Science Outreach

The Lonely Pipette - a podcast where scientists share tips to help you do better science

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What shapes scientists can be a very personal experience built on a string of individual events within their careers. It is dependent on mentors they’ve had or the way their institute is run or even the country they work in. There’s no strict blueprint to personal growth in the academic world and this makes pursuing a scientific career all the more daunting. From wondering when to decide to apply for a postdoc position and how to pick your topic to maneuver the daily challenges that come along with a career in science, Renaud Pourpre and Jonathan Weitzman (two biology researchers based in Paris, France) were inspired to create a platform for these kinds of questions that scientists will face throughout their different career stages. Launched on 16 September 2020, The Lonely Pipette is a podcast aiming at helping scientists do better science. In their podcasts, Pourpre and Weitzman interview renowned scientists to answer all kinds of questions that young scientists are asking themselves: How to decide my research topic? Who should I ask for advice? How to get funded? Am I doing a good job? Am I a good mentor? When should I apply for my next job? How do I get good publications?

The guests come from different scientific backgrounds and countries, using this platform to share their tips to success in science. They also cover their failures and delve into why some things just did not work. Pourpre and Weitzman wish to inspire scientists by sharing how people do science in different contexts. Mastering the scientific field can be tricky and the podcast can be a source of encouragement and comfort or provide solutions to problems that scientists commonly face. This podcast covers questions asked at any career stage and is not just relevant for young researchers. Listening to a diverse set of experiences can be very helpful in making decisions in your own career.

A segment in the podcast sees guests sharing the personal reasons that inspired them to become a scientist, their life-style and their routine. It’s very interesting to get to know well-known scientists on a personal level and how they face or have faced similar challenges to you or in our own scientific career. They share their family’s life, how they organize their work, how they manage stress, and how they balance personal and professional life.

The profile of the guests, just like the topics covered, covers a wide spectrum. Notable appearances include Oded Rechavi, a famous professor in Tel-Aviv University who is also a Twitter star with the hashtag #physiologicallyrelevant; Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla, who studied biology in Mexico and after successfully working in Paris and London is now directing an institute in Germany; Harmit Malik, a professor and associate director of Fred Hutch Medical Center, who talked about his Indian origin and his style of mentorship; Magdalena Skipper, an editor of the renowned journal Nature, shared her personal thoughts about editing, publishing and communicating science.

This podcast is not made to talk about science, but about the scientists behind it. In a field that focuses on data and discoveries, it's refreshing to have a platform where the human aspect of being a scientist is shared. From gathering career advice to empathizing with the struggles (that may feel all too similar) of a scientist to learning how other people handle stress and failure, the podcast is worth a listen if you’re looking for some guidance on ANY aspect of your scientific career.

Written by Isabelle Arnoux; Edited by Gabrielle Sant. Image: NGC/Design.

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