I was born/grew up in: Killarney, Manitoba
I now live in: Edmonton, Alberta
I completed my training/education at: I completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Guelph. I learned on the job at CJOH TV as an on air call-in show expert for science translation
What I do at work
I am the host of the Super Awesome Science Show podcast. About half of my time is spent reading papers and other information that is generated from the academic community. This includes reviewing data and statistics. I spend about 30% of my time putting this information into a form that will make sense to the public. When I am contracted to write for a specific audience, I will target the information to their needs. The rest of my time is spent in creating the content. This can come in the form of writing, radio, podcast, or TV interviews. I can also include screenwriting and/or filmmaking, and presentations such as at conferences.
Because my job is focused on the public, I need to be sure that decisions are made with the public's interest in mind. This can be difficult at times as there tends to be a gap between science, policy, and the public. However, usually I can find a way to connect all three. The approach I use is known as the 4Es. These are education, enrichment, engagement, and entertainment. This has been shown to be the most effective way to convey information such that people feel they are respected. Having 30 years of involvement in research does help. This background allows me to identify trends, mechanisms, and pathways easily so that they can be translated effectively. However, I always rely on those who know more than me to help me stay accurate and aware of perspective.
My career path is
My path has been one of exceptions more than rules. Normally, scientists have a structured path that they follow from about Grade 9 to retirement. So far, that has not been the case for me. I have wandered different paths to success rather than follow the straight road. While this has given me experiences I will always cherish, I also know that it’s not for everyone. What I do know is that I wanted to be in science at a young age and I went in that direction. From that point on, the goal was always in mind. As long as you have that distant objective, you can make as many turns as needed to find your success. Learn more about my career path through my LinkedIn profile.
I am motivated by
I am motivated to share knowledge. This may seem odd as most people think that knowledge is power and sharing it may take away from that strength. But I feel that we all need to be as informed as possible to be able to make the right decisions for our lives. Over my lifetime, I have seen a few attempts to take the wonderful discoveries that occur in science to the public. In studying them and the work these individuals have done, I have come to realize that the joy does not come from my own knowledge. Rather, it comes from seeing how that knowledge changes someone who didn’t know. It could be a quick emotion, like a “Wow!”, or it could be a change in the way they live. But that transfer from the lab to life with me as the link it a truly enjoyable moment. It drives me to continue doing what I do each and every day.
How I affect peoples’ lives
I've made a difference in the public because I have helped them to be more aware of science in their lives. That continues to be the most fulfilling part of what I do. I also feel it matters because we need science more than ever. Acting as a link between the two very different worlds is hard but also incredibly worthwhile.
Outside of work I
I like to exercise by taking runs and hikes. I enjoy playing some music every now and then. I especially enjoy screenwriting and when I can, directing. It’s great to do something that is the opposite of science. It balances me out.
My advice to others
Learn as much as you can now and every day forward. Identify that objective in the distance and keep your eyes on it. Listen to those who have gone before you as they will give you valuable advice. Most importantly, your journey is your own and every experience, good and bad, is part of your growth. Never take that for granted.