Niamh Shaw | Smart Futures

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Niamh Shaw
Niamh Shaw is a prolific science communicator whose goal is to make science accessible to everyone. Her theathre shows, TV and podcast appearances allows her to enjoy her job while also having creative freedom.
Job title
Science Communicator
Science Communications
Degree in Engineering and PhD in Food Science

What would be a typical day for you?

I spend a lot of time reading science/technology journals and checking out websites, TV programmes and podcasts to keep up to date on latest research and trends. I then try to find one big topic from all this information and pitch maybe two or three of these topic ideas to the radio producer.

Sometimes you might get a call to have something completely new prepared to go on air the next day, so there is very little research time and it could be a late night getting everything together for such a quick turnaround.

I also try to keep my performance career going which could involve some contract work in voice over for eLearning websites, role-play work for company training or live entertainment performance. Again, this can sometimes be very last minute and you have to get on top of scripts in a very short time.


What’s the best part about your job?

I get to work in many varied work environments and meet some very interesting people. I laugh a lot and am very much in control of what I do everyday.


Are there some challenging aspects?

Your time very often doesn’t feel your own. You set your own schedule but since it is not a 9-5 career, it’s very common to keep working late into the night to meet deadlines etc. I use a to-do list a lot because it’s often difficult to keep on top of the different duties I need to fulfil within the day.


What has been the most useful part of your education? 

Logical thinking and problem solving, which I learned from engineering, have been an invaluable skill in every aspect of my career. I bring this approach to any situation requiring troubleshooting.

My skills in academic writing during my PhD and post-doc have also been a valuable skill in my career as science communicator.


Who influenced you as you were growing up?

My science teacher in secondary school, Mrs Greer ignited my passion for science and showed me that I was a naturally curious person and a good scientist. She supervised my Young Scientist project, which also made me very proud that I enjoyed science.

My parents helped me a lot in making my big decision to leave full-time academic research.