Maryse Thomas – Part 1 – Enriching Your Graduate School Experience

In this episode, we’re going to talk with Maryse Thomas, Director of the Useful Science website and podcast, about science communication and popularization, and about how it can enrich your graduate school experience and your career as a young researcher. We’re also going to hear about her PhD and about her recent experience going abroad for her postdoc and about her insights on how to make the best of this first dive into the academic career.

Academia, science communication, popularization

Maryse Thomas is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Massachussets Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Originally from Montreal, she received her PhD at McGill University in the field of auditory neuroscience. Maryse is interested in digital media and science communication and has been the Director of the website UsefulScience.org since 2018. Useful Science publishes short summaries of scientific research relevant to everyday life and also produces a podcast that dives into the science behind those studies.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The challenge of balancing starting a postdoc before defending your PhD
  • The importance of social activities and of staying in contact with your friends and family when adapting to a new city/country
  • Why you should look for alumni groups from your alma mater around you
  • Science communication as a platform for graduate researchers to share their knowledge
  • How side-projects or student communities you’re part of in graduate school enrich your experience and can have ripple effects in your professional life
  • How to articulate a having side-project with reaching your research goals

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“I also made a point of getting in touch with people I knew in Boston. There’s a big Montreal and McGill community in Boston – there’s just this network of researchers who end up going there, often times for postdocs or PhDs. So I had some friends that I either didn’t know very well or hadn’t spoken to in a few years that I made a point of getting in touch with and so, having those familiar faces around me in Boston also helped, I guess, with that whole experience.”

“I think there has been a growth in this science communication world that has really managed to reach out and has struck a cord with a lot of graduate students who feel like they want to be doing a bit more with the skills that they’ve learned in grad school, or who might even be looking for other career opportunities, or to change their career paths.”

“If you want to start having Zoom chats with your family it’s so easy, now. And now we realize that. In the last two months I’ve spoken to people who I probably wouldn’t have spoken with on a regular basis just because everybody almost feels closer in that way. And so, with my family and with my partner I was definitely speaking more often on the phone and keeping in touch that way.” 

Maryse’s links: Linkedin.com/in/maryse-thomas-8a2b9752; UsefulScience.org. To submit an article to Useful Science, go to: www.usefulscience.org/submit; Scicomm Board.

You might also like the following episodes:

Dana Murchison – Science Outreach: PapaPhD.com/1

Clarissa Wright – Publishing: PapaPhD.com/34

Falisha Karpati – Skills Development: PapaPhD.com/30

Kirsten Sanford – Science communication: PapaPhD.com/13

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