Bsc Zoology to Freelance Science Communicator and Public Engagement Consultant
Name :Sam Langford (He/Him)
Job Title : Freelance Science Communicator & Public Engagement Consultant
A levels/ equivalent :Highers in English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Computing and Geography
Zoology BSc at the University of Glasgow
Favourite science fact
I’m currently sat in Glasgow, and that means I am closer to outer space than I am to the city of Dundee.
Journey in 3 Words
Convoluted, accidental, perfect
Briefly describe your role
I am a performing science monkey, meaning that I spend most of my time in front of a camera. Whether it’s leading training sessions, running events or presenting a show, I talk for a living.
I also help university teams with their public engagement, on a consultant basis and work on the production of science events like conferences and festivals.
What motivated you to pursue a career in science
I’ve always been interested in the natural world, from a very young age. It’s cliche, but my grandparents were the key to it all, nurturing my love of animals and encouraging me to learn all of the time. From the age of about 5 or 6, I knew I wanted to be a zoologist, and that’s exactly what I did.
What does science communication mean to you?
For me, scicomm is essential. We live in a world where misinformation reigns supreme and that has never been more apparent in our handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.
High quality, impactful science communication could and should be used to make the world a better place. And being part of that potential, is very exciting!
Not everyone gets to experience scicomm abroad. How was your experience in the Caribbean? And what advice do you have for making the most of internship time?
I spent three months in Trinidad & Tobago on a research project during my undergraduate years, and it was a hugely inspiring experience. Working alongside researchers at the University of the West Indies on projects focussed on wildlife in tropical rainforests was so much fun, and it opened my eyes to the world that is out there.
The Caribbean is a beautiful place, with the kindest people I have ever met. It was also where I became exposed to science communication for the first time, whilst watching local scientists speaking to school children about bats in a cave.
How do you feel the Science world has evolved throughout your career? ( what are some hard truths you have had to face?)
I think the scientific community is beginning to have the hard conversations about the toxic culture that exists within its ranks. This is a welcome discussion that is opening up, but there’s still a lot of work to do in order to make science open to everyone.
How have your past experiences contributed to the amazing science communicator you are today?
I’ve been doing science communication for almost ten years now, so I’ve had a huge amount of experiences to draw from, reflect on and incorporate into my practice. I spent six years working in a science centre, which is by far the most formative experience in developing my skills as a science communicator.
You run @globalscience show, What was the inspiration behind these and what are your long term plans for it ?
Honestly? Boredom. I had been furloughed during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and was looking for things to fill my time with. Taking inspiration from other initiatives such as #MuseumFromHome I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to run a full day of STEM content on Twitter, to put a smile on people’s faces.
It kinda blew up, and now it’s become part of my freelance day to day. I’m currently thinking hard about the long term plan, but for now we’ve launched a training programme, SciComm: Beyond the Basics that will give people the tools they need to make high quality scicomm outputs.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be kinder to yourself and give yourself a break once in a while
Do you ever see yourself transitioning back into academia?
Never, I am perfectly happy in the world I’ve moulded for myself
Would you have originally picked this career path if more information was available to you at the time?
I never knew this was an option for me, and I ended up here by accident so I honestly don’t know if younger Sam would have made this choice.
What advice would you give to people regarding salaries in your field?
They are extremely varied, and jobs themselves are extremely competitive. Subscribe to the psi-comm mailing list, which only advertises jobs which include a salary range, so you can get an idea of what the market is like.
Outside science how would you describe yourself?
Quite introverted. I spend a lot of time on my phone, playing video games or spending time with my partner and our two dogs.
Interested in more sci comm ? - connect with Sam
Youtube : GoingLivewithGlobalScienceShow