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Week 6 - My Life as an Engaged Faculty Member with Dr. Diane Kelly

Submitted by dnavon on Wed, 03/08/2017 - 09:12

Hi all!  I hope you found this week's guest interview useful.  We had a fantastic chat with Dr. Diane Kelly, the self-professed "other penis lady" of UMass's faculty.  Topics ranged from how to get paid as a science writer to the best way to communicate with a variety of audiences.  Mostly, you all drove the interview by asking Dr. Kelly some great questions - it was great to see how engaged you all were with the conversation!  Your homework over break is first and foremost to enjoy your break - take some time with friends or family, cuddle your pet, binge watch some Netflix shows.  You deserve it.

In our next meeting, on 3/19, Dr. Skye Long will be joining us to discuss the role of visual media in science communication.  This is the first week of a two-week unit I've added in which will focus on non-written and non-presentation based forms of communication.  I'm very excited to be branching out like that and hope that it will be a useful addition to the class!  Two classes from now we will be speaking with Dr. Colleen Hitchcock of Brandeis University, a regional expert in citizen science projects.  For that class, you will need to read two papers, which I've provided here in case you would like to get a head start on them!  Definitely let me know if you have any questions.


It was enjoyable because of the passion of the speaker, it was less enjoyable because of the very narrow focus of the talk.  Being an ecologist instead of a biologist per se, the talk had limited extension beyond the world of med/pharm/microbio.  That being said, I really enjoyed learning about a world I didn’t know much about and the rapid timelines they have to work with.  Pretty cut throat out there.

I would agree with Joe that the talk was a bit narrow in terms of interests and career paths. It was difficult to apply many of the concepts to my own career goals. However, I did think that Dr. Godek was an effective and interesting speaker. Her passion for her work came through in her talk and I thought she did a great job of demonstrating how important it is to be engaged and interested in your work if you want to be successful.  

I loved meeting Marisha before the lecture since I was able to ask her so many questions about how to prepare for a career in industry, and also what it is like to work in biotech. I enjoyed her lecture and found it really interesting as she discussed how in industry you often need to communicate your science to non-scientific audiences such as marketing or business people and also in her case she needs to talk about the biomedical supplies she helps make with the surgeons who use her products. For my field and career goals, this was event was a perfect match.

Although I don't personally anticipate a career path in this type of industry, I found her talk useful and broadly applicable to science communication in general. She emphasized the importance of selling your idea/project -- that just having a good idea isn't enough, but you actually have to market yourself and market your idea in a targeted way to get your audience onboard. And she spent some time talking about the importance of knowing your audience in order to accomplish that "sell" -- your marketing strategy will change based on the audience to whom you're pitching your idea/project. Beyond industry, this is relevant for grant applications, permit applications, job applications...and for making your non-scientist neighbor care about science.

I agree with what's been said about the speaker's enthusiasm for the topic, but as Joe said, I didnt feel much crossover into the world of ecology. In fact, the biggest take away from her talk was likely that you need to know your audience, and I got the sense that she didnt really know hers. She spent the majority of her time talking about how to effectively wine and dine doctors to buy medical products, not exaclty something with a great deal of applicability outside of her bubble.

Marisha was clearly very enthusiastic and interested in what she was talking about, but I agree that she spent a lot of time talking about how to communicate to specific audiences that were not relevant to many of us studying ecology. I did appreciate hearing what she had to say about selling your ideas - it is important to strategize based on your goals and who you are communicating to. But again, her specifics were not taylored to me as an audience member so I felt that it was difficult to correlate her examples with my own career path.

Like others have described, I felt like I needed to do some extra work translating Dr. Godek's examples/advice into scenarios that would be relevant for cognitive psychology. Some of those examples were easier (e.g., know your audience, and recognize that a presentation doesn't need to reach everyone in the audience in the same way), others less so (e.g., be wary of a doctor's ego, meet them over breakfast). I did appreciate the time dedicated to sharing stories about her life in industry. I thought that the heavy reliance on anecdotes both got across much of what her day-to-day was like, and also succeeded in giving the talk a relaxed and almost friendly tone.

Dr. Godek definitely had some great information for those that were thinking about going into industry. I noticed that the advice she gave often intersected with advice I received in the corporate retail world, that which I experienced before I came to UMass. I didn't find that realm of work fulfilling, but I can see how it is to some. I agree with others who commented - it's difficult to translate the lecture to academia. However, I think that some tips (such as how to deal with higher-ups), although not quite applicable to academic work culture, can be used when speaking to grant organizers. Although her experiences aren't quite I am interested in, I can still boil down some of the ideas and apply them to my career.

Lecture was interesting because it covered a topic/area of work I am unfamiliar with. That was my main gain from the lecture, just getting an idea of what working with science in industry is like. It was lacking a bit of focus on communication though, that topic was a part of the talk but not really the main focus it felt like so for this class it was just a bit too far off but still interesting.

It is really nice to have some idea about how things work in industry...different divisions work together, lots of meetings between different department (with lab guys and commercial guys, even with the shareholder), very different pace for projects. As other classmates said, she did not touch much detial about those departments she is working with (What is the difference between industrial lab and academia lab? How about research project and "money"? What kind of experts do they need?)  This talk is focus on how to "communicate" with different groups and customers.