The Unexpected Benefit of ChatSci: Placement Blog

I am one month into my 3-month placement in London. During my short break from the lab I’m working in a medical charity within the Opportunity Assessment Team. My role is to investigate the scientific and commercial rationale for research proposals. The team determines which proposals will have the most patient impact and whether they should be progressed through the therapeutic or diagnostic development process. 

In the past month I’ve read about therapeutics and diagnostics for heart attacks, liver disease, infections and various cancers. I’ve had the invaluable opportunity to develop my understanding of important and varied techniques such as gene therapy, antibody generation, next generation sequencing and artificial intelligence/big data. It’s been fascinating but the biggest surprise for me has been how much InterSci helped me to understand the importance and challenges of the different proposals I’ve been reading over.

My PhD has trained me to be a good scientist. I read scientific literature critically, I plan experiments and understand the impact (and limitations) of my work but no matter how interdisciplinary my training is, I can never get exposure to every research topic. That’s why I started InterSci. 

As part of InterSci, with the help of an incredible team, we run fortnightly events (“ChatSci”) where scientists of any discipline come and chat about their research in an accessible and informal way. Now, here in my placement, almost every proposal topic I’ve come across has been discussed during ChatSci in one way or another. Because of this, I better appreciate the different challenges and potential benefits in each field thanks to some amazing researchers sharing their work (with the help of our jargon flags).

Because of ChatSci I have learnt about topics I wouldn’t have come across in my day-to-day research and the best thing is that I retained the information without even trying! I didn’t have to take notes or study to understand the ChatSci talks, you just turn up, drink in hand and you’ll walk away with knowledge that may just help future you. So the next time you’re invited to a ChatSci event or get the opportunity to engage with scientists outside of your specific research field… GO! You never know when or where their research might crop up.

Amelia Hallas-Potts, InterSci President 


Jargon flag: “please hold this flag up when then speaker uses jargon and they will explain in clearer terms”

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