The Once a Scientist podcast was launched in April 2020 by Nick Edwards, a neuroscience PhD who works at a San Diego-based biotech company. His goals for the show are simple:
Provide a resource for young scientists to learn about different careers.
Over the course of his career as a researcher, strategist, and now podcaster, he has met so many scientists who are doing incredible things — from brilliant researchers to scientists no longer working in the lab. Although science careers away from the bench are often referred to as “alternative careers,” many current researchers will find themselves on one of these “alternative” paths at some point in the future. This is partly because there are simply not enough academic jobs to go around. More importantly though, there is a genuine need for scientists in many different fields. A need for people who were trained to think critically about big problems and work empirically towards a solution. A need for people who can understand arcane or deeply technical concepts and distill them to their most essential components. And once you are trained as a scientist, you don’t just forget that training because you aren’t wearing a lab coat anymore. A prevailing theme on Once a Scientist is that scientists have a lot to offer in a wide variety of professional arenas — both within academia and well beyond.
Speak with scientists from a broad spectrum of backgrounds.
Diversity and inclusivity are critical to a thriving scientific community. Whether you’re trying to build a scientific career at the bench or elsewhere, it can be especially challenging if you don’t see yourself represented among the group of professionals you’re trying to join. A lack of readily identifiable mentors can leave aspiring scientists struggling to find their place in society. Once a Scientist invites scientists with all kinds of backgrounds to share their unique experiences so that every listener can find a story that resonates with them.
Make science cool again.
Let’s face it: science doesn’t have the coolest reputation among non-scientists. To many it seems exceedingly complex and simply put, boring — essentially a lot of formulas, facts, and figures. It can be a huge barrier to entry for people who have never met a scientist, and also could not be further from the truth! You can hear it in the voices of the guests on this show. These are passionate people who have found a way to turn the things that they find most exciting into successful careers. So Once a Scientist won’t be a bunch of formal talks intended to teach you science — it’s a series of informal conversations where scientists can relax and really gush about why they love their jobs so much, and why it’s worth all the hard work to attain them.
Have honest conversations.
The final goal of the show is a fairly straightforward one: keep it real. Becoming a scientist is not easy. It’s a highly competitive field, and while many institutions are working to improve resources for students to build their dream careers, often those support systems are still very much under construction. Many of the guests on Once a Scientist encountered challenges and hardships on the road to their current jobs, some of which will likely be experienced by future scientists as well. They are invited to share the wisdom they’ve gleaned from their unique journeys so that we can all learn from each other and ultimately help each other succeed.
Show notes by Caroline Sferrazza.