Victoria ASC President; Lynette Plenderleith Scope interview
- Why did you choose to study science?
I grew up in the bush. Although we didn’t call it the bush, because it was England. But nonetheless I grew up around wildlife and weather and mud and I loved it. Most of my family were biologists of one kind or another, so perhaps I had a genetic disposition to study science. Either way, I was hungry to know more about the ecosystems that I treasured.
- Looking back now, what has been the best part of your career in SciComms?
You can’t beat that new job smell! There are many, somewhat concealed advantages of short term and casual contracts, including the prospects presented by moving around. I’ve been lucky enough to step forward with every career move and with every new position comes new opportunities to learn and grow, different people to meet and more career goals met.
- Where has your career led you?
Physically? The rain forests of Honduras, inner city Baltimore, a New Zealand swamp and lots of places in between. More significantly and less scientifically, it has led me closer to fulfilling my career goals. I have met so many people from so many walks of life and it has increased my understanding not just of the ecosystems I set out to study, but of people, politics, community and conservation.
- What excites you most about your work?
Being able to give people a better understanding of the world around them and with that, a greater opportunity to appreciate it. My work specifically aims to enlighten people through entertainment, which is one of the more effective and enjoyable methods of education for all involved.
- What advice do you have for anyone considering a career in SciComms?
Work out what you want to do within science communication – it’s a broad field and narrowing it down will help. You can do that whilst exploring jobs and courses though of course – don’t be afraid to give things a try.
- What are some of your greatest challenges that you’ve overcome in your Sci-Com career?
My work sits in the sweet spot between science and the lay public, but it can be afflicted by both edges of the same sword – I can be both undermined for not being a scientist or dismissed for being too “academic”. It can be brutal sometimes, especially during conversations with hard-core conspiracy theorists and the like, but challenges like that are all part of building your craft and finding your voice. Every conversation with a climate change denier or anti-vaxxer helps you formulate arguments, articulate your thoughts, find holes in your own arguments and gaps in your knowledge. It’s ok to not know everything and it’s ok for people to disagree with you, even if you have evidence on your side. That’s the beauty of being in science communication.
Thank you for sharing with us Lynette!
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