Jessica Breen - Yorkshire and the Humber Group
10 Jul 2015
Jessica joined SCI in 2012. She became Communications Officer of the Yorkshire and Humber Committee in 2012. Jessica was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Leeds within the Institute of Process Research and Development (iPRD) and is now in medical communications. She gained her MChem degree and PhD in chemistry at Durham University.
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When and why did you become a member of SCI?
I became involved in the SCI as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Leeds after hearing about the organisation through discussions with scientists in the iPRD. I was keen to become involved and meet like-minded scientists and learn more about chemistry in industry.
Why did you decide to get involved in an SCI Committee?
I decided to become involved in the committee as I felt the group needed to attract younger scientists. I also wanted to improve the online reach of the Yorkshire and Humber Group by using social media, as the way people are communicating and learning has evolved greatly in recent years.
How do your SCI activities reflect your personal/professional interests?
I have been and continue to be very interested in the way science is communicated. This is reflected in the fact that I kept a blog during my postdoctoral fellowship and have a strong presence on Twitter. Being communications officer for the Yorkshire and Humber Group allowed me to develop these communications skills and inspire me to follow a career in this area.
What has driven your continued involvement?
My fellow members of the committee are why I remain dedicated to the Group. They are all highly experienced scientists and are all keen to pass on their knowledge to fellow committee members like myself.
How has being involved in SCI activities impacted on your career?
Being involved in SCI has allowed me to attend a number of career events, which has allowed me to learn about many careers away from academia. I have also had the opportunity to network with a great number of interesting and influential scientists, many of whom I am still in touch with today.
How do you think that your contribution has helped to shape your Group or SCI as a whole?
I feel my contribution has been to demonstrate to the group what a less experienced scientist is looking for from SCI and how we can reach other younger, inexperienced scientists and help their careers going forward.
By being involved on a committee, what opportunities have been presented to you which you would not have otherwise had?
For me, the biggest thing is the opportunity to network with a great number of people, from undergraduate students to Members of Parliament!
How do you balance your SCI commitments with your job and workload?
I have had little problem balancing the two. The key is to be organised and plan ahead.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt by being an SCI committee member?
I have learnt that everyone can have different points of view but that all are valid and a compromise can always be reached.
What advice would you offer to anyone thinking about becoming involved in an SCI Group or Standing Committee?
I would definitely recommend that PhD students and postdocs join a committee. If there are things you would like to change, then joining a committee is the best way to bring about that change. Other committee members are always looking for new ideas and new ways of bringing in members, and are very welcoming to the less experienced scientist.