research because they make scientists think outside the lab!
What has been your favourite project?
I am completely dedicated to the Oxfordshire Science Festival. Leading the growth of an event that gets such positive feedback and seems to make a real impact on people is incredibly rewarding.
Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?
Yes! I am in the process of developing a new science fair in central Abingdon called ATOM! which will act as a hub communicating some of the UKs most exciting science happening in and around the town.
Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?
There are lots of opportunities to have a go at science communication so you can test the waters before diving in. Get involved in science festivals, become a STEM Ambassador or link up with your local science museum.