There´s scientific life outside the academia, but what about in Brazil?
Translation by Gabriel Cunha from the original.
I´ve been to the Expanding career options lunch held in the EMBO Meeting (one of the reasons this blog seems forgotten). The event was OK but it could be better. The time was short, it´s hard to eat and drink and all the noise from the tables really makes the conversation difficult. Nevertheless the problem could be summed to the format of the event. All attendants seemed interested and interesting, I´ve participated in three 35 minute discussion tables each with a former grad student that left the academic life.
Their areas, names and some comments follow:
• Scientific politics
He basically connects research groups to the government in social interest themes. For example, he is now inserting neuroscience concepts in education to improve the education system. The Centre´s role is to gather data from its associates in an easy understanding report to non-scientist legislators apart from keeping in touch with great names in both scientific and political areas.
• Scientific communication
She´s like a PR for a research group but although the job really resembles the one of a PR professional some scientific knowledge is important to translate the institution production into press-releases and media contact. The main role of such a professional is the visibility increase in the area of interest using the media, hosting events, fairs and other initiatives. In Rosina´s case the institution is local, inside Cataluña, so the targets are media and the local population. Despite the obvious director position in terms of creativity liberties a professional dedicated to scientific institution media relationships starts and stays writing press-releases and organizing events for a long time.
• Industrial R & D
Yeap, you can do research in the industry (those damn children-eating capitalists). And according to Cronet you might even have more freedom than in the academic field due to less pressure to publish results or meet funding deadlines. Sure the deadlines are shorter but all objectives are well calculated and split among different teams, which can bring more results and a greater satisfaction achieving them rapidly when compared to 3-4 years of a PhD. There´s no individual project and eventually your boss might say “the competition is already doing it, cancel the project” but hey, it doesn´t mean you´ll be fired – just switch project.
Careers in politics of communication are really exciting but I realize the huge difficulties to follow such path in Brazil due to the same problem: the lack of a scientific culture that leads to a poor structure.
Where´s Brazil “Royal Society” to sponsor a scientific politics office? Does the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC) or the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC) fulfill this role? Who should have such responsibility?
I remember a professor that was invited to the House of Representatives to give a presentation on stem cells during the voting of the corresponding legislation in Brazil. The only one that attended the event was the congressman that made the invitation and I wonder if that was the only attempt to explain the stem cell concepts to our legislators.
The same thing occurs with scientific communications, it’s unusual to have a PR professional even in the major companies and even less common in research institutes. There are a few initiatives but none structurally robust and lasting. The journalism seems to be evolving with news agencies in universities and in grant foundations but scientific communication goes beyond journalism, and it´s in this exact question that I sense a lack of examples.
Concerning the industry I was astonished by the amount of European doctorate and post-doctorate students that had no one familiar working in the field. I´m a mere creature from a developing nation but I know about a dozen colleagues working in research or related areas in different companies. This might be a problem in my sample group because this colleagues graduated in the most reputable universities in Brazil, what makes them disputed by a small but expanding market while the European market might be saturated.
Bonus: I strongly recommend the reading of this report by the Royal Society and surfing their great website.