Jana – PhD Student

If you are thinking about doing a PhD within the field of Medical Science or Public Health, then read on to find out more about Jana’s career and the work that she carries out on a daily basis.

What attracted you to take part in the Hidden Science app?

With a Masters degree in science communication and an genuine interest in engaging the public with all kinds of science, I felt this project was ideal to get involved in, since it is hands-on science engagement using the latest technology to get (especially young people) interested in science. What a great idea!

What does your typical day involve?

I am currently doing a PhD in health communication and psychology, so that fills up most of my time, as it involves digging out and reading interesting papers, talking to patients and doctors and finally developing something that will help patients (and doctors) make difficult health care decisions. But I am also involved in the Robots Podcast, which involves writing gluetext and editing for the fortnightly podcast, so that takes up a bit of my time every week as well. Additionally to that I usually spend some time during the day surfing the net, looking for interesting science news and developments and potentially interesting stories for science writing (on the new science journalism project) or volunteer opportunities. Plus there is a lot of watching TV or doing user less productive things of course!

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

I love getting things done. So whatever the job, I get the most satisfaction once I finish either the whole job or parts of it successfully. I especially love a challenge and getting difficult things done will give me the most satisfaction.

What do your friends and family think about your job?

My friends and family are very supportive in what ever I do. Obvisouly they are proud that I am now doing my PhD as the first one in my family. They also think it is great that I try to stay involved in science communication whilst doing my PhD.

Tell us more about your environment in terms of work/life balance

I tend to work during the week (about eight hours for the PhD and about one or two hours a day on other things, like the podcast). I try to keep weekends for relaxation, but I usually end up doing activities such as cycling or swimming or climbing. I love weekend trips and going out for drinks with my friends, so I try to do this on weekends and one evening a week at least. I feel I have a good work/life balance.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started out with a Bachelors of Virology and Immunology, which involved a lot of labwork and heavy science. Once I got the degree I decided being a lab scientist was not for me and did a Masters in Science Communication. That was probably the most fun I ever had whilst doing a degree. Once I had the Masters I decided to do a PhD in health communication and psychology, since I wanted to use the knowledge from my previous course to develop something that will help people understand their health problem. I am however still very interested in all kinds of science communication, which is why I am trying to keep several small projects going at the same time.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of following your path?

Science in general is a great field to get involved in. It is exciting, cutting edge and always has a surprise in store! And it can be incredibly rewarding. My path is not typical, since I started out doing hard science, then deflected a bit from this by doing science communication, but I have now kind of returned to science in a way. What everyone should know is that if you feel passionate about some type of science, you should follow that path. And if you realize it is not quite for you (like I did with the hardcore virology and immunology after my Bachelors) then there are plenty of related fields to get into. Try it out, get your first degree and if it’s not quite what you expected, have a look around. There is a wealth of
opportunities.

How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for someone in your field, and how much can this be expected to rise?

I am on the salary of a PhD outside London, so it’s about £14,000 a year (but remember: this is not taxed, so you actually get the full amount!). I am not sure whether this will rise dramatically, with funding being scarce due to the recession, but I know that if I was to try and find a job rather than doing a PhD, my salary would be higher.

What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax?

I have a range of things I love to do. I go indoor climbing once a week, cycle whenever and wherever I can (this year I ll be going from London to Paris on my bike) and go walking (for example in the Lake District). All these activities I do with friends of course! Other than that, I spend every other weekend going out in London, seeing my boyfriend and old friends from university.

Have there been any embarrassing moments?

In my life? Plenty! But I think I covered them all up well. I’m not about to reveal them to you now!