From immunologist to international science communicator

Our Roving Reporter Clare Watson chats to Lia Paola Zambetti, Assistant Head, Office of Scientific Communication and Archives, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore, about her career journey which started out as a lab-based scientist.

Clare: Lia, you have had an exciting career journey, from lab-based research to science communication work in Singapore. What is your current role and what does a normal day look like for you in this role?

Lia: My current role is being an Assistant Head in the Office of Science Communication and Archives in A*STAR. In my normal day I tend to care for a number of projects in science communication. It can be things like organising a scientific conference, or being an editor, or organising outreach [events] or talking to scientists that are being asked to participate in our outreach program, helping them and giving them feedback on their presentation.

It’s a job that I really like because it’s very varied. When I used to work in the lab, it used to be experiments all day – day in, day out. Here, it’s more of an office type of work but I still talk to scientists every single day. I actually see a lot more science now and, paradoxically, of a lot more varied type than what I used to see when I was in the lab. I find that for me it’s a much better fit.

This path suits someone who has an interest in science but is not interested in diving so deep into a topic that you can no longer see what is outside of it – that used to be one of my issues when I was doing research. If you don’t find your niche then that’s it, you won’t make it. If you have that kind of [broad] mindset you also won’t be a very successful researcher – at least, that’s my impression of the scientific landscape in 2016, regardless of where you are in the world!

Clare: What do you enjoy most about your role in science communication?

Lia: The fact that there are no two days that are the same. I don’t have to do the same type of work every day. It depends on what the particular activity of that day is. If it’s organising conferences for example, I need to get in touch with the speakers. If it’s editing, then I need to check articles. There’s no longer a typical day for me. More...