woensdag 18 mei 2011

Should I stay or should I go...?

This blog was written for PCDI's community 

The past year I have been writing about my doubts of an academic career, my thoughts on what my perfect job would be and the actions I took to find it. After the postdoc retreat in 2010 I decided to search for what I really want and started to do a lot of other things next to my research. These included organizing the postdoc retreat in February, writing for different websites and organizations (Sciencepalooza and more, like PCDI) and participating in our departments Academische Jaarprijs-team. I found out that I was really enjoying these things and started to look for work in that direction.  

As I wasn’t afraid to speak out my wish for a new challenge, people started asking me to participate in science communication activities and soon I was offered a job - that I will start in July. In short, I will be project leader on the development of an exhibition about science in a new research institute in Groningen (ERIBA). I will be working together with scientists, designers and artists to translate the research that is performed at the institute to the general public and schools. The preparations already started, so now I am, in between my experiments and writing a paper, sending emails, organizing brainstorms with designers and talking to people from a small science center at the university. And I love it!

But... the new job will be for 50% - so I have to find more work to be able to pay the bills. So there was another big question: what else? Maybe soon I will be in a position to earn some money with popular science writing. I set up my own blog some months ago, but it might be difficult to get myself in between the well-known journalists. I could work for the science center at the university. Or, maybe, I could do some part-time research.

I had decided against doing research, what can you do, part-time science? And I wasn’t enjoying it that much any more. So, these would be my final months as a scientist, the end of my job that I had been doing for almost 8 years now. Scary, but I started to get used to the idea.

And then, when I least expected it, came, out of the blue: a grant! My first one ever! Why now? And what now? Go for the project? Or try being involved in the research from a distance? Training a PhD-student to do the experiments and then supervising?

So, what do you think? Can I be a part-time scientist? Shall I keep one foot in the real science while having a job in science communication? Or shall I step out of research totally? Shall I try to become a real science journalist? Or shall I just take the shotgun approach and do everything?

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