A career in science can be both fun and rewarding. That is what a panel brought together by The University City Science Center set out to prove Wednesday evening at their "I Love My Science Job" event of the 2014 Philadelphia Science Festival.
Moderated by Zack Seward, a science and technology reporter with WHYY, the panel of four shared their paths to their respective science careers and how they spread their love of the subject.
Careers in science take shape in all sorts of ways, leading down varied and extremely diverse paths. Panelist Dan Ueda began as a product designer, then moved to teaching engineering and robotics at Central High School, and is now working with the University of Pennsylvania to establish a citywide robotics curriculum. Danielle Stollack's career journey was an international affair. Before becoming Program Manager for the University City Science Center's STEAM initiatives, she made her way to various archaeological dig sites in South Africa, Iceland and back again.
Dr. Cindy Otto's personal history emphasized an underlying desire to discover "why things work" and "how things work". The ultimate resolution of this deeply seated curiosity is often what draws many into their respective science fields and fuels their drive to continue seeking answers to their questions.
Dr. Otto's current research as an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center involves detection of cancer and blood sugar levels in humans.
Getting the word out
Whether they realize it or not, people deal with science every day. The key is getting them to realize they enjoy it. Ms. Stollak shared several anecdotes about teaching science in unconventional ways, from educating a South African poacher about the sustainability she was already practicing to "tricking" an Icelandic community into caring about the environment after a local museum curator had alienated the townsfolk after a political faux pas.
Part of Jill Sybesma's job as Adult Programs Manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences involves bringing science to the masses in fun and engaging ways. The Academy hosts a regular event entitled "Mega Bad Movie Night", a play on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 where scientists sit on stage and riff on scientific inaccuracies in films like "Sharknado". She also hosts "Science on Tap" at a local bar, in an effort to bring science discussion to another informal yet engaging venue.
The key takeaway from the panel was that science doesn't have to be intimidating, and can offer fun, exciting, creative, and fulfilling careers and lives.