How did you get your current job?
Dr. Alison Noble, my advisor, suggested science writing as a potential good career path for me in my senior year. After three years in Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance, I was looking for a change and found the listing for a public relations specialist at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey. The job required a heavy amount of science writing, so I applied. I was contacted for a phone interview and asked to provide writing samples. Since I didn't have any prepared that were in the style of a news story, Dr. Noble suggested that I put my own spin on the stories that are featured in issues of C&E News, which are based on accepted manuscripts published in leading scientific journals. I also submitted my method review paper from Chemical Analysis I as a sample of my technical writing abilities. After a series of in-person interviews, I was offered the job in January 2019 and started shortly after in February.
What does your typical day look like/what responsibilities do you have?
I am in charge of news and communications related to research being conducted at Penn State College of Medicine and throughout the Penn State Health System. My job is to keep track of the research and innovation our faculty, physicians, graduate students, and medical students are engaged in and finding ways to share that
with the public and also the scientific community.
A typical day might include:
- Interviewing a faculty member about their latest study and drafting a press release
- Coordinating with the media relations officer to host local television reporters on campus or set up and facilitate phone interviews with non-local media outlets
- Helping write flyers, scripts, or advertisements for recruitment for clinical trials
- Coordinating with our social media specialist on strategies for sharing news about our research
Why did you choose this degree at Messiah College?
I've loved chemistry since I was in high school, but I also loved the creative arts like music and writing. After a semester in music education, I found my way back to science after enjoying what I was learning in general chemistry and biology. I've always loved learning about new things and found that Chemistry was a constant exploration of new and unknown things. In my current job, I am constantly learning new things every day and I get the challenge of trying to get others enthused about the work our researchers are doing.
How did your Messiah College degree prepare you for this career?
I learned about experimental design through courses like Organic Chemistry and Chemical Analysis. I got a good sense of what the research process looks like and how to effectively communicate the background, methods, and conclusions that are associated with a scientific project. I use the critical thinking skills I gained through my
chemistry courses at Messiah College every single day.
Is there any specific advice you would offer someone pursuing or considering
Chemistry is a challenging, but rewarding degree. Scientific discipline should never be pursued alone. Find friends who are just as curious as you about the subject matter. Collaborating with those who have different perspectives or knowledge sets is crucial - and it is how the scientific world thrives in today's world.
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
I recently joined the National Association of Science Writers. This is a group that offers student memberships and a variety of resources. If you're interested in this type of work, check it out.