Exactly three years ago I defended my PhD in Goettingen, Germany. Today is my birthday as Doctor. Around then I had then an offer to work at best place in the world in my field, which I accepted. I also had an invitation to interview with McKinsey and was drafted for the astronaut election process. It was a great moment.
Today I am unemployed.
I am where I am because I chose so. Pursuing your goals is not easy, but no one told me it would be. Achieving what I have, from where I started was not easy. By all means. What I am doing now is a hard step I knew I had to do. A difficult decision two years in the making. I studied science because I love science. And Technology. But most of all, how these help people be better. I studied science all the way up to earn a PhD and then also worked at a satellite and rocket facility. But something was missing. Something so important it drove me off the official path: People. As amazing, challenging and interesting as my research was, it lacked connection with the real world, with people.
I worked then as a science advisor, and I truly loved it. It made me realize that that was my goal. Unfortunately my fellowship, the only one that allows non-US citizens, ended.
Science outreach is one way to bridge this gap between S&T and people. I tried that for years parallel to my day job. I made quite some science outreach (chairing an international IYA2009 Task Group for example), but I could not dedicate as much time as I wanted or it needed. During my last years as researcher I was not supported or even encouraged by my employers. A mistake. They lost me.
Science is amazing. Science fills everything. It is everywhere. It helps us understand us, and the Universe. It unites people. It makes people better. Science is advancing fast, faster than ever. But the public understanding of science is not. 500 years after understanding gravitation we still believe in astrology. Many don´t seem to care if mobiles work by magic or by waves. The truth is that Science and Technology make our present. Wich direction you want the future to go?
There are many ways Science and Technology can reach society. Outreach is one of them. Others are e.g., engaging society through ICT projects or crowdsourcing tools, capacity building in developing countries, education, mentoring programs, citizen scientist, competitions, social media interaction, advising government and companies, advocacy from NGOs ... My head is full of ideas, my motivation is very high, as so is my commitment. I just need to get ball rolling.
It was hard to give up my professional status/inertia. A good stable job with a high pay and benefits. Prospects for an easy life in research. Instead I am sleeping on the floor at a friend´s place, seeking where in the whole world I can best leverage my skills for the best outcome. I pursue my dreams.
I love Science and Technology. I have a PhD in physics. I am a technology geek. I have full commitment to help society.