Alex Rafaniello

“So what do you do exactly? Can you prescribe me painkillers? Are you Walter White in Breaking Bad?!”

When I began my Masters research in organic chemistry, it became immediately apparent to me how little the people in my life knew about my field. This is a very universal experience for research scientists, and I initially saw this as an indictment of scientific literacy in Australia.

Science Communication proved to me that understanding science is a two-way street. It requires scientists to adapt how they report on findings, based on their audience. SciComm equipped me with the skills and language to explain my research more effectively to my supervisor, my colleagues, or even my graphic designer friend’s dad.

Communication for Research Scientists (SCIE90013) also provided ample opportunities to present in front of audiences, in a safe and non-judgemental environment. Speaking off the cuff is a vital skill for any scientist, and this preparation helped me immensely for my Masters progress and completion seminars.

I spent the last year of my Masters applying, writing and interviewing for PhD scholarships at various universities around the world. The writing skills I obtained from SciComm were invaluable during this period of endless personal essays and research proposals.

I will be starting my PhD at the University of Cambridge in October 2020. My research will be focused on developing new methods and catalysts for common chemical reactions. These new methods will be another tool in the chemist’s toolbox, and could be applied in drug development, small molecule synthesis, biological research or material science.