I began my three-month internship with The Naked Scientists in July 2017. As a BBSRC EastBIO student, I took some time out of my PhD at the University of Edinburgh to learn more science communication and radio show production.
When I began working for The Naked Scientists, my main goals were to improve my interview technique and also learn how to edit audio pieces for broadcast.
From the moment I walked into the office, I was treated as a valuable member of the team. Within the first week, I had sourced news stories for the show, interviewed a leading researcher, edited this interview and published an article on the website. I loved being able to get started so quickly and found that being thrown in at the deep end is really the best way to learn these specific skills.
The overall goal of my internship was to produce my own hour-long show on a topic of my choice. I pitched a couple of ideas to the group and decided to go with a show looking at DNA and what it can tell us about the past, present and future.
I got to work thinking about how I could create a show that I would listen to myself. In the end, the show included David Bentley from Illumina, who spoke about the 100,000 genomes project, and Eske Willerslev was interviewed about his record-breaking ancient DNA extraction processes that are seeing million-year old genomes reassembled. We even managed to DNA sequence a locally-bought sausage to show people how the technology works!
Here is a link to the show!
As weird as it sounds, I had no idea how significant DNA sequencing a sausage would be to this internship and my overall learning experience. It challenged my negotiation skills (I had to convince someone to do this for free!), my interview skills (I recorded the entire experiment in the lab over multiple days) and my editing skills (there was A LOT of audio). I also had to create a piece that anyone could understand regardless of their scientific knowledge level, which required some creativity.
The Friday before my show, I was invited to do a live interview about it on the local BBC Breakfast show. This was such an exciting experience as the show was my passion project and I was thrilled that I could spread the DNA word to another audience.
The Naked Scientists are a group of not only excellent communicators but skeptical scientists, which is why they are so trusted by their audience in a world of fake news and Daily Mail scare stories. I would strongly recommend working/interning for this team if you have the opportunity.