What is your scientific background?
I studied Immunology and Microbiology at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. I also did my PhD there, at the Cell Biology department of the University Medical Center. This lab specialized in Immuno Electron Microscopy and live cell imaging techniques which helped me get a Post Doc position at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.
How did you transition from the lab to your current job?
I first got a job as Developmental editor for a brand-new journal called F1000Research. I learned lots about editing and science publishing and about the new developments in journals to improve the publishing process. It was very different from working in the lab, but I very much enjoyed working on many interesting papers and trying to help authors improve their publications.
As the journal grew, we visited more conferences and talked to more scientists face-to-face about the rather unusual publication process, collecting useful feedback along the way. When F1000 launched a new product that I had helped to test during its development a new job was created and I shifted from editorial to outreach.
The key part of the job is to connect with scientists to explain what the F1000 products can do and how they can help in the process of writing and publishing their research. The hard part was that the job did not really exist before and a lot of things just had to be tried out. It was very fun trying to find the best way to communicate novel products and publication processes to scientists.
How do you spend your day in your job?
Most days I start with my emails. I’m in the office about half the time and the hours must be flexible depending on the time zone our clients are in. Most of the job is finding scientists and reaching out to them, setting up meetings, seminars, workshops and webinars.
The other part requires a lot of traveling, in my case mostly in the UK/EU to present these seminars and workshops and to attend scientific conferences. The feedback collected during these meetings needs to be communicated back to the relevant departments (such as Sales, Marketing, Development, and Editorial), so the key skills for the job are communication, organization and documentation. You are basically talking to people (internal and external) 75% of your time.
What do you like most about your job?
I love to travel, so that is my favorite part. I also really enjoy interacting with scientists and figuring out how to get their research published and well as encouraging collaboration. You need to be good at public speaking and unafraid to walk up to people and make new contacts.
I had to develop good listening skills, as it is very important to carefully listen to the concerns people bring up and the feedback you are given. F1000 aims to develop new tools that are radically different and the aim is to make the whole collaboration, writing and publishing process easier, faster and more transparent. The most important person is the scientist, so it’s important to fully understand their needs and concerns.
Do you have any advice for current graduate students and postdocs looking to move out of the lab?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment! You will hear many people say that if you leave academia you cannot go back, and that can sound a little scary. It won’t hurt your career to experiment until you find something that fits and that makes you happy. As a scientist, you have many skills that you can use outside of academia, so find the things you enjoy doing most and hone your skills.
Where can you be reached if readers want to ask you more about your job?
Join the conversation by commenting below or using the #moretoscience hashtag on twitter. Do you have a job in science that you love, or know someone who does? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @DanaBerryBMC if you’re interested in participating in our series.