Case Study: Dr Iona Beange

Full Time Science Communicator, University of Edinburgh

Dr Iona Beange transformed public engagement from a fulfilling extra-curricular activity into a promising and rewarding career. Find out about her journey…

What is your research area?

I previously completed a PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh (The role of the hippocampus in learning and memory for context.)

Describe your public engagement (PE) experience

During my PhD, taking time out for science communication re-motivated me and reminded me why my research was exciting. It also helped me to become more confident in publicly presenting information and talking to people I didn’t know.
Learning to talk about my research also helped me to explain what I was doing to friends and family.

Did you receive any training and/or support for your PE work?

  • University of Aberdeen: Support from Techfest / Setpoint who organised events / lined up opportunities.
  • National Museums Scotland: Science show presenter in Connect Gallery
  • University of Edinburgh (Transkills): Research Communication in Action Course (training day and experience in schools); Communicating Science to non-specialists Course; Post-Graduate Science Communication Team (provided payment and opportunities to partake in science communication events).
  • Edinburgh / Glasgow: Ecsite (Facilitation Skills Workshop); Edinburgh International Science Festival (Science Presenters Course); BBC (Media Skills Day); Knex Training (use of Knex in an educational setting).

Is there anything you wished you had?

Someone to help me gather together all the potential opportunities. I missed quite a few simply because I didn’t know about them.

Where have you found the funding for PE?

  • Wellcome Trust
  • Scottish Government
  • Darwin Trust

Do you feel PE has helped or hindered your career progression?

Taking time during my undergraduate and post-graduate degrees to do science communication activities has helped me to build up enough experience to move fully into this sector upon graduation.
However, even if I had stayed in research, I would have continued to do outreach work as it is so rewarding and motivating – and a moral responsibility to those who are paying our wages!

What percentage of your time do you spend doing PE work?

Now – 100%

  • 50% School of Chemistry – Superbugs project
  • 50% School of Biology – SIBE

Previously – 5% (During PhD Research)