Friday was my last day at the John Innes Centre. Although I’m happy to be moving on to new things, I’m going to miss the place and the wonderful people I’ve been working with over the last 5 years. In the past few weeks I have been preparing for my departure by wrapping up my experimental work, clearing out my lab bench, fridge and freezer drawers, and putting together a research paper to send to a journal.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased by what I’ve achieved research-wise over the last few years. I’ve tried lots of things, some of them worked, and I’ve got some interesting data that I’m still really excited about. I will definitely be keeping an eye on the field in future to see what happens next!
Friday was also my last day of being a “Research Scientist”. In September I start a new job with the life and biomedical sciences journal eLife as an Assistant Features Editor. I will be editing and writing magazine-style content including “eLife digests”, which are summaries of the journal’s research articles aimed at non-scientists. I’m really excited about the job as I will be working in science communication both within the scientific community and also to wider audiences.
I want to discuss my reasons for leaving science research because, unfortunately, some people consider it to be a negative thing, like an admission of failure or a waste of all that training. I am NOT leaving research because I dislike labwork, or even because I don’t feel that I’m good enough to stay. I’ve loved the research work I’ve been doing over the last few years, but I’ve also really enjoyed all the science communication activities I’ve been involved in. I’ve decided to leave research because in the long-term, I think I will find a career in science communication more fun and rewarding. Far from being a waste, the understanding of science I’ve gained during my research training will help me communicate the workings and findings of science to wider audiences.
What does my new job mean for this blog? Don’t worry, it will be business as usual here as I intend to continue posting regular articles about plants and microbes. Given that I will be more exposed to a wider variety of life science areas, it is possible that I may stray to other topics from time-to-time to write about other interesting things I come across. However, I will retain a focus on plants and microbes because I still love plants, and I intend to continue learning about them in my spare time. Also, I think plants and non-medical microbes (those that don’t cause animal diseases) tend to receive less attention online than they perhaps deserve. If this blog contributes even a little to raising the profile of some of these organisms then I’ll be very pleased.