Internship with the British Society of Plant Pathology

Odette Wills has completed a PIPS placement at the British Society of Plant Pathology. Below is an account of her placement.

I worked as part of the BSPP outreach team with Katie Tomlinson (BSPP Outreach Officer). Most days I was based on the computer completing a variety of tasks. These included; writing plant pathogen fact sheets, helping develop a new activity called ‘Save Our Plants’, constructing news articles and event reports. At events, such as the Big Bang Science Fair and the Molecular Biology of Plant Pathogens conference, I assisted Katie in running the BSPP outreach stall.

I feel that I was given a huge range of opportunities and experiences during my three months at BSPP outreach. It was great getting to work on so many science outreach activities, expanding both my plant pathology knowledge and improving my communication skills.

I have learnt how to communicate scientific research at a range of levels, from young children to adults, in both a spoken and written format. I have been able to identify which areas of the scientific information would engage these different individuals; this has helped me reflect on how I can present my own research to the public.

This internship has offered me an invaluable career experience. Helping to develop activities for and run the BSPP stall at the Big Bang Science Fair was fantastic. I really enjoyed getting to see the benefit of our hard work through the engagement of individuals – from all age groups – in plant pathology. I have been on fascinating trips, such as going to the FERA labs and offices; it was very eye opening to see the workings of a real diagnostic centre. I have also got to meet many people, including members of the BSPP board and people from FERA and the BBSRC outreach department. It has been inspiring to see people working on science outreach from many different angles. I have developed new skills such as tweeting and other elements of media mass communication, including writing news articles.

I would definitely recommend this internship to other students who would like to be more involved with science outreach. Working in such a small team has meant that I have been able to experience multiple aspects of science communication, from creating resources to running events. I feel that I have gained a true insight into the science outreach area and acquired many skills along the way.