Kelly Bullock – Pivoting From the Bench to a Creative or an Artistic Career

There is always one day when reality hits. Your well devised trip, that you’d been planning for months, or for years, falls short of your expectations, of what you had imagined. The disappointment you feel may bring you thoughts of packing up and heading back home… Or you can pick up your map and look for what other treasures your surroundings hold for you to discover. And you trace a new route and embark on a new and exciting voyage. In this episode, Kelly Bullock shares her experience switching from a PhD to a master’s program, and how she then made use of what she learned in grad school to forge a path for herself where her two loves – neuroscience and art – intersect.

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Originally from Texas, Kelly Bullock moved to Canada where she earned her MSc in cognitive neurophysiology from McGill University in conjunction with Western University. During her research, Kelly noticed a gap between the technical experts and the diverse audiences they served and developed a passion for more effective science visualization and communication.

From an early age, she had an enthusiasm for creating realistic illustrations. After her graduate studies, she combined her love for science and her enthusiasm for art to build a scientific illustration studio — Kelly Bullock Art — inspired to address the communication gap in science.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Dealing with the guilt/disillusionment when choosing to switch from PhD to MSc
  • How grad school may not be a good fit for you now, but it can become one at a later stage in your life
  • The importance of your community, be it your peers or your family and friends, as a support system to help you discuss and deal with choices and with difficulties that you may be facing
  • Why you have the skills to become a specialist in anything that may interest you
  • Why employers will want you in their organization, after grad school
  • How grad school culture often leads to students devaluating their worth when going onto the job market
  • The role professional associations can play in helping you access your new career

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“Sometimes, you’ll be surprised when you reach out to people in your network who have moved on to non-academic careers. Sometimes, they’re willing to put you in contact with someone who’s willing to hire you or have an interview with you, so that can really even open up doors beyond just the research part of it.”

“Do your research, find a vocation that is profitable, fulfilling, but also can provide value to your audience and make you feel like you’re making a valuable contribution. And that’s not always the easiest thing to do, but if you do that research and you have a decent idea that something is actually going to earn you money and be fulfilling, that’s 90% of the battle.”

“Invest in yourself, understand that the skills that you learned during graduate school will be valuable, they will come into play in your next move and be willing to go to school again or take some classes, and make the move towards something that you will find more fulfilling.”

Kelly’s links: Kelly Bullock Art: kellybullockart.com | Instagram: @kelly.bullock.art

You might also like the following episodes:

David (Viva Frei) Freiheit – Youtube content creator: PapaPhD.com/15

Tamarah Luk – Entertainment Law: PapaPhD.com/10

Kirsten Sanford – Science communication: PapaPhD.com/13

Inês Thomas Almeida – Musicology: PapaPhD.com/27

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