15 days at Scientell
By Bianca Le
Being a final year PhD student is tough. Despite the looming deadline, you begin to lose motivation and enthusiasm for the research project you spend every waking hour of the past three years thinking about. What didn’t wane, however, was my love for science and storytelling. Then the opportunity arose to spend one day a week for three months as an intern at Scientell. I knew this was what I needed to learn how to communicate science to people beyond the academics in my field – but as I reflect back on my time at Scientell, I realise I learnt more than just that. Now, more than ever, scientists need to effectively communicate their research and educate others on how to critically analyse what they read in the news, particularly when opinionated commentary is disguised as evidence-based reporting. During my 15 days at the Scientell office at the Royal Society of Victoria, I wrote several newspaper articles for project with the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University. The columns, published in Leader newspapers, explain how human-induced climate change is affecting local weather throughout Melbourne. Each article is accompanied by easy-to-read graphs, with long-term weather data tailored specifically to the readers’ residential area. This gives people around Melbourne an idea of how this complex climate phenomenon can influence their day-to-day life.
I also worked on several other projects, including an article (published in the November edition of Australian Book Review) on the importance of the Eucalypt for our ecology throughout history. I wrote a media release covering a recently published study on migration patterns in native animals, and I learnt how to edit other scientists’ writing.
Beyond the pen and paper, I also learnt about the inner workings of the science communication industry itself. I joined the directors of Scientell at networking events and client meetings, and back in the office I helped host a networking lunch, and learnt about strategic media placement, as well as contributing to developing a digital marketing plan for the business.
The world of science communication is complex and constantly evolving. While my internship was short, I’ve already learnt so much about that world from Simon and Paul. I’ve also gained a fresh perspective on my own research project and have been reminded of why I became interested my research topic in the first place. As I approach the end of my PhD, I can now apply the writing skills I’ve gained from this internship to communicate and share my own science research from the past three years. Watch this space!