Caroline Wood has acted as Chair and Secretary of our branch since it was launched on 7th February 2017, although she has been involved with public engagement and science communication since she started her PhD in 2013. Prior to this, she studied Cell Biology at Durham University. Her PhD focuses on parasitic plants that infect food crops and while she enjoys laboratory research she ultimately hopes to have a career within a science-policy related field, using science to solve urgent problems.
As part of her roles within our branch, she has been involved in planning events, volunteer recruitment, applying for grants and forming partnerships with community organisations. She is particularly proud of her involvement in our Social Media Committee helping to establish our online presence particularly though our website. She is due to step down this September from her BSA role and next February she will take on a three-month internship at the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) at Westminster. You can find out more about her on her blog http://scienceasadestiny.blogspot.com/ and by following her on Twitter (@sciencedestiny).
“I joined the BSA because I strongly believe that the public need to understand and value science in order for research to have the best impact in society. I feel fortunate because the University of Sheffield is very committed to scientific public engagement and offers countless opportunities for researchers to be involved. I was already active in many science communication initiatives when I heard about the launch meeting for the new BSA branch. I didn’t think I had time for new commitments yet went along anyway to see if I could make any useful contacts. But I couldn’t resist the challenge of helping to found something new for Sheffield. I volunteered to manage the mailing list and arrange the next meeting, and somehow that led to me being elected as the first Chair and Secretary!
As the first Chair, I was determined to build a strong foundation to help the group continue for many years. Central to this was establishing ourselves within the city by forming partnerships and recruiting a diverse range of volunteers. I feel that together we have been very successful in this which is illustrated by our range of different events and the fact that groups now contact us to ask if we can host a science activity. I was also keen that we didn’t replicate work already being done by other public engagement projects, but that we target new audiences.
As for how I became interested in science, well I can’t remember ever NOT being interested in dinosaurs and I wanted to be a palaeontologist for a long time…until I realised it would probably involve spending a lot of time cleaning rocks with a toothbrush! What turned me towards research was watching the BBC Horizon documentaries as a child and seeing science being used to solve complex problems. My interest in science grew during my time at secondary school and ultimately led to my degree in Cell Biology.
Volunteering with BSA Sheffield has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have met many wonderful, talented people from whom I have learnt so much and developed so many transferable skills (e.g. event planning and public speaking). Compared with other volunteer roles, BSA Sheffield has given me the opportunity to follow my interests and plan activities from the very beginning rather than just turning up on the day. All our events have had a real purpose behind them and it has been fantastic to see the public become more interested in a scientific topic through our activities. And on top of it all, we have had so much fun along the way! For anyone interested in science communication,